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NBA Draft 2014: Breaking Down Top Under-the-Radar Players

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NBA Draft 2014: Breaking Down Top Under-the-Radar Players
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Stop me if you've heard of top 2014 NBA draft prospects Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid.

Oh? You have?

By now, you've certainly heard all about the next crop of great NBA talents. Presumably, Wiggins, Parker and Embiid will be the top three picks in the draft (not necessarily in that order) because of their NBA-ready skills and performances in college.

There are several other prospects who don't receive that much attention, though, and there are three in particular who receive little recognition and could turn into future stars in the Association.

 

Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette

A true point guard, Elfrid Payton does everything you like to see from your floor general. He is a dynamic athlete who is nearly impossible to stop in the open floor. On top of that, Payton is lightning-fast with the ball when he decides to make his cuts and crash the lane.

The knock on Payton is that he played in the Sun Belt conference for Louisiana-Lafayette last season. He didn't perform well against major competition—6-of-19 against Baylor and 3-of-11 against Louisville—and that's something that could potentially scare some teams away in the first round.

That said, there are also plenty of NBA higher-ups who like what they see from Payton. Jeremy Woo of SI.com highlighted their opinions:

NBA types are enthusiastic about Payton's 6-foot-4 frame, smothering on-ball defense and instinctive slashing into the paint. Though his jump shot still needs work, it seems clear he has a home at the next level. He averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals as a junior, and his numerous postseason honors included the Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year award. At 20 years old, he was an entire year young for a college junior.

A young kid who can play defense and score at the next level is invaluable. His immediate impact alone makes him worthy of a pick in Round 1, but his future production might make teams in the lottery wish they had taken a chance on him earlier.

 

Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA

Jordan Adams is a guy who plays relentlessly on both ends of the floor. He's capable of playing solid defense and stripping an offensive player of the ball and then knocking down a jumper on the other end in transition. He plays coast to coast, and NBA head coaches should want that type of player on their respective rosters.

At 6'5" and 210 pounds, Adams is a big body who is capable of taking contact down low. He's a guard who can score from pretty much anywhere, though he thrives on jumpers.

Arizona head coach Scott Miller was certainly impressed with Adams after he posted 19 points, four rebounds and four assists against the Wildcats in the Pac-12 tournament title game, via Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports:

Luckily, Miller will probably never have to face him again. Adams will be headed into the NBA, where he will make an impact right from day one.

 

Terran Petteway, SG/SF, Nebraska

After leading the Big Ten with 18.1 points per game, Terran Petteway should be getting far more attention than he has thus far. The 6'6" guard/forward is explosive with the ball in his hands and is capable of scoring in bunches.

When should Petteway be taken?

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Petteway is very quick off the dribble, allowing him to both drive past defenders and create enough space for him to unleash a jumper—something he can do from almost anywhere on the court. Sometimes that can be an issue, though, as his shot selection is a little questionable from time to time.

But maybe that's because his best running mate at Nebraska was Shavon Shields. Shields isn't a bad player, but Petteway is the far better scoring option. There's plenty of reason to believe his shot selection will improve at the next level.

Petteway is a guy who could potentially go early in Round 2, but teams picking at the end of Round 1 should really give him a look. The guy is an offensive talent, and the team that gets him in Round 2 will be getting a steal.

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