2014 NBA Draft: Analyzing Sleeper Prospects Most Likely to Climb into 1st Round

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIJune 10, 2014

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 13:  Isaiah Austin #21 of the Baylor Bears reacts after shooting a three-pointer during the Big 12 Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Sprint Center on March 13, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With the 2014 NBA draft fast approaching, countless first-round mocks are popping up all over the web.

Generally speaking, the usual suspects continue to show up within the first 30 selections; however, are there a few prospects with first-round potential who have been omitted?

We already know this is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. Many solid prospects could slide into the second round due to the immense amount of talent. Although, that doesn't eliminate the possibility of some sleeper prospects climbing their way up draft boards.

Let's take a look at a few sleepers who could surprise us all on draft day after being selected late in the first round.


Thanasis Antetokounmpo 

With the upside to possibly resemble his brother Giannis' physical ability, Thanasis Antetokounmpo may be a surprise late-first-round selection this year.

A freakish athlete, he recorded a 39.5" max vertical—the 11th highest in the draft class—at the combine while measuring at 6'6.25" with shoes on and an impressive 7'0" wingspan.

Here's a look at his incredible vertical, courtesy of a tweet from the NBA D-League:

Antetokounmop puts his athleticism to great use. He's exceptionally quick on the fast break and uses his superior size—he's very long for a guard—and momentum to overpower opponents and finish strong at the rim.

Here's a great look at what he's capable of against decent D-League competition:

Rounding out his offensive outlook, Thanasis could use some polishing in terms of downtown shooting and ball control. Spending another season in the D-League could help him in these areas before he's called up to the NBA.

On the flip side, Thanasis is a fantastic defender.

He's aggressive in all areas of the defensive end of the court, which allowed him to become a great shot-blocker and budding rebounder. Again, he could use some development here, but his high upside is clearly on display.

First-Round Fits: Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs


DeAndre Kane

DeAndre Kane is another intriguing guard prospect.

He measured up at 6'4.5" with shoes on and recorded a 6'8" wingspan at the draft combine. He projects as a combo guard given his ability to flourish off the ball or running point.

Kane had great body control when attacking the rim and uses his aggressiveness to finish at the basket—even after being fouled.

Last season at Iowa State, Kane was magnificent at point guard, averaging 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He shot 48.3 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from downtown, proving he can drain buckets from anywhere.

Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough had some high praise for Kane following his workout:

An intelligent player, Kane sees the court well on offense, cutting down on turnovers to just 2.9 per game last season. He also decreased his personal fouls to an average of 2.2 per game.

Kane is extremely experienced and a very well-rounded player; however, with that comes the one big knock against him.

He just turned 25 years of age.

The fact he was playing against such younger competition at the college level could be slightly concerning. Although, his size and skill set should be enough to entice teams to possibly look at him early.

Get to know Kane a bit better here:

Even though he's an older prospect, Kane still has a solid seven years (at least) ahead of him at the NBA level.

First-Round Fits: Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns


Isaiah Austin

Even though Isaiah Austin had a rather disappointing year at Baylor last season—actually, the whole team was rather disappointing—it's easy to think a team would be willing to gamble a bit earlier on the power forward.

Austin comes with great length, measuring 7'0.5" with shoes on, along with a 7'4.5" wingspan, at the draft combine.

The knock on Austin is his power. Weighing just 219.5 pounds, he's liable to get bullied by larger forwards in the NBA. After all, Serge Ibaka has over 25 pounds on him. Although, if Austin were to bulk up, he could be extremely productive at the next level.

He's certainly confident right now, according to a tweet from the Suns:

Like Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love, Austin is a big man with a nice stroke from outside. Even though his numbers from behind the arc dipped to just 27.7 percent last season, we already saw him knock down 33.3 percent of those shots just one year prior.

This isn't to say Austin is the next coming of any of those aforementioned players; however, he does have a comparable skill set.

At just 20 years of age, Austin has plenty of time to bulk up and refine his game. During an interview with Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune, Austin spoke of his mindset entering the NBA:

I think I'm one of the bigs that has the most natural stroke out there. Teams have seen that. It really doesn't affect me at all on the court. I was out there competing. I knew where the ball was, where the man was at all times. It's not a crutch for me.

[Teams] want me to get stronger. But that's going to come with age and time. Once it's my job to wake up every morning and just play basketball and not have to worry about school. I can start dedicated my life to my craft and everything's going to fall into place perfectly.

Talk about a prospect with tremendous upside. If Austin can become slightly more consistent from the outside and add roughly 20 pounds to his frame, he could become a dominant big in the NBA.

First-Round Fits: San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets


All combine measurements and results courtesy of NBA.com.


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