NBA Draft Expert's Notebook: Breaking Down the Top Steals of the Loaded Class

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 8, 2014

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If you're a fan of the NBA draft, then you probably have your own list of sleepers—those second-round hidden gems who nobody seems to be talking about. 

I've had my eyes on a few guys myself. Three of them to be exact. 

There are second-round steals in every draft, and with the depth of this year's class, we're bound to see some first-round talent leak into Round 2. 

I broke down three guys who I think will end up slipping and ultimately offering legitimate value late in this year's draft. These players would definitely go higher if the class wasn't as crowded as it is in 2014, but this will be a talent-packed selection process where some ultimately fall lower than they should.


Jabari Brown, Missouri, 6'5", SG, Junior

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 14:  Jabari Brown #32 of the Missouri Tigers reacts in the final minutes of their 72-49 loss to the Florida Gators during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jabari Brown led the SEC in scoring with 19.9 points a game, a fact that slid slightly under the radar due to Missouri's disappointing season. But the jump he made from his sophomore to junior year was a big one—big enough to land him on the NBA radar. 

Still, in a deep draft, Brown might be forced into this year's second round, where he holds value as an off-ball scorer and shot-maker.


Shooting Stroke

Brown's shooting stroke is money. It's concise with a quick release and plenty of range—catch and shoot, in and out of his hands.   

He nailed 39.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities this past season, per DraftExpress. That's an important number, given his projected role at the next level as a complementary scorer. 

Brown hit 80 three-pointers, or 2.3 per game this year at an excellent 41 percent clip. On 195 attempts, that's a pretty convincing sample size. 

He finished with a strong 62.2 percent true shooting percentage, per Sports-Reference, and as a 46.7 percent shooter from the floor, he hasn't let a heavy jump-shooting attack affect his efficiency or consistency. 

Whether the rest of his scoring arsenal translates or not, Brown will always have a pure shooting stroke to lean on. 


Turns Drives Into Points

Brown didn't average nearly 20 points with just a jumper. He complements a smooth perimeter game with an effective attack game. 

Though not the most creative ball-handler, Brown is a strong opportunistic attacker—when there's a lane, he recognizes it and hits it with a deceptively quick first step.  

And he's got a 214-pound frame built to absorb contact. He took 266 free throws this year (made 79.7 percent of them), or 7.6 per game. That's more than Kansas' Andrew Wiggins or Duke's Jabari Parker took, as well as other projected first-round 2-guards like Michigan State's Gary Harris and Michigan's Nik Stauskas.

Brown also finished 59 percent of his shots at the rim, per Synergy Sports Technology (via DraftExpress), and when the runway was clear, he's shown he can take off and explode:

Though he won't be isolated in one-on-one situations, Brown's ability to finish off the ball, both as a shooter and slasher, is where his appeal lies at the next level.


High-Percentage Basketball  

Despite a heavy 26.1 percent usage rate, Brown turned the ball over just 2.3 times a game. He shoots it well, he finishes and he plays within the offense. This isn't a guy who needs to dance with the ball before putting it up. In the right fit, he might be able to step in right away and contribute some offense of his own.   



Brown won't make his teammates better by creating shots for them, and that really limits his ceiling. He averaged less than two assists per game at a position that requires a little bit of playmaking.

He also isn't overly long, and he doesn't exactly project as a plus defender. You wouldn't be able to stick Brown on any of today's NBA starting scoring guards—at least not at this point. 

If you can accept that his scoring average isn't likely to carry over, and that's he doesn't project as a 30-minute player, Brown should be a nice second-round option for a team in need of some reliable shot-making.


Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'6", PG/SG, Junior

David Becker/Associated Press

Spencer Dinwiddie was a first-round prospect prior to tearing his ACL in January. Now he's a first-round prospect who's bound to slip into Round 2.

That could make him a steal in the 2014 draft if his knee fully recovers. From a glass-half-full perspective, his game was never predicated on explosiveness, anyway. 

Dinwiddie has other strengths and attributes that drive his NBA potential, and as long as he can get out there and run, he shouldn't be restricted from playing his game with limited burst. 

To a patient team that believes in him, Dinwiddie could offer some serious value by 2015-16 on a second-round contract.


Scoring/Facilitating Versatility

Dinwiddie is a combo guard capable of balancing scoring with facilitating, and at 6'6", he's got the size to play either backcourt position. 

