Every year after the NBA Draft, everyone’s looking at who their teams picked that could be that next diamond in the rough. Once the NBA season gets going and these rookies show what they can bring to the NBA, fans start to see what their team saw in that rookie. Leading into this draft, it was said that Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram were the only two sure things in the draft and even ESPN’s college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said that the draft truly starts at pick #3. Even when draft experts say that there isn't much in the draft, they are often wrong.
There are always players selected in the mid to late first round into the second round that play with a chip on their shoulder for not going higher and they play their way into being called the 'steal of the draft.' It’s tough going through all 58 picks after the #1 and #2 picks and picking out who could go on to have better careers than Ben Simmons (pick #1) and Brandon Ingram (pick #2), but here are the fifteen to look out for. There are some names on this list that many people would not expect, but looking at their college careers will make people figure out the reason that their team took a shot on them.
15 15. Marcus Paige (#55 Pick by Brooklyn; Traded to Utah)
College Stats: 13.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.3 APG
Jalen Rose said it best after NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum announced that Marcus Paige had been drafted by the Nets. “I’m glad he got drafted. He’s an NBA point guard,” Rose said. He hit it right on the head. Marcus Paige is an NBA type point guard. He played at North Carolina in an NBA style system alongside the likes of Harrison Barnes, J.P. Tokoto, and Brice Johnson (also on this list), all of which have been drafted in the last four years. He hit a miraculous shot with 4.7 seconds left in the national championship against Villanova, which would have been the shot of the game had it not been for Kris Jenkins’ buzzer beater to win the national title.
14 14. Kay Felder (#54 Pick by Atlanta; Traded to Cleveland)
College Stats: 17.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 7.8 APG
The Cavaliers won the NBA championship on Sunday and might’ve got the steal of the draft last Thursday. Watching Kay Felder play in college is like the spinning image of the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas. He can slash to the basket, score from anywhere on the court, get his teammates involved, and make defenders look silly with his crossover. Knowing he can play in this league, expect Felder to play with a similar type of chip on his shoulder that Thomas came into the league with.
13 13. Ben Bentil (#51 Pick by Boston)
College Stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 0.9 APG
12 12. A.J. Hammons (#46 Pick by Dallas)
College Stats: 12.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 0.8 APG
There is always that one big man that college basketball gurus, like Dick Vitale, say are NBA ready players, but they never seem to turn out that way. Hammons is that guy in this draft, but hopefully he can avoid that. Before last season, Hammons was seen as a no brainer 1st round pick, but after questions about his character, he slid to the mid-2nd round. Watching film on him, he definitely has an NBA big man body at 7’0” and 278 pounds and played for Purdue in the physical Big Ten against the likes of Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State.
11 11. Patrick McCaw (#38 Pick by Minnesota, Traded to Golden State)
College Stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.3 APG
You can count another three point shooter going to the Warriors. McCaw shot 36.7% from three during his career at UNLV. Warriors Coach Steve Kerr likes long, athletic guards who can defend, run the offense, and shoot. McCaw fits that mold perfectly. He’s 6’6” and is a poor man’s Shaun Livingston who can shoot the three. Coach Kerr, being a former NBA guard himself, knows a thing or two about what it takes to play the guard position in the NBA, so McCaw should be glad to be playing for him.
10 10. Malcolm Brogdon (#36 Pick by Milwaukee)
College Stats: 13.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.5 APG
Malcolm Brogdon is on this list because I love his game. He played for Tony Bennett at Virginia, who is known for his tough defensive schemes and getting his guys to buy in on the defensive side of the ball. Brogdon was one of the leaders on the team the last two or three years along with Anthony Gill (undrafted) and London Perrantes. He brings his all every night and is one of the toughest competitor I’ve ever seen play at the college level. He is one of those players that if his team needed a play to be made, he would take it upon himself to make it.
9 9. Timothe Luwawu (#24 Pick by Philadelphia)
Career Stats (played overseas): 14.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.8 APG
I just love saying this kid’s name, don’t you? Luwawu. When the Sixers drafted him, I thought “What are they doing?” They need guards. But after doing research, I went from scratching my head to loving this kid’s game. He is 6’7” and can play the 2-guard position. He is a pest on the defensive side and has incredible skill on the offensive side.
8 8. Damian Jones (#30 Pick by Golden State)
College Stats: 13.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.7 APG
7 7. Dejounte Murray (#29 Pick by San Antonio)
College Stats: 16.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.4 APG
6 6. Brice Johnson (#25 Pick by LA Clippers)
College Stats: 11.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 0.9 APG
5 5. Wade Baldwin (#17 Pick by Memphis)
College Stats: 11.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 4.8 APG
4 4. Domantas Sabonis (#11 pick by Orlando; Traded to Oklahoma City)
College Stats: 13.5 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.3 APG
3 3. Buddy Hield (#6 Pick by New Orleans)
College Stats: 17.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.9 APG
2 2. Jaylen Brown (#3 Pick by Boston)
College Stats: 14.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.0 APG
1 1. Kris Dunn (#5 Pick by Minnesota)
College Stats: 12.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.8 APG
If there was a point guard that has everything new Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau looks for in a player, Kris Dunn is it. Thibodeau preaches defense and Dunn is an above average defender who is a pest in the passing lane. He is #1 on the list because there were so many rumors about teams trading up in the draft because they had their sights set on getting him. Even after he was drafted, there was rumors that the Bulls and Wolves were trying to get a deal done, Dunn for Bulls’ All-sSar swingman Jimmy Butler, but the Bulls decided to hang on to Butler. Dunn is going to Minnesota to join the young talented core of Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns, which is possibly the NBA’s most promising core. Ricky Rubio is still in Minnesota, but before he worries about Dunn taking the starting job, he needs to worry about getting healthy.
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