NBA PM: 10 Potential Steals in 2013 Draft
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10 Potential Steals in 2013 NBA Draft
The 2013 NBA Draft doesn’t have much star power, but this year’s class is incredibly deep. Even though the draft isn’t as top heavy as it is in some years, there are a lot of very talented players who are expected to be available toward the end of the first round or in the second round.
Last week, our Yannis Koutroupis wrote about several players who he considers to be potential sleepers in this year’s draft class, specifically Ricky Ledo, Myck Kabongo, Jackie Carmichael, Colton Iverson, James Ennis and Grant Jerrett.
However, because this class is so deep, there are even more prospects who could outperform their draft position. Here are 10 players who could end up being steals from the 2013 NBA Draft:
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State – Most college basketball fans know about Wolters because he has been lighting it up at South Dakota State for the past three seasons. The 22-year-old guard shouldn’t have a problem translating his game to the NBA because he is the epitome of a gym rat. When he played with the Jackrabbits, he would spend the majority of his time working out and trying to improve his game. He’s doing the same thing at the IMG Basketball Academy in Bradenton, FL, where he’s training for the draft. The coaches at IMG rave about Wolters because he often does four to five workouts each day. The team that drafts Wolters will never have to complain about his work ethic because the guy has an unwavering competitive nature and he’s constantly trying to become a better player. Wolters will play point guard in the league and, at 6’5, he has great size for the position. He’s a great scorer, as he showed in college, and an underrated facilitator. It’s not hard to imagine a team falling in love with him after having him at their facility.
Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece – Executives have been speaking highly about Adetokunbo and there have been several reports that he already has a promise in the first round. Most people don’t know much about the 18-year-old forward because they haven’t seen much of him, especially compared to how much they have seen the NCAA stars in this year’s draft. However, Adetokunbo has a lot of potential and could end up being a very special player down the road. Adetokunbo’s family left Nigeria for Greece back in 1992, two years before Giannis was born. At 6’9, he has the height to match up with NBA small forwards and he has physical gifts that you can’t teach. His wingspan has been measured at 7’3 and he has enormous hands, which helps him with things like finishing the basket and playing the passing lanes. His freakish hands are similar to those of San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, who broke the record when measured at the NBA draft combine in 2011. Adetokunbo already has an impressive skill set and he’s versatile as well, with the ability to play multiple positions. With that said, he’s somewhat raw since he’s still a teenager, but he has a lot of upside. Years from now, we may look back and wonder why he wasn’t picked higher.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh, France – It takes just one look at Jaiteh to see why he belongs in the NBA. At 18 years old, he is 6’11 and 250 pounds with a 7’4 wingspan. That’s an incredible frame, especially for a teenager who may not even be done growing yet. Leading up to the Nike Hoops Summit, he had been listed at 6’9 so it was a pleasant surprise when he checked in at 6’11 and looked the part of an NBA center. He decided not to participate in adidas’ Eurocamp so that he could come to America and work out individually for NBA teams instead. Like Adetokunbo, Jaiteh is raw, but that’s expected for an 18-year-old. He’ll benefit from training with NBA coaches and having the league’s resources at his disposal. Jaiteh is an unknown to most fans because he hasn’t gotten much exposure, but they’ll learn who he is soon. He may sneak into the end of the first round because he’s a big man with a lot of potential. If he’s not picked in the first round, he’ll likely be snatched up early in the second round.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State – Canaan is a very talented player, as he has shown during his last four years at Murray State. Even though he’s a senior, he still has some potential since he’s only 21 years old. Canaan is just 6’0, which is why he’ll likely be picked in the second round, but he certainly seems like an NBA player and he has a lot of fans around the league. Many professional players who have played against Canaan praise his game and say that he’s definitely an NBA player, which lines up with his averages of 21.8 points, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals. He was very impressive at the combine in Chicago, performing well during the interview process and jumping out of the gym. His 40.5-inch vertical was the sixth-highest out of all the prospects and it was important for Canaan’s draft stock because it shows NBA teams that he has the athleticism to succeed and make up for his height. He is also a very good shooter, and he’ll have an even easier time scoring in the NBA since he won’t be the focal point for defenses. Not to mention, Canaan is a proven a winner, leading Murray State to a 31-2 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament during his senior season. Canaan will really benefit from playing alongside NBA-level players, since he has been playing with mid-major teammates for the last several years and still producing at a high level despite his mediocre supporting cast.
Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State – After a solid collegiate career at N.C. State, Brown is entering the league with plenty of game film that shows why he’s such an intriguing player. Brown’s biggest strength may be his size. He’s a 6’5 point guard, which will help him be an impact player in the NBA because he’ll be able to cause match-up problems at the next level. Unlike some tall players who are given the point guard label during the pre-draft process just to attract the attention of NBA teams, Brown has actually played point guard and emerged as a very good facilitator while at N.C. State. During his junior season, he averaged the second-most assists, ninth-best assist-to-turnover ratio and third-best pure point rating among DraftExpress’ top-100 prospects. He also improved as a defender this past season, averaging two steals per game and doing a better job locking down his opponent. Brown has the size and skills to have a long, productive career in the NBA and he could surprise people since he’s projected as a second-round pick.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State – Thomas may be the most well-known player on this list because he was an NCAA star while playing for the Buckeyes. During his junior season at Ohio State, the 21-year-old averaged 19.8 points and 5.9 rebounds while leading the team to the Elite Eight. In the NBA, Thomas likely won’t be a star, but he seems to have what it takes to become an impact player. He’s currently projected as a second-round pick, but he should be able to contribute offensively at the next level since teams will no longer be focusing their defensive game plan on shutting him down, as they were in college. He was an incredibly consistent offensive threat in college, and teams took notice. He has a very good jump shot and he can create space as well as catch-and-shoot. Thomas should be more efficient in the NBA than he was at Ohio State since he won’t have to be a shoot or handle the ball nearly as much. Thomas’ measurements at the combine were impressive (6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan), but he could’ve performed better in the athletic testing. Some team will likely draft Thomas off of his packed résumé because he has been on the NBA’s radar since high school, when he was a McDonald’s All-American out of Bishop Leuer in Indiana. At the very least, Thomas should be a decent bench scorer in the NBA, but his skill set and unique frame could allow him to exceed expectations.
Michael Snaer, Florida State – When the NBA released this year’s list of draft combine participants, one of the most surprising snubs was Snaer. Even though he didn’t get an invite to Chicago, he may still hear his name called on draft night. There has been a lot of interest in Snaer during the pre-draft process and he’s going to be working out for a lot teams in the next several weeks. He had an impressive four-year collegiate career with the Seminoles, but the system didn’t showcase his talents as well a more open system would have. Even still, NBA teams believe he’ll be a solid shooting guard at the next level because of his perimeter defense and ability to score in a variety of ways. Snaer became somewhat of a household name for hitting six final-possession-game-winning shots in the last two years at FSU, and his clutch performances could help separate him from some of the other two-guards available in the second round. Snaer could end up being a steal because he can do a little bit of everything on the court and seems like he’ll end up being a solid role player at the next level.
B.J. Young, Arkansas – Executives are intrigued by Young because he has the frame and athleticism of an NBA player. There is always going to be some level of interest in a point guard who is 6’3.5 with a 6’8.25 wingspan and 8’3 standing reach. The 20-year-old played two years at Arkansas and he averaged over 15 points in each season. There’s no question that he has some talent. However, the biggest questions surrounding Young are about his shooting ability and his maturity. He shot just 22.7 percent from three-point range as a sophomore and he didn’t shoot well at the combine. However, as a freshman, he shot 41.3 percent from three with almost four attempts per game (NBA executives are scratching their heads over this too, it’s not just you). Young is working hard to improve his jumper and it has been the focus of his pre-draft training. Young also has some growing up to do, but that’s common for someone who was a teenager until just a few days ago. NBA teams are somewhat concerned with his body language and attitude, but trainers who have worked with him recently say that he’s a great kid and the fact that he has been dating the same girl for several years lines up with that. Young has a confidence and swagger that can be misunderstood, which could be part of the problem. As he matures and grows up, the concerns that teams have had during this process should be eased. At the end of the day, he has all of the tools to be very successful. A physical specimen can mature into an adult, but an undersized player with short arms can’t mature into Young’s frame. Teams realize that, which should help Young on draft night and he could eventually end up being a second-round steal.
