The draft offers hope for every fan base. Once a player gets settled into the league, we can tell pretty quickly whether he can hang or not — but on draft night every prospect has the potential to be the impact player your team needs. At least for the first 40 or so picks. After that, fans get a little more realistic about a player’s chance to become even a rotation player.
But there are always one or two players drafted late who can surprise the league, and if the Pelicans are going to make anything out of the 2015 draft, they’ll have to find a sleeper at #56. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the players taken #50 or later in the last nine NBA drafts and see if we can find a common thread to help us identify the next potential sleeper.
- Cory Jefferson, SF, Baylor – Four year college player who tested very well athletically.
- James Ennis, SF, Long Beach State – Four years out of high school; Tested well athletically
- Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga – Five year college player. Did a little bit of everything, nothing exceptional.
- Robbie Hummel, SF, Purdue – Four year player, very good shooter.
- E’Twaun Moore, PG/SG, Purdue – Four year college player. SG in a PG’s body. Rebounds well.
- Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington – Three year college starter. Gets to the line a ton. Very undersized.
- Lavoy Allen, PF, Purdue – Four year college player. Fantastic rebounder.
- Jeremy Evans, SF, Western Kentucky – Four year college player. Insane athleticism
- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s – Two year college player with international background. Volume 3-pt shooter.
- AJ Price, PG, Conneticut – Three year college player and team captain. Gets a lot of assists and a good 3-pt shooter.
- Ramon Sessions, PG/SG, Nevada – Three year college player. Gets to the line. SG in a PG’s body.
- Ryan Hollins, C, UCLA – Four year player who rebounded well in limited minutes and had good athletic numbers.
Observations and Trends
* Can we do away with this idea that a “draft and stash” with foreign players is a good idea here? This is what teams have been doing for years at the end of the second round and nothing ever comes out of it. The best prospect of all the guys taken at the end of the second round over the last 5 years (and there have been 19 of them), is King Joffrey Lauvergne. The truth is that if a foreign player has any type of potential, he is taken as a draft and stash late in the first or early in the second round, like Nikola Mirotic. There are no decent foreign prospects left this late in the draft.
* While you might have been able to get a raw big man a few years ago, those guys all get snatched up earlier now, and the market inefficiency seems to be guards and wings. Specifically, undersized guards who can get their own shot or guards who can’t play defense seem to be available. Also, wings with incredible athleticism but lacking polish seem to have a chance if coached up correctly. Oh, and obviously you want a guy who has been out of high school for at least 3 or 4 years.
* The Spurs are either really good at locating these players (Nando de Colo almost made this list) or they are really good at developing them. Maybe both. If I stretched this list out for more years (Manu Ginóbili) and/or dropped it down to the 40th pick (Dejuan Blair, Goran Dragic, Malik Rose), then it would be even more impressive.
* The path seems to be either get these guys on a bad team to play big minutes (I. Thomas, Sacre, Hummel) or a good team to play limited minutes in a very specific role (Jefferson, Mills, Evans, Allen).
Let’s take a look at a few potential sleepers the Pelicans should be considering with the 56th pick in the 2015 NBA draft:
Joseph Young, PG/SG, Oregon – Four year college player who is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. Volume 3-pt shooter who is also an elite FT shooter and rebounds well for his size. Seems like a culmination of all the guards we have seen on this list.
Olivier Hanlan, PG/SG, Boston College – Three year college player who does a little bit of everything (19.5 pts, 4.2 assists, 4.2 rebs), but is a little too slow for PG and too small to play SG.
Tyler Harvey, SG, Eastern Washington – Three year college player who is a volume 3-pt shooter (9.6 attempts per game this year), who hits at a good rate (41% this year, 43% last year). Doesn’t do much else, but the kid can light it up.
Michael Qualls, SG, Arkansas – Three year college player who can score, takes lots of three’s, and rebounds well for his position. Also is extremely athletic. If he can get his 3-point shot down (33% on 4.6 attempts this year), he will be a steal in this draft.
Josh Richardson, SG/SF, Tennessee – A potential 3-and-D player who can actually create for others quite a bit as well. Richardson’s jump shot is still a work in progress, and so is his body. But if he can improve on those thing (the two easiest to improve, according to most, in the NBA), then he could be a solid rotation player for years to come.
Darrun Hilliard, SF, Villanova – Four year college player who has good athleticism and can knock down the three (40% on 5 attempts per game last 2 years). Doesn’t rebound well and needs to put on some weight, but he could be a rotation player down the line.
Branden Dawson, SF/PF, Michigan State – If you watched the NCAA Tournament, you couldn’t miss this guy. Ultimate do everything guy in the mold of Draymond Green, but he is a terrible shooter. Fix that, and you have the steal of the draft.
Larry Nance, Jr., SF/PF, Wyoming – Four year prospect who got better each and every year and he can do a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor. Obviously, he has a tremendous pedigree and his sizw/skill set could help him evolve into that hybrid forward that everyone seems to covet now.
Aaron White, PF, Iowa – Four year player who got better every year and is starting to develop a three-point shot to go along with his tremendous open court game and ball handling skills for a big man. White will never be a plus defender, but he would be able to score for an uptempo team, and if he continues his improvement from the 3-pt line, he could be a terrific small ball 4.
Alan Williams, C, UC Santa Barbara – In the mold of Lavoy Allen, Williams is an undersized center who is a terrific rebounder (14.8 per 40 over his career) that can also block some shots and score around the basket. He will get drafted late (if at all) because he is undersized (6’8″, 261), but he has an impressive wingspan (7’2″) and a great motor. If he was 2-3 inches taller, he would be a top 15 pick, and those are the kinds of guys you get value on late.
Who do you like with the 56th pick?
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