NBA Draft 2012: 5 Undersized, Undervalued Prospects
The list of ultra-productive college players who were under-drafted because of their size is impressive.
Kenneth Faried fell to the 22nd overall pick last season despite leading the NCAA in rebounding. He went on to be one of the three most impressive rookies in the 2011 class.
Forty-six players (including the likes of Lior Eliyahu, and Kosta Perović) were drafted ahead of Utah's Paul Millsap, even though the Louisiana Tech product lead the NCAA in rebounding three consecutive years. We all see how that turned out. The list goes on and on, including players like DeJuan Blair, Carl Landry and Reggie Evans––all guys who have given energetic boosts to whatever team they've played for.
Small lineups are becoming part of the NBA zeitgeist, and with them, scrappy, undersized players are becoming a more valuable commodity. But in spite of their sustained success, when NBA draft season rolls around, they will be inevitably discounted for bigger, bouncier, hyper-athletic stiffs.
Here are 2012's five undersized prospects who could soon have NBA teams kicking themselves for passing on them in the draft.
PF Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
DraftExpress Prediction: 19th Overall
Sullinger has been the draft's quickest faller, a descent which recently hit its nadir when the NBA withheld his invitation to sit in the green room in New York.
Widely thought to be a top-five talent had he declared in last year's draft (it's hard to imagine Cleveland taking Tristan Thompson over him), Sully came back to Ohio State to chase a championship. And while he posted similarly dominant numbers in his sophomore season, it gave scouts extra time to pick apart his visible flaws.
Make no mistake about it: Sullinger is a below the rim player. He's got a wide body and doesn't finish with explosion. But he's also scored and rebounded at an alarmingly high rate everywhere he's been, and there's no reason to expect that will stop now.
People look at his wide frame like it's a bad thing, but it's actually one of his biggest strengths. He uses his body to shield off defenders when he makes post moves, rendering him nearly unguardable on the block.
It's been a long time since a prospect has had this advanced of a post game at this young of an age. Those who pass on him will be sorry.
SF/PF Draymond Green (Michigan State)
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DraftExpress Prediction: 26th Overall
Green, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and consensus All-American, has been a difficult case for NBA prospects. He brings so many good things to the table, but he just doesn't look like an NBA player.
But there's no need to pontificate about all of Green's intangibles, that story got overplayed enough during March. Strictly as an on-court prospect, Green has what it takes to play in the league.
He can pass from the high-post. He can shoot from out to 20-feet. He hustles, rebounds and plays help defense. He does everything an NBA team needs from a point-forward, he just does it at 6'7''.
He could easily become a more athletic, higher-motor version of Boris Diaw.
SG/SF Jae Crowder (Marquette)
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DraftExpress Prediction: 43rd Overall
Crowder plays like a forward but has the undeniable size of a guard, which has earned him the dreaded "tweener" label.
It's rare to find a guard on this list, but Crowder's college production is being overlooked, despite the fact that he played in (what many would call) the NCAA's most NBA-ready conference.
Crowder was the Big East Player of the Year in 2011, and his high motor, shooting skills and compact frame are enough to make him a success in the NBA. Think of him as a shooting guard version of Ron Artest, minus the mental issues.
PF Mike Scott (Virginia)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
DraftExpress Prediction: 46th Overall
Predicted to go one pick before Paul Millsap was drafted in 2006, Scott could surprise people by going on to have a similarly productive career.
He's a much different player than Millsap, however. He's a little bit bigger, but he has a higher center of gravity, and lacks the sage-like intuition Millsap has for judging the course of a rebound.
But Scott does the one thing that, as simple as it may be, most NBA scouts gloss over when evaluating prospects: he makes shots. He won't wow with his size, length or vertical, but give him room to shoot, and Scott will bury you. Every. Damn. Time.
Talking about Scott, an NBA scout told SI.com's Seth Davis: "That's my guy. He's a little undersized but he never misses. He doesn't have NBA three-point range...but he never misses from 17 feet and in."
He could be your next Udonis Haslem.
PF Quincy Acy (Baylor)
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DraftExpress Prediction: Undrafted
Despite being flanked by projected first-rounders Perry Jones and Quincy Miller, Acy was actually the heart and soul of the Baylor Bears last season.
His younger, longer, bouncier teammates have NBA scouts drooling over what they could eventually become, but Acy can brag about what he already is––a good basketball player.
He has a high motor, a huge frame and he's absolutely fearless (note the picture of him taking it to Anthony Davis).
He plays a lot like Carl Landry, another productive, undersized college forward who beat the odds to have a good NBA career.