NBA Draft 2013: Underrated Players Who Will Prove to Be Steals
Even in a weak draft, there are steals to be had in the second round.
For months, you've likely heard all about how the 2013 NBA draft class is bare naked. About how there are very few all stars at the top and even less depth throughout.
Nevertheless, while that may be true, at least a few rookies out-playing their draft status is a certainty as old as time—like pizza always being delicious, or Derek Fisher always having ginormous biceps.
No matter the strength of the class, there are always second-round picks who shouldn't actually be second-round picks.
Just look at the 2011 draft. Several of the top 10 picks have yet to pan out, but we already have Jimmy Butler (pick No. 30), Chandler Parsons (No. 38) and Isaiah Thomas (No. 60) as legitimate NBA starters.
Let's take a look at some of this year's candidates to fill a similar role.
Andre Roberson, SF, Colorado
The Denver Post's John Henderson lays out Andre Roberson's draft prospects rather...coldly:
There's a 100 percent chance Andre Roberson will not go in the first round. #cubuffs— John Henderson (@JohnHendersonDP) May 3, 2013
If I'm a general manager and I land Roberson in the second round, I'm absolutely ecstatic.
Sure, he's a tweener. At 6'7", he lacks the size to defend NBA big men or the ball-handling and consistent outside shooting to be an offensive threat at the 3.
But Roberson more than makes up for that with explosive athletic ability, relentless energy and unteachable intangibles.
As a junior, he averaged 11.2 rebounds (second most in America), 1.3 blocks (127th) and 2.2 steals (25th) per game. While his offensive production will be mostly limited to transition dunks and offensive putbacks at first, he has the skill set to clean up the glass and be an elite lockdown perimeter defender.
Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
I've been clamoring for Nate Wolters to be a first-round pick ever since witnessing him thoroughly destroy Washington in Seattle last year. His stock has continued to rise since then, but most believe he's still a second-rounder.
Where is Nate Wolters in 5 years?
His statistics are jaw-dropping: 22.3 points (fourth-most in America), 5.8 assists (22nd), 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (26th), 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals (110th) with efficient averages from the field.
Before you shout about how he played in the Summit League, know that the process matches the results.
Most importantly for his NBA future, Wolters is a magician off the pick-and-roll. He is adept at either getting to the basket or finding an open teammate, but his ability to keep the defender on his hip and finish with an array of crafty mid-range shots is unlike anything I've seen.
Oh, and he held the draft's No. 1 point guard Trey Burke to six points on 2-of-12 shooting in the NCAA tournament.
Wolters may lack ideal athleticism, but his combination of size (6'4, 190 pounds), versatile scoring, playmaking ability and hard work is downright impressive:
There is little doubt Wolters is a player who can instantly make an NBA team better.
Jackie Carmichael, PF, Illinois State
Carmichael, who is already 23 years old, may not have the same upside of players expected to be drafted around him, but he already has the look of NBA rotational big man.
He certainly has the size. At 6'9"—not ideal height, but his 7'0" wingspan makes up for it—and a muscular 241 pounds, he can downright control the interior of the paint, where he is a consistent finisher under duress and an elite rebounder.
Of course, he's also a vacuum on the boards because he does things like this:
In all seriousness, though, Carmichael averaged a stout 9.3 rebounds (2.5 offensive) and shot 52.7 percent from the field en route to 17.4 points per contest as a senior with the Redbirds. He is simply a strong, efficient, lunch-pail-and-hard-hat-type player capable of carving out space for himself down low.
But what makes Carmichael so unique is that in addition to being a load down low, he has the gaudy athleticism to run the court or put defenders on posters with highlight-reel dunks:
Throw it all together—strength, threat in transition, a hard-working, intense, energetic attitude and rim-protecting skills (2.0 blocks per contest)—and Carmichael is very reminiscent of Kenneth Faried without the hair.
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