For about the last 20 years – as the number of early-entrant underclassmen entered the NBA Draft and the league got younger – a common refrain was that some of these kids could use more time in college. It’s a cliché that is only warranted sometimes. The thinking is that NBA coaches don’t have the time to teach the game to these raw pups. But, what if you weren’t getting that developmental coaching in college, either? Then what?
C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are among the top 50 prospects in the 2013 draft class. They are both coming off of a season at N.C. State that ended prematurely, losing in the NCAA tournament’s second round to an inferior Temple squad. That Leslie, a versatile 6´9 forward with chops, and Brown, a big, swaggy 6´5 point guard, aren’t locks for the first round is a testament to unrealized potential. And for this, you can point some fingers at Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried.
Mark Gottfried squads have finished the season ranked in the top 25 all of twice in the 14 seasons he’s spent coaching Alabama and N.C. State. This past season’s Wolfpack squad might not have been the deepest bunch, but they were talented. Sweet 16-type talented. But, of course, that didn’t happen and it was mostly due to Gottfried’s failure to maximize his roster’s potential.
After the team’s tourney loss, Leslie said flatly, “We just weren’t motivated.”
Well, depending on where Leslie and Brown end up in the draft, this can change. The discipline and teaching they failed to get at N.C. State could come in the form of a pro coach or an invested, veteran teammate.
And this could pay huge dividends. Leslie can play both forward positions (especially in the small-ball era), can put it on the floor, has a developing post game and mid-range jumper and protects the rim well for his size.
Brown is a big, physical combo guard, a one man fast break that distributes the ball willingly and with flair. He could improve his jumper, but that’s the case with a critical mass of young guards coming into the pros.
Five years from now, when folks play that game where you re-pick this draft based on the players’ bona fides during the first stage of their careers, it’s not unlikely that both of these dudes go in the lottery. Next week, it’ll likely be the second round. Say hello to the 2013 NBA Draft Sleepers.