2014 NBA Draft Prospects: Big Men That Could Be Steals
With a draft class that’s swamped with talent from head to toe, many skilled big men have flown almost completely under-the-radar as we approach the final week of draft preparations.
Players like Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh and Joel Embiid all sound like household names when we start to think of elite bigs, but what about the hidden gems that typically don’t come to mind? (barring that you’re not an avid college basketball fan)
For those teams searching for answers inside, but don’t possess a 1st round pick or want to break the bank, here’s your solution. The main requirement for all of the players listed below is that they’re either projected go in the second round or even undrafted.
Dwight Powell, Stanford, 6’11”, PF/C
After showing loads promise in his junior season, Powell had a rather disappointing final year, posting about the same scoring average of 14 points and dropping his three point percentage – one of the better facets of his game.
Much of this can be attributed to the pressures of being a second option on offense, nevertheless his ability to generate points from mid and long range as well as his above average athleticism still have a few teams interested in his services.
While Powell may never blossom into a superstar stretch 4 like Kevin Love, he still has the potential to be a serviceable combo big that can play a similar style to Ryan Anderson, given that he can bulk up and develop a stronger defensive game.
Johnny O’Bryant, LSU, 6’9″, PF
Armed with a tank for a body, a 7’2″ wingspan and a smooth inside-out game, O’Bryant possesses the necessary tools to be one of the more NBA ready prospects in this draft, even though he’s slated to go in the late 2nd round.
A 2 time All-SEC First team player, O’Bryant has no problem scoring baskets with ease despite being undersized, consistently getting to the free throw line and stretching the floor with his jumper, reminding many scouts of Hawks star Paul Millsap.
If O’Bryant can improve his offensive consistency as well as his conditioning, expect the bruising power forward to turn heads a few years down the line and make teams wonder why they passed him up in the second round.
Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 6’11”, PF/C
It’s hard to believe only 2 years ago Isaiah Austin ranked third in his recruiting class.
The lanky big man from Texas possessed an arsenal of offensive skills that was supposed to carry him to the upper ranks of the draft class, but instead struggled to score well against bigger players-which evidently hurt his stock.
However, despite his offensive shortcomings, defensively Austin still showed signs of promise, using his 7’4″ wingspan to block shots at will and protect the paint efficiently without giving up too many fouls.
Even though Austin is still years away from making a notable impact, teams could invest in his services with hopes he’ll develop into the top tier player he was once projected to be during his high school days.
The key to his long term success will be bulking up (220 lbs) and gaining a comfort zone on offense if he’s to eventually progress into a starter or sixth man.