Talented but overlooked, these ballers are trying to move up the draft board at this week’s combine.
The NBA Draft Lottery is over and the Draft Combine began on Wednesday and runs through May 19th in Chicago. The combine will be filled with players who won’t be seeing their names called in the first 10-15 picks of the NBA Draft, but could eventually end up being a low first-round gem or second-round steal for some fortunate NBA team.
In preparation for this week’s combine and next month’s NBA Draft ESPN front office and draft experts, Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz partook in a Q&A with the national media on Thursday and offered The Shadow League his major NBA Draft sleepers.
Marks and Schmitz will be part of ESPN’s Combine coverage from Chicago this week. ESPN2 will televise the 2019 NBA Draft Combine powered by Under Armour from 3-7 p.m. ET, on Thursday, May 16, and Friday, May 17, live from the Quest Multisport Complex.
Isaiah Roby — Forward (Nebraska )
“He’s long, blessed with great length and athletic ability,” Schmitz told The Shadow League.
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Roby arrived on campus as somewhat of a sleeper, with mixed expectations and a three-star rating from 247Sports. It took him a while to become an NBA caliber player, but he’s elevated his game over his three seasons with the program. He averaged a dynamic 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game during last season with the team.
“He’s also a good defender, has a good feel for the game and is a versatile player,” Marks added.
At 6-foot-8, Roby has Draymond Green, swiss-army knife potential.
Grant Williams — Power Foward (Tennessee)
Marks didn’t hesitate to offer Williams’ name as a sleeper and the 6-foot-7 power forward’s personality is already winning points with the media.
“He is so impressive wherever he goes,” analyst Andy Katz said on NBA TV. “NBA cities and teams are going to love him.”
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Williams entered the NBA Draft after a killer junior season in which he averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He claimed his second straight SEC Player of the Year award as the Vols had one of its best seasons in school history.
“He is going to score off the charts in all his team interviews”
Williams has been compared to Philadelphia 76ers player Mike Scott. He’s undersized and lacks some athleticism but he can post up and can stretch the floor with some three-point range. With a solid workout at the combine, he could move up into the lower first round of the Draft.
“He has to get better at defending smaller, quicker guards.” Marks added.
DaQuan Jeffries — G (Tulsa)
“Expect him to go in the mid to late second round, ” Marks said. “He’s got long arms, he’s one of the best athletes in this class, he can shoot and could surprise some people.”
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NBA teams crave versatile wings. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Jeffries fits the mold of the perfect modern playoff wing. His game has mini-Durant written all over it.
Kevin Porter Jr. — G (USC)
Porter junior is a 6-6, shooting guard with a world of skills and some expected immaturity at 19 years old.
“He’s one of the more talented scorers in the draft,” Marks told The Shadow League. “His draft position depends on how he answers interview questions at the combine; like why he had an uneven season… and why he got suspended at USC and why he didn’t show much consistency.”
Porter was crushing the comp in high school and he showed flashes of potential greatness at USC.
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The fans and media get caught up in the first few picks of the NBA Draft. This season, word on the streets is that there’s a tremendous dropoff in talent after the third pick. History, however, shows us that gems can be found in the lower first round or seconds rounds.
For example, 8-time NBA All-star Alex English was the 23rd pick of the first round by Milwaukee in 1976. Once he got to Denver all hell broke loose and he became one of the most prolific scorers the game has ever seen. The eight-time All-Star was the NBA’s scoring champion in 1983 and is still the leading scorer in team history.
The league also missed on boss players like Mo Cheeks, Dennis Johnson, Mark Price, Gilbert Arenas and San Antonio’s Argentinian icon Manu Ginobili, who was the 57th pick in 1999.