NBA Draft 2014: Players Who Will Make Surprising Rise into Round 1

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NBA Draft 2014: Players Who Will Make Surprising Rise into Round 1
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Workouts don't guarantee first-round selections in the 2014 NBA draft.

None of the prospects on this list has worked out for a team. But on draft night, they'll hear their names called in Round 1—to the surprise of causal fans who'll react by asking, "Who?"

 

PG Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

21 years old, 6'6", 205 pounds

Junior stats: 14.7 points, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game

Prediction: 28th overall to the Los Angeles Clippers

ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi reported that Darren Collison will opt out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason. Collison averaged 11.4 points and 3.7 assists per game this year. He deserves a huge raise from the $1.9 million he would've made this season had he opted in.

Unless Los Angeles is determined to give him this raise, which is unlikely, it must draft a point guard on Thursday. Collison had too much production to risk not replacing him.

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Enter Dinwiddie. He was a first-round prospect before tearing his ACL in January. And according to ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne, he's received an invite from the Clippers to their facility.

There's a huge need for point guards in the league. And despite the fact that Dinwiddie is rated lower than Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton, Zach LaVine, Tyler Ennis, Shabazz Napier and Jordan Clarkson, all of them will likely be gone by the time Los Angeles is on the clock.

 

SF Damien Inglis, France

19 years old, 6'8", 240 pounds

2013-14 French League stats: 4.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.6 steals per game (in 15.3 minutes)

Prediction: 29th overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City didn't have an answer when the San Antonio Spurs played small with Boris Diaw in Games 5 and 6 of the Western Conference Finals. In those two contests, he recorded 39 points, nine rebounds and five assists. And 15 of those points came off threes.

The Thunder's answer to Diaw and any team that tries to spread the floor against it: Inglis. The French forward's agent originally tweeted that he had withdrawn from the draft but rescinded the announcement later that day, according to DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony:

Inglis has the athleticism to play the 3 in a typical Oklahoma City rotation, and he has the size to play the 4 when it plays small. He's an ideal role player due to top-notch defense and an improving three-point-shooting ability, having shot 38.7 percent from downtown this season.

 

PF Nikola Jokic, Serbia

19 years old, 6'11", 253 pounds

2013-2014 Adriatic League stats: 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game

Prediction: 30th overall to the San Antonio Spurs

Speaking of Diaw, he's a free agent. Even if he re-signs, he's 32 years old andgiven how valuable he was to the Spurs' championship-runmust be replaced eventually with another point forward.

Kyle Anderson would be ideal, but after the Charlotte Hornets' Josh McRoberts opted out of his contract, it created another need for a 4, which will likely prevent Anderson from falling to No. 30. Jokic is a great plan B.

His combination of size and skills couldn't be much rarer. He averaged 0.6 threes and 2.0 assists per game this season, showing off the ability to be a larger version of Diaw.

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

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