Sam Smith's 10 Sleepers in the 2020 NBA Draft
History has shown that great NBA players can come from all over the Draft. Here are Sam's sleepers.
Remind Me Later •
Sam Smith lists ten players in the NBA Draft who may not be selected in the top 5 but may otherwise have really good NBA careers.
Wednesday's NBA Draft could be one of those in which none of the best players come from the top five selections in the draft, although the Bulls for now at No. 4 are hoping that doesn't happen.
Considering the complicating factors of players so young who haven't played much competitively, the apparent lack of superstar potential and the virus limiting teams from conducting workouts, perhaps less is known about this draft than any in decades.
And even then some of the best players and All-Stars were not drafted in the top 10, like Donovan Mitchell, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Domantas Sabonis, Devin Booker and this year's Finals star Tyler Herro. And don't forget second rounders who became All-Stars, like Khris Middleton and Nikola Jokic.
Just about everyone in the NBA seems to agree the top three players selected in some order will be LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman with Deni Avdija and Obi Toppin most likely to fill out the first five.
But will they be the top players five years from now? History suggests it's unlikely, though most stars do come from the top five in the draft.
Here's a look at 10 players from this draft who could emerge or surprise, your possible dark horse sleepers.
Kira Lewis Jr., point guard Alabama.
He's probably the fastest rising player in this draft, generally considered in the bottom third of the draft last month and now widely seen as a top 15 pick and perhaps top 10. He's a slender, speedy and sporty point guard who can score and get to the basket with a developing shot. Though Ball is regarded as the best point guard, some executives say they prefer Lewis because of his all around skills, pick and roll play and speed that transcend Ball's. Ball along with Iowa State's Tyrese Haliburton and Killian Hayes from France were generally considered the best point guards with a decline afterward. But more poking and prodding has raised questions about Haliburton and Hayes. One executive said the scoring challenged Haliburton would be ideal for the triangle offense. If any team used it. Is he Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Tomas Satoransky? Hayes seems to be sliding of late with executives saying they don't hear talk about him as much.
Patrick Williams, 6-7 forward Florida State.
He's the second fastest rising player in the draft, often now considered in the Nos. 5 to 10 range after being generally considered only perhaps a lottery pick. He's a little cautious offensively, but physical and a top defender who can guard multiple positions. Though not quite with the arm length, some executives liken him to Kawhi Leonard. Not the MVP Leonard, but the mid first round pick the Pacers believed was not as good as George Hill. Leonard learned to shoot and become more aggressive offensively, which some scouts say is ahead for Williams.
Tyrese Maxey, 6-3 shooting guard Kentucky
His statistics don't jump out, but executives have come to learn that Kentucky players under John Calipari, like Booker and Anthony Davis, often don't produce the kind of statistics in college that they will in the pros because of the style of play and glut of All-Americans. Maxey is regarded as a mid first round selection. But he could be a big NBA scorer. And though his three-point shooting was under 30 percent in college, his free throws were above 80 percent to show he'll make shots.
Jaden McDaniels, 6-10 forward Washington
One of those too-raw-for-now prospects, young in a young draft and thin. But with modern NBA comforts in size and athletic ability, he's a long armed player light on his feet who can make shots and is versatile enough at his size to still play both forward spots and create shots. He's the switchable defender teams like even if he doesn't know how to defend yet.
Jahmius Ramsey, 6-4 shooting guard, Texas Tech
Generally regarded as a second round pick, he could be a steal late in the first round. He's athletic and a good shooter. The knock on him is being undersized for the position, but he's long armed. He's young, but already adept at scoring.
Payton Pritchard, 6-2 point guard, Oregon
Not worth using a first round pick, but the kind of player you like on your roster. Doesn't have all the athletic physical tools, but a good shooter with a top handle who would trash talk Michael Jordan. A tough, cocky competitor.
Aaron Nesmith, 6-6 shooting guard/forward, Vanderbilt
Not a big secret since no one who shoots more than 50 percent on threes in college can hide for long. The NBA game is even more about shooting now with undrafted Duncan Robinson in the Finals. He often gets lumped with Florida State's Devin Vassell in this draft for the wing shooters, though Nesmith is more of a creator and a natural shooter. And more selfish, which is good for shooters.
Precious Achiuwa, 6-9 forward, Memphis
A long, elite athletic talent who could move in quickly at forward for many NBA teams. He was forced into the center position early at Memphis when James Wiseman left and it seemed to rattle him, which worried some teams. But his explosive play could quick jump him into an NBA spot.
Tyrell Terry, 6-3 point guard, Stanford
Often dismissed because of his size as he's thin and light. No one is another Steph Curry, but he's like that with a big time shooting stroke and can make plays. And can really shoot, a big thing in the NBA.
Jalen Smith, 6-10 power forward, Maryland.
An active big man with a quick first step and excellent defense. More athletic than large who can do a bit of all the things the NBA needs, like protect the rim, finish on pick and roll and make a three.
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