NBA Draft 2013: All-Sleeper Team
Every draft has its sleepers. Whether these players have been overlooked or just haven't fulfilled their potential quite yet, the beauty of the draft is that teams always have a chance at getting a difference maker—regardless of their draft spot.
While sleeper picks come in all shapes and sizes, a good place to start is to find players with an elite skill.
Prospects that are "jack of all trades" types and aren't good enough to go in the lottery rarely pan out. Instead, it's usually the guys with one NBA-ready skill that make the surprise impact. Here's looking at you, Danny Green.
With that all said, let's mine the 2013 draft for gold.
PG: Erick Green, Virginia Tech
Teams focused on analytics should love Erick Green. Scoring 25 points per game in the ACC is no joke, but the focus should be on the ways Green accomplished that.
Green led all point guard prospects with a ridiculous 8.9 free-throw attempts (pace adjusted) per 40 minutes. For comparison's sake, that's more than double the free-throw rate of fellow ACC guard Shane Larkin, who is projected to go a good 20 picks before Green does.
Green wasn't just an inefficient possession hog for a bad team, either. His true shooting percentage of 59.2 percent his senior year was very good, especially considering the scoring load he shouldered.
While his assist rate and distributing skills don't scream "point guard," Green is a pure scorer with the second-fewest turnovers per 40 minutes among all point guards. He can stroke it from behind the arc, and he plays with an aggression that could translate to him being an extremely good sixth man capable of putting up points in a hurry.
Currently projected to go in the 30-40 range, Green has the scoring chops to drastically outplay his draft slot.
SG: Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
Archie Goodwin came to Kentucky with a ton of hype. He was considered a top-20 recruit by nearly every service, and he was supposed to be another in the long line of John Calipari's one-and-done stars.
It never happened. Goodwin had an uninspiring year for a bad Wildcats team, failing to demonstrate a decent jumper or ability to stretch the floor.
If Goodwin were a stock, buying low right now would be a good idea.
The physical makeup is all there. Goodwin is an explosive athlete who can get to the rim, and his incredible length and quickness bode well for his prospects defensively.
He just looks like an NBA player, and while the eye test can often betray you, it's important to keep in mind how young Goodwin is and what he accomplished (17.8 points per 40 minutes) without the benefits of a reliable jumper.
Goodwin is currently projected to go in the 35-50 range, but few players offer the upside he does. A shot doctor, plenty of repetitions and a lot of patience could turn Goodwin into a quality starting wing.
There's a reason he was so highly regarded out of high school.
SG/SF: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Remember what I said about elite skills? San Diego State swingman Jamaal Franklin definitely has one.
Maybe it's not exactly what you'd expect from a 6'5" wing player, but Franklin is one of the best rebounding prospects in the draft. Not just for his position, either; I mean the whole draft.
Franklin's glass work is a symbol for the rest of his game. He works hard on the floor, hustles and uses his tremendous length to cover multiple positions. He's also incredibly aggressive attacking the rim, averaging 8.2 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes.
The questions with Franklin all come back to his shooting, but his high-release shot looks fundamentally sound. The pressure of being "the man" at the next level won't fall on Franklin, so it's reasonable to expect the shot attempts off the dribble and turnovers to decline, which should improve his effectiveness offensively.
Franklin may project to be a role player, but every team needs players who can have a huge impact on the game (rebounding and defense) without the ball. Franklin will do that on the next level.
PF: Tony Mitchell, North Texas
If there were a checklist for what scares teams away, Tony Mitchell would meet almost every requirement.
Small-school player? Check. Regression in his sophomore year? Check. Undersized tweener forward? Check.
That provides some clarity on why Mitchell, an incredible athlete with a sound skill base and tremendous defensive potential, is currently projected to be taken toward the end of the first round instead of in the lottery.
Even Mitchell's closest player comparison is a guy seemingly everyone has a love-hate relationship with: Josh Smith.
Despite all the red flags, it's impossible to ignore Mitchell's athletic gifts. As a small-ball 4 in an uptempo system, Mitchell is a guy who projects to gain his team a lot of extra possessions via offensive rebounds and blocked shots, while providing decent stretch with his jumper.
When he's engaged, he's a menace on both ends.
There will be mental errors and mistakes from Mitchell, but very few players in this draft possess a more tantalizing combination of athleticism and ability.
C: Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Fit matters. In today's NBA, one of your frontcourt players has to be able to knock down a jumper. Your spacing is doomed otherwise.
Enter Mike Muscala, a center who projects to be a pick-and-pop player despite getting most of his buckets on the block at Bucknell.
Although he's a solid rebounder and a good enough athlete to defend well and protect the rim, Muscala's range is his meal ticket to an NBA rotation spot. The big man averaged 81.9 percent from the free-throw line for his college career, so his touch from 15 feet and beyond is very appealing.
Maybe the best thing about Muscala is that he doesn't have any notable weaknesses. He was a complete player in college, and so long as his range keeps extending, he'll be a complete player in the pros.
There's a lot of depth at his position in this draft, but it's a little baffling that a big man with his skill level could fall to the second round.
6th Man: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Teams that have a post-oriented power forward who doesn't protect the rim (think along the lines of Zach Randolph) should be lining up for Gorgui Dieng.
Rare is the big man who can facilitate out of the high post with great passing and protect the rim on the other end. Marc Gasol and Joakim Noah are two examples, and while no one is saying Dieng is anywhere on their level, their skill sets aren't entirely dissimilar.
Teams have a tendency to evaluate big men with a very old line of thinking, worrying about their ability to score out of the post. But again, spacing is everything, and if the passing ability and free-throw line jumper Dieng showed later in his career at Louisville are real, he'll be a tremendous asset on both ends of the floor thanks to his elite shot-blocking skills.
Yes, he's skinny, and he has no post moves. But that matters less now than it ever has. Dieng can influence a game without using possessions, and that's critical. He could easily become the second-best big man in this class, so long as he's not asked to be something that he's not.