NBA Draft 2014: Breaking Down Under-the-Radar Lottery Prospects

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IApril 26, 2014

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05: James Young #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats brings the ball up the floor during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid are the front-runners to potentially go No. 1 overall in this summer's 2014 NBA draft. 

But after those three come off the board, it's anyone's guess as to what will happen next.

Here, I'll highlight a trio of lottery prospects flying under the radar ahead of June's draft.  


Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 01:  Tyler Ennis #11 of the Syracuse Orange takes a shot against the defense of Amile Jefferson #21 of the Duke Blue Devils during the first half at the Carrier Dome on February 1, 2014 in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Rich Barnes
Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Syracuse's disappointing third-round exit from the NCAA tournament has freshman point guard Tyler Ennis soaring under the radar ahead of June's draft.

Although Australia's Dante Exum is the consensus top point guard available this summer, Ennis is no doubt a close second, right alongside Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart. In addition to sensational court vision, the 19-year-old displays tremendous quickness with the ball in his hands and possesses decent size (6'2", 180 lbs) to make up for his lack of athleticism. 

ESPN Insider's analytics guru Kevin Pelton (subscription required) breaks down Ennis and draws an encouraging comparison to Denver Nuggets floor general Ty Lawson:

While Ennis' stats regressed a bit after we checked in on his rise midseason, he remains a top-10 prospect by the numbers. Basically, anything not related to scoring was a strength for the precocious Ennis. Only one other prospect in my database, Ty Lawson, combined a translated assist rate better than seven percent with a turnover rate of less than 15 percent of his plays.

The Canadian averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game for the Orange in 2013-14 and has the potential to develop into an exceptional point guard in the NBA if he can continue to add range and consistency to his jump shot. 


Rodney Hood, SF, Duke

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 21:  Rodney Hood #5 of the Duke Blue Devils with the ball against the Mercer Bears in the first half in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 21, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

When you hear Duke and 2014 NBA draft in the same sentence, you immediately think of Parker. But Parker isn't the only former Blue Devil with lottery potential this summer. Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood showed massive improvement last season after sitting out for a year.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski commended Hood for his contributions away from the court two seasons ago, according to the Associated Press (via USA Today):

"He was an integral part of our team two years ago because he was such a great practice player and this year he was one of the best players in the country. ... He will do really well in the NBA and obviously he will always be a part of what we do and we wish him the best."

The 21-year-old lefty averaged 16.1 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting from the floor and 42 percent shooting from behind the arc last season. 

But while there's no denying Hood's shooting ability, as he hits consistently from mid-range and further, he'll have to get stronger and improve as a rebounder in order to experience success as an NBA small forward. The 6'8" sophomore averaged only four boards in 33 minutes per game in 2013-14 and wasn't all that impressive on the defensive end, either. 

Nonetheless, Hood projects to be a late lottery pick this summer, thanks to his vast offensive potential.


James Young, SF, Kentucky

Kentucky small forward James Young is an intriguing prospect as a result of his combination of size and shooting touch, but the 18-year-old, who plays more like a shooting guard, still has ways to go before he can be considered a complete NBA player.

Standing 6'7" with a 6'11" wingspan, it's no wonder why scouts love Young's size and length, which allow him to do this:

Credit: CBS Sports

Young's stock was boosted by his improved shooting numbers down the stretch of last season. He finished the season shooting 35 percent from downtown but was a combined 9-of-21 (43 percent) from deep in six NCAA tournament games.

As ESPN Insider's Chad Ford (subscription required) points out, Young projects as a potential lottery pick this summer:

...Scouts see a lot of potential in Young to be a very good NBA wing with size, athleticism and a good shooting touch. He may take a little longer to get there than some other prospects, but the general consensus is that he's worth a pick in the late lottery to mid-first round.

Young is at his best when he's spotting up behind the arc, but he can also wreak havoc when penetrating and looking to attack the rim, as he showed in the national championship game when he earned nine free throws and finished with 20 points to lead the Wildcats.

That performance also showcased Young's motor, which is one of his strongest attributes.

Adding consistency to his jump shot will be the biggest key for him at the next level, but with tremendous size and energy to fall back on, there's no doubt Young has the potential to come off the board just outside the top 10.


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