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame – Cooley spent the last four years with the Fighting Irish and the 22-year-old showed significant progress during his senior year, when he averaged 13.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. The 6’9, 244-pound forward followed up his respectable season with an impressive performance at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where he averaged 13 points, 14 rebounds (the highest of all participants) and 1.7 blocks. Cooley was named to the All-Tournament Team and received significant NBA interest after the event. Not only did Cooley play well at Portsmouth, he also measured in very well at 6’9 with a 7’1.5 wingspan. Cooley has already worked out for several teams, and during those workouts he has been shooting lights out, specifically from NBA three-point range. His draft stock has been on the rise since the end of the season due to these performances and he could be a solid reserve shooter and stretch four at the next level. The forward may end up being a late second-round selection. If not, look for him to end with a team during training camp and try to shoot his way onto the regular season roster.
Romero Osby, Oklahoma – Osby’s name isn’t appearing in most mock drafts, but he had a productive collegiate career, spending two years at Mississippi State and two years at Oklahoma. As a senior, he averaged 16 points and seven rebounds for the Sooners. While he has played inside for the past several years, the 6’8 23-year-old has made the transition over to the small forward position during the pre-draft process. He’s currently training at the IMG Basketball Academy, where he has improved his perimeter skills such as his ballhandling and long-range shooting. While most NBA decision-makers looked at Osby in college and saw an undersized four, he’s actually a perfectly sized three, and a pretty good one at that. He has always had a decent jump shot, dating back to high school, as evidenced by his 52.9 percent shooting from three in his senior season. However, shooting the ball wasn’t something he did much in college because it wasn’t asked of him. In recent workouts, he has been shooting the ball really well, which could help his draft stock. Over the next several weeks, he’s trying to prove to teams that he can play small forward at the next level, and he has been doing a solid job thus far. He has scheduled workouts with a number of teams and he performed well in the group workout in Brooklyn. Osby has also been playing very well at IMG and if he does the same in individual workouts, he may hear his name called at the end of the second round. If not, he’ll be playing in either Las Vegas or Orlando for Summer League and he’ll surely get the attention of a team or two with his transformed body and perimeter improvements.
For more coverage of the 2013 NBA Draft, keep checking out HOOPSWORLD’s draft section in the coming weeks. That’s where all of our mocks drafts, player profiles and prospect videos will be appearing between now and June 27.
We’ll also have comprehensive coverage from the Barclays Center on draft night with analysis of every first-round pick, a running diary that keeps you updated on the latest draft-related rumors and interviews with the newest members of the NBA. HOOPSWORLD will have all of the draft information that you could possibly ask for or need.
Budenholzer is Outstanding Hire for Hawks
First, there weren’t many rumors linking the 43-year-old Budenholzer to the job. Other candidates had been mentioned in association with the Hawks such as Nate McMillan, Stan Van Gundy, Brian Shaw, Ettore Messina and Quin Snyder. Budenholzer’s name surfaced late into the process, but it’s not like everyone saw this hire coming. In fact, there were even reports characterizing McMillan as the frontrunner for the job before Budenholzer was announced as the team’s new coach.