Prior to the injury, he was averaging 14.7 points and 3.8 assists through 17 games (he averaged 15.3 points and three assists in a full sophomore year). He was Colorado's lead guard—its offensive go-to playmaker. 

At the point, Dinwiddie sported a solid 2.13 assist-to-turnover ratio (just 1.8 turnovers a game). Between pick-and-rolls and drive-and-kicks, Dinwiddie displayed a natural feel as an orchestrator, and though it's not his NBA calling, it could be nice to have an off-guard with his type of passing vision. 


Perimeter Scoring/Shooting

Dinwiddie has a fairly refined perimeter-scoring arsenal, with the ability to create and make shots behind or around the arc, whether he's stepping back or pulling up. 

After shooting it 43.8 percent from downtown as a freshman, that number fell to just 33.8 percent as a sophomore, but Dinwiddie's stroke returned to form his junior year, when he hit 26 of his 63 attempts (41.3 percent) prior to going down. 

Though it was only 17 games, Dinwiddie finished with a sensational 66.7 percent true shooting percentage his junior year, per Sports-Reference, after converting an impressive 51.5 percent of his two-point attempts and 85.7 percent of his free throws. 

He's shown he can knock down shots from all over the court, balanced or not, open or in traffic. And he should have the size, length and elusiveness to separate at the next level.


Gets to the Line

He took 7.3 free-throw attempts per game as a sophomore and seven a game his junior year. You have to like those numbers from a couple of standpoints. For starters, it illustrates his ability to get to the rack.

Dinwiddie takes long, decisive strides, and he looks awfully smooth when weaving through traffic. And though not too explosive off the bounce, he has the quickness and agility to shake his man or turn the corner. 

And secondly, his free-throw rate shows he's not afraid to initiate contact. Even so, Dinwiddie still has the length and scoring instincts to score in the paint. He might play mostly under the rim, but he's a crafty finisher around it.



The biggest concern with Dinwiddie is obviously his injury, and though he recently tweeted he'll be ready in August, chances are it's going to take him a while to regain strength and ultimately adjust to the NBA game.  

It's just tough to predict how an injury will heal, or if any setbacks will occur in the future. And paying an unproven rookie who can't play might not be a move many general managers would make. There's risk here in drafting Dinwiddie, but if I've got room on my roster, I'm chasing his talent with a second-round pick.


Damien Inglis, France, 6'9", SF, 1995

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 12:  Damien Inglis #8 of the World Team dribbles the ball against Team USA on April 12, 2014 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this pho
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Damien Inglis is just one of those guys who jumps off the screen on tape. At just 18 years old, he played 15.3 minutes a game for Roanne in Pro A France, and with that, he earned himself an invite to the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit. 

Though more of a project than a short-term solution, the upside here makes the reward worth the risk anywhere in the second round. It might even be worth reaching on in the first.


Physical Tools/Defensive Versatility 

Measuring in at 6'8.5" with a massive 7'3" wingspan, per DraftExpress, Inglis has insane measurements for a true small forward. With quick feet, a strong 240-pound frame and absurd length, we're talking about a guy who can lock down guards and wings and defend the post as a 4.  

Even if his offensive game never comes around, Inglis' outlook as a human blanket gives him a high basement floor. 

via DraftExpress

Worst comes to worst, Inglis might be able to carve out a niche for himself as a defensive specialist. His blend of size, length and quickness is awfully rare. 


Passing, Ball-Handling

Inglis has shown strong passing instincts in the half court, and with an impressive handle, he's able to dish on the move to shooters or cutters. 

He can handle it in the open floor and push the break off a defensive board, or he can face his man up on the perimeter and slash to the rack. 

Inglis made a couple of nice passes at the Summit, and though not all of them resulted in buckets, his feel for the game was noticeable. 



Inglis has a pretty high ceiling for a guy that might not crack the first round. He's got some work to do offensively, but he's flashed enough promise to make us think that improvements can be made. 

He shot 38.7 percent from downtown on 12-of-31 shooting this past season. Inglis doesn't exactly have a sharpshooting stroke, but he can connect when open and balanced. 

And though he's a lot smoother off the dribble in the open floor than he is in traffic, he has a strong command of the ball with the ability to get to his spots on the court. 

