2014 NBA Draft: Potential First Round Sleepers
With the 2014 NBA Draft quickly approaching, coverage for top prospects like Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum continues to swarm the headlines, while many less notable prospects are forced to remain almost anonymous to the mainstream media.
Many of these concealed prospects fall out of legitimate lottery contention due to their heightened age or the lack of competition they faced.
Others are also looked down upon simply because of their physical limitations, something that can be nearly impossible to manage.
With that in mind, let’s go ahead and take a look at a few prospects that could be potential first round sleepers in this year’s draft.
Clint Capela, Switzerland, PF/C
Capela’s draft stock took a major dip after a disappointing performance in the Nike Hoops Summit, posting a forgettable 5 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes and drawing criticism for his relatively raw skill set.
But scouts need to remember this was just one game.
At 6’11” and with a towering 7’4″ wingspan, Capela has the physical tools to dominate both offensively and defensively.
His elite athleticism and above average speed also speak volumes to his potential, as he’s drawn comparisons to Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried since they both utilize their explosiveness to attack the paint.
It may take some seasoning to develop Capela into what he’s projected to be down the line, but if he’s placed in the right system, don’t be surprised to see his name headlining box scores in a few years.
Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, PG
Payton has emerged onto many mock drafts over the last few months, due to his solid athleticism and fearless attacking ability.
At 6’4″, he constantly uses his size to drive inside like a rhino and finish over defenders with ease, which would translate well at the next level given that he would tower over most defenders at his position.
However one facet of his game he must improve on is his shooting, as he made a substandard 25.9 percent of his three point shots, something that has to be corrected if he’s to carve a successful career in the NBA.
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, SF/PF
Teams typically tend to view a player’s upside by his age, which can be an unfair but sometimes spot-on assessment.
This is exactly why Cleanthony Early isn’t viewed as a one of the more elite prospects in this draft, as his age of 23 unfortunately screams limited upside and ‘what you see is what you get’ potential.
However Early has the tools to be a successful player in this league despite his seniority, as he utilizes his serious hops and smooth shooting touch to fill up the score board in a hurry, as evident by his 24 points per 40 minutes average.
If a team in need of a wing like the Suns or Grizzlies select Early in the draft, expect him to contribute immediately as he has the skills to be a solid starter from the get-go.
Jordan Adams, UCLA, SG/PG
With all the hype surrounding UCLA teammates Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine, it was puzzling to see Jordan Adams garner less attention despite leading the roster in both scoring (17.4) and steals per game (2.6).
At 220 pounds, Adams uses his tank-like strength to bully his opponents inside and get to the rim with reckless abandon once he spots an opening.
He also has the ability to pull up from both mid-range and behind the arc, capitalizing on spot up opportunities and screens which makes him a pretty tough cover overall.
Where Adams makes the most impact though is on the defensive end of the floor, as he led the nation in steals per 40 minutes and held an impressive 96.7 defensive rating last season.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops