2014 NBA Draft: Predicting Which Prospects Will Slide in Brooklyn

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2014

2014 NBA Draft: Predicting Which Prospects Will Slide in Brooklyn

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    A lifelong dream will come true for every prospect selected in the 2014 NBA draft, but some will wait longer than expected to hear their names called.

    Players slide down the draft board for various reasons, and this year's crop presents a few scenarios where talented candidates could fall past projected landing spots.

    Upside risk could prevent a couple of forwards from earning early selections, while one stud with top-five pedigree might slip past No. 10.

    Meanwhile, a big-name point guard could tumble into the late-first round.

    Which prospects are in for a draft-day slide?

Julius Randle, Kentucky PF (6'9" Freshman)

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Potential slide: Late lottery (Nos. 10-14).

    Why pass on him? Style.

    Julius Randle's bruising style was highly effective at Kentucky, but he'll need more than that to thrive at the NBA level.

    The top tier of the 2014 crop is loaded with length, explosiveness and skill versatility. Compared to some of his early-to-mid lottery competitors, Randle doesn't have an optimal combination of those traits.

    Rex Chapman received some explanations from concerned NBA scouts and executives (via Drew Pasaporte of Nation of Blue):

    These guys believe that the league will ultimately draft the ferocious-rebounding Randle anywhere from 4th to 9th...I found it interesting however, that ONLY 3 of these 14 NBA people say that they themselves would draft Randle in that 4-9 range. A majority of these guys like JR in the 10-14 range. What they’re saying about JR:

    "While he’s a terrific rebounder, his defensive issues are frightening. Worst defensive big-man in the draft."

    "How many times can a guy catch the ball at the top of the key, drive into 3-defenders and give it to the other team?"

    "I question his feel for the game and basketball IQ."

    Even after Randle's strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine, Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears envisions a scenario where he falls to the Denver Nuggets at No. 11.

    If the Boston Celtics (No. 6 pick) and the Los Angeles Lakers (No. 7 pick) decide to go with longer players or two-way threats, it's very possible that Spears' scenario comes true.

     

Jerami Grant, Syracuse F (6'8" Sophomore)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Potential slide: Early second round.

    Why pass on him? 'Tweener.

    At the college level, Jerami Grant overwhelmed opponents with his length and explosiveness as he finished all sorts of plays around the bucket on both ends of the floor. His ability to play above the competition while attacking or protecting the rim launched his stock into the mid-first round.

    However, as scouts have taken a harder look at his weak skill set, his value has waned a bit. There's a chance he could continue to lose favor among executives as a less-attractive option at the 3 spot compared to other top forwards.

    "He doesn't have a set position at the NBA level and he doesn't have much of an outside shot," said Zach Harper of CBS Sports.

    Despite his 7'2.75" wingspan, Jerami Grant isn't tall enough (6'7.75" with shoes on) or strong enough to make a living at the post in the NBA. And unfortunately, he's nowhere close to splashing triples or breaking down opponents off the dribble as a legitimate wing. He's a classically problematic 'tweener.

    On draft night, general managers could be hesitant to take a project like him with a first-round pick, considering there's no guarantee he'll access his upside.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of known quantities available who will provide definitive roles.

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State F (6'8" Senior)

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    Stephen Haas/Associated Press

    Potential slide: Second round.

    Why pass on him? Lack of upside.

    Draft projections for Wichita State's Cleanthony Early are all over the first round and even range into the second. There's a good chance his fate could end up edging toward the latter June 26th.

    He's already 23 years old, which means there may not be much room for improvement; his current skill set and offensive game is pretty close to what he'll offer in his NBA prime.

    That's not a terrible thing, because he's a capable shooter and big enough to play the small forward position. But from a creativity standpoint, NBA decision-makers might look for more upside in the first round.

    Draft Express video analyst Mike Schmitz noted that Early "lacks ball-handling and perimeter skills to create from the wing" and explained that he can't consistently use his left. When you watch Early, it's clear he's not the speediest, shiftiest wing, and he won't be the most agile swingman at the next level.

    For front offices, his less-than-dynamic offensive firepower and relatively low ceiling may not be worth a high pick.

    Early's 31-point game may have buoyed his perceived value into the mid-to-late first round back in March, but his age and the depth of the field may cause a slide down into the second.

Clint Capela, Elan Chalon PF (6'11", LNB Pro A)

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Potential slide: Nos. 25-30.

    Why pass on him? Risk.

    Swiss power forward Clint Capela is a physical marvel, but he's also one of the riskiest prospects in the draft.

    His 7'4.5" wingspan and leaping ability ensures that he won't free-fall to the mid-second round. However, those physical tools may not be enough to get him drafted in the 'teens.

    Capela's skills are in the early stages of development, and game film shows less-than-sharp awareness and effort on countless possessions.

    A failure to fully develop and maximize his athleticism would make him a Kenneth Faried-esque player without the "Manimal" strength and alertness, hence the riskiness involved in taking him early.

    Many current mock drafts have him landing from 14th (via CBS Sports) to 20th (via Yahoo Sports), but draft-day hesitancy may send him toward the tail end of the first round.

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse PG (6'2" Freshman)

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Potential slide: Mid-20s.

    Why pass on him? Lack of positional need.

    Through no real fault of his own, Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis may tumble down the board on draft night.

    Ennis is doing all the right things in predraft drills and scrimmages, but he may hear his name called fairly late because no team desperately needs him. Ennis is viewed as a rock-solid backup or a spot starter, and there's simply no shortage of those among the teams picking 10th through 24th.

    As SB Nation's Jonathan Tjarks explains via The Pattern of Basketball blog, "Ennis is a guy who could fall on draft night, not because of his game but because of the way the draft board shakes out."

    Chicago may be the most likely to snag him as an insurance policy with one of their picks (No. 16 or 19), but if they trade or go in a different direction, he could fall as far as Houston at No. 25.

    The rest of the teams in between have better things to do than add to their depth chart at point guard.

    As a Syracuse native, I appreciate Ennis' poise, smooth ball-handling skills and quarterback instincts. But the reality is that he may never be more than a productive reserve, and it's tough to imagine a reserve landing in the lottery.

     

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