Between his towering defensive upside and promising offensive game, Inglis has the chance to evolve into a unique two-way weapon. 



Inglis is fairly limited in terms of generating his own offense, and it could be a while before he's able to really threaten the D. As a wing, he's also going to need to be able to knock down outside shots, and he just doesn't look like a natural shooter at this point in time. 

All in all, if you're betting on Inglis, you're betting on his physical tools with the hopes that he's able to fine-tune his skills as he develops in the pros.


2014 NBA Draft Board
1Joel EmbiidKansasCFreshman
2Andrew WigginsKansasSFFreshman
3Jabari ParkerDukeSF/PFFreshman
4Dante ExumAustraliaPG/SG1995
5Noah VonlehIndianaPFFreshman
6Julius RandleKentuckyPFFreshman
7Marcus SmartOklahoma StatePG/SGSophomore
8Dario SaricCroatiaSF/PF1994
9Aaron GordonArizonaPFFreshman
10Tyler EnnisSyracusePGFreshman
11Gary HarrisMichigan StateSGSophomore
12Nik StauskasMichiganSGSophomore
13Jusuf NurkicBosniaC1994
14Doug McDermottCreightonSF/PFSenior
15James YoungKentuckySG/SFFreshman
16Elfrid PaytonLouisiana-LafayettePGJunior
17P.J HairstonTexas Legends (D-League)SG(Junior)
18Zach LaVineUCLASGFreshman
19Shabazz NapierConnecticutPGSenior
20Cleanthony EarlyWichita StateSFSenior
21Adreian PayneMichigan StatePFSenior
22Clint CapelaSwitzerlandPF/C1994
23Kyle AndersonUCLAPG/SFSophomore
24Rodney HoodDukeSFSophomore
25Mitch McGaryMichiganPF/CSophomore
26K.J. McDanielsClemsonSFJunior
27T.J. WarrenNorth Carolina StateSFSophomore
28Vasilije MicicSerbiaPG1994
29Jordan AdamsUCLASGSophomore
30Damien InglisFranceSF1995
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Update Abroad

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia, 6'6", SG/SF, 1992

Bogdan Bogdanovic was recently awarded the Rising Star Trophy (given to the top Euroleague player under 22 years old) after an awesome Euroleague season for Partizan.

He finished No. 5 in the league in scoring with 14.8 points a game, despite moving to point guard early in the year following an injury to starter Leo Westermann. Bogdanovic drilled 50 threes in 23 Euroleague games at a 37 percent clip, and he averaged 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals. 

Bogdanovic is really a crafty playmaker who can create, pass and score on the move. And at 6'6" with a strong frame and a sweet shooting stroke, he could fit nicely on the NBA wing. 

Consider him a fringe first-round prospect with sneaky upside.


Walter Tavares, Gran Canaria, 7'2", C, 1992

At 7'2", you can't miss Walter "Edy" Tavares, who's having a breakout year as a starter in the Spanish ACB. He's got some of the longest arms you'll ever see, which are even more disruptive given his quickness and foot speed. 

Tavares is averaging 1.5 blocks and 6.2 rebounds in just 19.8 minutes a game this season, per

Offensively, though he's pretty much limited to catch-and-finishes, he's shooting 58.2 percent from the floor. Only six times all season did he miss more than two shots in a game.

He's one of the older international prospects in the field, but given his eye-opening size and mobility, along with his recent production overseas, Tavares should be locked in as a strong second-round candidate. 


Fourth-Quarter Thoughts

  • The NBA combine will be held in Chicago starting on Wednesday, May 14, and a number of prospects will have the chance to move the needle on their stock. For some, this will be the first time playing live in front of NBA general managers, even if it's just drills, three-on-threes and athletic testing. At the NBA combine, the eye test can play a role. Just ask Tony Snell and Steven Adams. 
  • The Utah Jazz held a pre-combine workout on Wednesday, May 7, for North Dakota State's Taylor Braun, Providence's Bryce Cotton, Virginia's Akil Mitchell, Oregon's Mike Moser and a few other guys who will just be hoping to hear their names called on June 26. "Not only are we looking at guys for this year’s draft, but you’re able to get a lot of information and a get a feel for players if you’re looking at them down the road in terms of trades, picking them up for [10-day contracts], whatever," said Jazz vice president Walt Perrin via Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune


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