The 2013 draft isn’t loaded with a lot of top-level talent, but it does have a compelling amount of depth. This is great news for the Brooklyn Nets, who own the 22nd pick and probably won’t have a shot at selecting a highly touted player.
The Nets should, however, have the opportunity to find value near the end of the first round, where a quality sleeper could be available.
There isn’t a ton of separation in the ability of the players projected to be taken in the latter stages of the first round, so it’s all about finding the right fit. Certain general managers will be looking to fill a particular need, while others will simply look to take the best available player on the board.
If Billy King’s top options are gobbled up early on, he may look toward a player who’s flown under the radar over the past couple of months.
A few sleepers who should be available for Brooklyn at No. 22 include point guard Isaiah Canaan of Murray State, center Mike Muscala of Bucknell and Louisville point guard Peyton Siva.
Canaan was the floor general for a Murray State team that went a combined 50-12 over the last two seasons. The 22-year-old led the Racers to an NCAA tournament appearance as a junior and finished No. 6 in the nation in scoring as a senior.
A four-year college player, Canaan averaged 21.8 points on 43 percent shooting in 2012-13. During his junior season, the 6’1”, 195-pound point guard shot 45 percent from beyond the arc and nearly 47 percent from the field.
Despite his lack of size, Canaan has a 6’4” wingspan and is an elite athlete with an exceptional handle. He’s also one of the best shooters in the draft at his position. He appears equally comfortable shooting off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations.
Canaan was a shoot-first guard in college, which means he has the potential to become a combo guard at the next level. According to Ben Couch of NBA.com, he was supposed to work out for the Nets on Wednesday but couldn’t participate due to an injury. He is projected to be a late first-round or early second-round selection.
Muscala might be one of the most underrated players in this year’s draft. The 6’11”, 240-pound center was the best player on a Bucknell team that made the NCAA tournament this year for only the sixth time in school history. On March 6, 2013, Muscala became the Bison’s all-time leading scorer.
Muscala didn’t get a lot of attention from NBA scouts because he played in a small conference. But he performed well against big-time programs, posting 25 points and 14 rebounds against Missouri. During his junior season, he accounted for 20 points, nine boards and four blocks in an NIT game versus Arizona.
The 22-year-old averaged 18.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks for the Bison in 2012-13. He possesses a smooth face-up shot and a variety of post moves, including a devastating lefty jump hook.
Most importantly, Muscala brings a ton of effort and energy on both ends of the court. He gets up and down in transition and rebounds at a high rate. He also shot above 80 percent from the free-throw line throughout his college career.
It seems strange calling Peyton Siva a sleeper. He was, after all, the point guard of the team that won the NCAA national championship this year.
But Siva gets little respect from many so-called NBA draft gurus, who believe he lacks the size to compete at the NBA level. Most mock drafts have Siva being taken at the end of the second round, and some have him going undrafted.
Siva is listed at 6’0”, but he’s more like 5’11” on a good day. Either way, he makes up for his lack of height with incredible athleticism. He uses his explosive quickness to get to the rim and leave defenders in the dust. He also possesses exceptional leaping ability, which he showcased on an alley-oop finish in the national championship game against Michigan.
Siva averaged just 10 points and 5.7 assists during his senior season, but he excelled in other areas, averaging 2.3 steals for the No. 1-ranked defense in the country.
Siva was one of 10 players who participated in the Nets' NBA draft workout on May 23, and reportedly turned a few heads, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.
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