NBA Draft 2014: Under-the-Radar Players with the Biggest Upside

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NBA Draft 2014: Under-the-Radar Players with the Biggest Upside
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

With the 2014 NBA draft coming up in a few weeks, we all know Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker will be studs. For those teams without lottery picks, there are still a few hidden gems that have flown under the radar.

 

James Young, Small Forward, Kentucky 

James Young is an 18-year-old that most would consider a "project player." He stands at 6'7", with a 6'11" wingspan, and is a great athlete. Even though his size and athleticism have scouts salivating, he is still far away from being an all-around player.

Along with his athletic ability, he was able to improve his shooting numbers near the end of last season. Most importantly, he shot 43 percent from beyond the arc in the NCAA tournament.

He also showed the ability to play well in big games, scoring 20 points in the NCAA National Championship Game.

With his length, athleticism and improved shooting, he can certainly find success in the NBA.

With the Chicago Bulls badly needing a new offensive weapon, Young could be the answer. If Derrick Rose can stay healthy, this duo could be dangerous.

 

Rodney Hood, Small Forward, Duke

Rodney Hood has gone unnoticed for several reasons. Not only did he play in Jabari Parker's shadow, but Hood also missed a year because he transferred from Mississippi State.

Hood is 21 years old and averaged 16.4 points per game while shooting at 46.4 percent from the field last season. He also shot 42 percent from deep.

His one big downfall is his size.  At 6'8" and only 218 pounds, he has had problems rebounding and playing like a stereotypical small forward. His defense has also been adequate at best.

Even with his lack of size, his offensive ability shows that he has tremendous upside, as shown in the video above.

A good fit for Hood would be the Pheonix Suns, who are known for playing a high-tempo offense.

 

Elfrid Payton, Point Guard, Louisiana-Lafayette

Elfrid Payton is an all-around stud.  This guy is everything a team could want in a point guard. He's got decent size at 6'4", he's an incredible passer and he plays great on-ball defense—not to mention he has lightning-quick speed.

As a junior, he averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He also capped off the season by winning the Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Payton may seem like the perfect player, but he has one glaring downfall. In games against major competition, he has come up short. Most notably, he struggled against Baylor and Louisville, shooting under 35 percent in both games.

Payton has all the talent in the world to be great, but whether he can succeed against the best competition in the world is still unknown.

The Louisiana-Lafayette star is a high-risk/high-reward prospect.

UL-Lafayette head coach Bob Marlin told SI.com's Jeremy Woo that his star point guard is projected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second.

With the New York Knicks in desperate need of a point guard, and Marc Berman of the New York Post reporting that the team is looking to acquire a second-round pick, Payton could be playing in Madison Square Garden this October.

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