If you thought Joel Embiid was going to slip on draft night, then just wait until you see where the following players get taken in the 2014 NBA draft.
Seeing players fall on draft night is nothing knew. Players fall every year. It usually happens because one team reaches and the player just gets lost in the shuffle. Sometimes other factors are at hand, like the player's age or lack of ceiling.
The following three players will see their names fall down draft boards on Thursday night. For a variety of reasons, they'll slide much further than initially anticipated.
Jerami Grant has a few things going for him. He is an elite athlete and a very strong rebounder/defender. Those skills make him valuable to NBA teams.
Here's what he doesn't have going for him: offense.
Grant is not a good player on the offensive side of the ball. His athleticism masks his inefficiencies on that end, as he's able to get to the basket and finish at the rim. He's not a good shooter, though, and his mechanics need a ton of work.
At 6'8", he likely won't have much of a career at power forward. He's a tweener type, but not one that can shoot from range. In two seasons, he shot just 20 times from deep and made six.
Today's small forward usually defends on the wing and shoots the basketball well from range. Grant only fits half of that model.
Coming out of Syracuse, Grant was a guy many considered for the late portion of the lottery. Now, he might not even go in Round 1. Teams are simply too afraid of his lack of offense. He might not ever develop a solid set of skills with the ball.
That's not to say he isn't valuable. Teams crave players who can bump bodies and rebound or defend, and those are things he does quite well. His athleticism also helps him block shots and run the floor, so going coast to coast is an easy way for him to pick up buckets.
I think he'll go early in Round 2.
What you see is what you get with Adreian Payne. In this case, that's unfortunately a bad thing.
The Michigan State product is 23 years old. His maturation is over. He stands 6'10" and weighs 245 pounds. That's a good size for an NBA power forward, allowing him to bump bodies and move out on the perimeter to shoot.
Teams might be skeptical to take a 23-year-old, however. Why take a 23-year-old with virtually no upside when you can take a 19-year-old prospect with a very high ceiling? This is the question teams will be asking themselves in the hours leading up to the draft.
Now, there are certainly good fits for Payne in Round 1. The Atlanta Hawks could use someone to back up Paul Millsap and Al Horford, and the Minnesota Timberwolves could be in need of someone to replace Kevin Love if he's moved.
The Wolves pick at No. 13, and the Hawks will take the podium at No. 15. Payne won't go at either pick. He has also worked out with the Chicago Bulls, but I just don't see that happening:
There are simply too many high-upside guys in that range. Rodney Hood, Zach LaVine, Jusuf Nurkic and others will certainly be available at that point in the draft. While not power forwards, the Wolves and Hawks can always wait until later on to address that need.
Payne will be a good rotational player in the NBA but nothing more. He likely only has about a 10-year window to play in the pros given his age, and that's not attractive to teams either.
I see Payne going late in Round 1, as opposed to the lottery like many predicted.
Another tweener forward, Cleanthony Early is not equipped to defend NBA power forwards. He's more likely to see time at small forward. Thought to be an impediment to his draft stock at one point, that's no longer the main concern.
Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago broke down what teams are seeing as Early's weaknesses:
While Early should be given credit for being aware of his limitations on the floor, it’s clear that he isn’t much of a creator off the dribble, meaning that as a perimeter player on the next level, he will need to rely on set plays and the playmaking ability of his teammates to score in half-court situations. His ball skills in general are somewhat of an issue, as he isn’t much of a passer and is a somewhat one-dimensional player offensively. Due to his somewhat rare background for a first-round prospect, which included an apparent anonymous stint at prep school following high school, Early is regarded as having more upside than usual for his advanced age, but his ceiling is still lower than many of his younger counterparts.
A player like Early has potential because he is a good shooter who moves well off the ball. The fact that he's 23 isn't as worrisome as it is for Payne, as Anthony plays a less physical position and has a higher ceiling.
Teams that pick late in Round 1 like the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs might opt to give him a look because of their depth, but I don't think he's a first-round talent.
Teams early in Round 2 will have their shot at Early instead. Look for the Dallas Mavericks at No. 34 and the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 36 to take a shot on him.
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