2014 NBA Draft: Stars Who Will Be Biggest Steals Near End of 1st Round

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2014

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 29:  Mitch McGary #4 of the Michigan Wolverines runs down the court in his first home game of the season during the second half of the game against Coppin State Eagles at Crisler Center on November 29, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan Defeated Coppin State 87-45. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

This year's stacked group of incoming rookies extends beyond the cream of the crop. Most are focusing on Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum and Andrew Wiggins heading into the 2014 NBA draft. As a result, a few talented prospects are getting overlooked.

When you have so much talent in one draft, players that might be a No. 1 pick in some years slip out of the top five. Top-five prospects slip out of the top 10. Top-10 prospects slip out of the lottery. Think about where Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh or even Gary Harris would've gone in last year's draft.

Ending up with a pick around the 20s is sometimes a disappointment when it comes to finding a useful piece for your team, but in this year's draft, plenty of value is to be had.

The three players below should join their new teams and immediately play a role.


C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington

C.J. Wilcox is a bit of a one-trick pony, but he happens to do that one trick extremely well. Few shooters in this draft are better than the marksman from Washington. That isn't lost on the player himself, per the Phoenix Suns' Twitter account:

At NBA draft workouts in Los Angeles back in May, Wilcox caught the eye of ESPN's Chad Ford, who commented that the Huskies star might not last into the second round (ESPN Insider subscription required):

Wilcox was also impressive shooting the ball. He was one of the best shooters at the NBA draft combine and showed why again in both drills and in the 3-on-3 games. He has a quick release, deep range and you can't leave him open.

He also was the only one on the floor who could (sort of) slow down Elfrid Payton. Wilcox moves well without the ball, is a very good athlete and just plays smart basketball.

If anything, three-point shooters are becoming more valuable with the way that teams are spacing the floor. Wilcox will have a role to play immediately, and you can't ask more out of a late first-rounder.


Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut

Boiling down Shabazz Napier's collegiate career to six games would be an ill-advised tactic. Playing well in the NCAA tournament is nice and all, but it's not a good idea to place a ton of weight on it.

For instance, if you thought Napier was a bad pro prospect before the tournament, then your opinion should stay that way. Connecticut could've very easily lost in the second round to St. Joseph's, after all.

The thing with Napier is that you know exactly what you're getting. The player he is now will most likely be the player he's gonna be.

That's not meant to be a knock at all. There's a ton of value in drafting a player who you believe will join your rotation and perform. Napier is one of those players. He'd be a perfect fit for a team like the Miami Heat that needs a point guard and has the pieces elsewhere to win now.


P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina

Grantland's Mark Titus did a good job of breaking down some of P.J. Hairston's best aspects:

He’s also one of the few perimeter players in this year’s draft who appears to be completely mature physically. He’s a little over 6-foot-5, weighs 230 pounds, and his body fat is just 8.2 percent. That frame, along with his shooting ability, makes him really tough to guard. Defenders have to respect his range, but if they guard him too close he can muscle his way past them and finish at the rim.

Hairston can be infuriating with his shot selection, and there was his ignominious departure from North Carolina last year.

Still, the former North Carolina star shows a lot of promise. He has some of the best range in the draft next to Wilcox, so he can be a three-point specialist at the very least. As long as his next head coach can rein in his natural instinct to spot up from anywhere inside 25 feet, Hairston shouldn't become so inefficient that his great shooting ability would be negated.


Mitch McGary, PF/C, Michigan

Mitch McGary is a prime example of why you don't judge a player's draft stock off an NCAA tournament. Now that everybody's had time to judge McGary's abilities, he's gone from a lottery pick to a possible second-rounder.

The Michigan star is a very impressive rebounder who can also protect the rim. Although McGary's post game is a bit undeveloped, he can knock down mid-range jumpers. He also has good hands and can pass out of the post.

McGary is an athletic big man who can run the floor, and that's bound to get him a look in the first round.