By Matthew Citak
Thursday marks the day of this year’s NBA draft, where 60 young men will get drafted to play in the NBA. While everyone knows about the big names out there, such as Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Otto Porter, and Victor Oladipo, there are numerous guys being projected as second round picks that could end up having some of the more noteworthy careers from this draft class. While this might be the first time you hear of these names, it certainly won’t be the last. Here is our list of the Top 5 Sleeper picks in the 2013 NBA Draft.
5. Colton Iverson
There are several reasons why Colton Iverson is projected to be a low second round pick. For starters, he only had one successful season in college. After three subpar years at Minnesota, Iverson transferred to Colorado State where he finally had a solid season, averaging 14.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. In those first three seasons, he never averaged more than 5.4 points. Secondly, because he transferred, Iverson was forced to sit out one year. This makes him one year older than the other graduating seniors in the draft.
At 24 years old, some teams may shy away from drafting the big man. However, whoever does decide to roll the dice on Iverson is going to get a very solid backup center, helped by his size, strength, and willingness to do the dirty work underneath the basket. Iverson has already shown that he is dedicated to having a successful NBA career. Since his season ended, Iverson has worked to shed body fat to help with his speed and has been working on his mid-range jump shot. Barring any injuries or unforeseen events, Iverson is in for a very long NBA career.
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4. Myck Kabongo
If it weren’t for the 23 game suspension he received this past season, Kabongo would have been a sure first round pick. But he was suspended, and only played 11 games, dropping him out of the talks as one of the country’s elite point guards and into the second round of the draft. Kabongo is extremely quick, which helps him get to the basket easily. His quickness, along with his quick hands and his 6’6” wingspan, makes him a very good defender. In his 11 games for Texas, Kabongo averaged 14.6 points per game, along with 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals. The young point guard is a very good ball handler with great court vision, and does a great job of delivering the ball right where a catch-and-shoot teammate wants it.
Kabongo’s length makes him one of the better rebounding point guards in this draft, averaging 5.0 per game last season. Kabongo has the potential to be a very solid point guard in the NBA, but his inconsistency and lack of readiness has led to teams shying away from the 21-year-old guard. After some experience in the NBA and after developing his game under the right coach, Kabongo could have a bright future ahead of him.
3. James Ennis
Similar to Kabongo, Ennis does not have that much basketball experience on a high level. He played just two years at Long Beach State after transferring from Ventura Junior College. However, he did see some great success while at Long Beach State. Last season Ennis averaged 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He is a 6’7” small forward with a near 7’ wingspan, using his long arms to jump passing lanes. Ennis is incredibly athletic and had some spectacular dunks this past season. He is strong, explosive, and very aggressive when attacking the basket.
One of Ennis’ strengths is his textbook shooting motion and his ability to get a shot off in rhythm. He shot 36% from the 3PT line this past season, a solid percentage for a player his size. Ennis has already shown that he is willing to put the work in to become a great player. Since the end of the season, he has participated in numerous showcases in order to show off his skills, playing at the Portsmouth Invitational along with a few group workouts. Ennis has shown nothing but improvement over the last year, and with a work ethic like that, could end up being one of the best scorers to come out of this draft class.
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2. Grant Jerrett
Normally you leave for the draft after a great season in college. Jerrett did the opposite. After not receiving as many minutes last season as he would have liked, along with the great recruiting class Arizona had, Jerrett decided to bolt for the NBA knowing his stock would be low after averaging only 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. However, at the NBA Combine, he began to turn heads, showing off his size and shooting. Jerrett stands at 6’10”. Not that many people his size can shoot 40.5% from the 3PT line. In the perimeter shooting test at the Combine, Jerrett shot 72%, one of the top performances of all the players there.
While his freshmen year performance was all-around disappointing, he did show some flashes of greatness. In the March 2nd contest against UCLA, Jerrett finished the game with 14 points, going 4-5 from long range. At 19 years old, Jerrett would definitely be a long-term project for whoever drafts him. However, with the potential of him becoming a very serviceable stretch 4 sometime down the road, he is definitely worth the risk.
1. Ricardo Ledo
Of all the players on this list, Ledo has the best chance of being drafted in the first round. Most mock drafts project him going somewhere between the very end of the first round and the beginning of the second. Ledo comes into the draft as being one of the more interesting stories. He got to Providence his freshmen year after being a highly-regarded high school prospect. However, because of academic issues Ledo never became eligible to play for Providence, and declared for the draft after sitting out the entire year. Even with his lack of game-experience during the last year, Ledo still enters the draft as one of the most talented shooting guards.
He is considered to be one of the best ball handlers in the draft, as well as one of the most versatile players. He uses his ball handling skills to create separation between him and the defender, helping him to create his own shot. At 6’6”, Ledo can guard multiple positions and can play multiple positions himself. He also has a very high basketball I.Q., has a great ability to see the floor and is capable of serving as the primary ball handler at times. There is no question that Ledo has a ton of talent and potential. Had he played this past season at Providence, there is a good chance we’d be discussing a top 10 player instead of a borderline first rounder. Ledo is a risk at the end of the first round. But if he can sort out his character issues and realize his potential in the NBA, Ledo could very well end up being one of the best players to come out of this draft class.
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