Second, Budenholzer is the lead assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs and they’re pretty busy right now. Usually, assistant coaches will wait until their current team’s season is over before discussing, interviewing or accepting a job from another team. It’s even rarer to see an assistant coach accept a job as head coach just days before his team plays in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Most people figured that if a team was interested in making a run at Budenholzer, they’d have to wait until the Finals had concluded. But because the Spurs wrapped up the Western Conference Finals against the Memphis Grizzlies in four games and are currently waiting on their Eastern Conference opponent, Budenholzer was able to accept the job and be introduced by the Hawks on Tuesday. Now, he will rejoin the Spurs to direct his full attention back on San Antonio’s season and try to win his fifth NBA title.
Finally, Budenholzer has received interest from other teams that wanted to make him a head coach in the past, but he didn’t want to leave San Antonio. He has spent 19 years (almost half of his life) with the Spurs organization. Over the years, a number of reasons were given for why he was content staying on Gregg Popovich’s staff as an assistant coach, with the two most common being that his family enjoyed living in San Antonio and that he was waiting for Popovich to retire so that he could take over the Spurs. The fact that Atlanta was able to lure Budenholzer away when other teams had failed was somewhat surprising in and of itself.
While the move was a shock, there’s no denying that it is a terrific hire for Atlanta. Budenholzer has long been considered one of the best assistant coaches in the league and the only reason why he wasn’t linked to more jobs was because, again, nobody thought he was leaving San Antonio.
However, the reason Budenholzer left the Spurs was because this opportunity with the Hawks is different than others he passed up in the past. League sources had said that Budenholzer wouldn’t leave San Antonio unless the perfect situation presented itself and that’s basically what he has in Atlanta.
Budenholzer will be able to work with Danny Ferry, the Hawks’ general manager and president of basketball operations, whom he knows well from their time together with the Spurs. Budenholzer will also be able to help build the roster from scratch rather than inheriting a team full of players, since the Hawks only have three players with guaranteed contracts for next season (Al Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins). Atlanta has a ton of salary cap space to work with this summer as well as two first-round picks (No. 17 and No. 18) in June’s draft.
When Budenholzer was introduced, he made it clear that he wouldn’t have left San Antonio if it weren’t for the special opportunity that Atlanta had to offer.
“I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of the San Antonio Spurs organization for the last 19 years. I knew it would have to be a tremendous situation for me to leave and clearly coming to Atlanta as the head coach of the Hawks is perfect for me,” Budenholzer said. “Ownership’s commitment to taking this organization to the next level and creating a unique and special culture, partnering with a general manager like Danny Ferry who I have great respect for, and building a roster that has terrific potential because of the existing core and the ensuing flexibility presents a rare and uniquely positive opportunity.”
Budenholzer instantly gives the Hawks credibility and Ferry can further model his organization after the Spurs franchise.
“We are thrilled to have Mike as the next coach of the Atlanta Hawks,” Ferry said. “He has an incredible basketball acumen and has a keen awareness of the league and what it takes to be successful. His experience and four championships over the last 17 years provide a tremendous foundation for his leadership of our team.”
During Budenholzer’s time in San Antonio, the Spurs compiled a league-best 908-438 (.675) record. He was promoted to Popovich’s lead assistant six seasons ago, his 13th season with the team. While Popovich was upset to lose one of the best coaches on his staff, he made it clear that he was thrilled for Budenholzer. Because Budenholzer is such a great coach, Popovich had to know this day would eventually come.
“I couldn’t be happier for Mike for many reasons,” Popovich said. “As anyone who’s been part of this program knows, he has been more of a co-head coach than an assistant for a long time. His knowledge of the game as well as his ability to teach and develop relationships with players are all special. I will miss him a great deal both professionally and personally and am confident that he and Danny will make a great team as the future unfolds.”
Much of the Hawks’ future is up in the air since Ferry and Budenholzer have a roster to build over the next several months. However, they filled an important position this week, and it seems they picked the right man for the job.
NBA Draft Combine 2013 Coverage
The HOOPSWORLD team had the 2013 Draft Combine covered from start to finish, live on the ground.
Catch all of the video interviews from yesterday’s collegiate stars and this year’s NBA rookie class.
You can find HOOPSWORLD’s 2013 draft combine coverage here.