Some say the 2012 NBA draft is one of the deepest ever.
If there’s one thing about a deep draft that everyone loves to talk about, it’s sleepers.
The guys that get overlooked; The players who fall into the teens and twenties that end up performing like lottery picks.
This year’s draft has no shortage of candidates, but some of them might surprise you.
First, there’s a guy from a major team, in a major conference who plays one of the most important positions in basketball… and he’s predicted to fall at least into the mid-teens.
His name is Kendall Marshall, and last year at UNC he played 36 minutes a game. He scored eight points and dished out 9.8 assists per game, turned the ball over less than three times a game and finished the season with a 97 defensive rating (points produced allowed per 100 possessions).
Even though he didn’t score that much, he put the ball in the basket when he wanted to; His true-shooting percentage was 56 last year, and he shot threes at a 35 percent clip.
Marshall might not be the most athletically gifted player in the draft, but he could have the best court vision of any player selected this year.
If he really does fall somewhere between the 14th and 20th picks, Marshall’s selection (or passing on him) could be the difference between a team missing or making the playoffs.
Another guy who could push a borderline playoff team over the edge is Jeffrey Taylor, and he has the potential to turn into a perennial All Star.
Maybe it’s his perceived lack of athleticism, his, at times, indecisive nature, or his passiveness, but a couple “experts” have him falling into the second round (as the editor of FanSided’s Bobcats blog, I’d love that to happen).
But, his draft stock has him going somewhere in the mid-twenties, so he’s definitely a first round sleeper.
Taylor scored 16 points on 49 percent shooting (42 percent three point shooting) and grabbed 5.6 rebounds a game last year.
He can play any position from shooting guard to small forward, and he can guard every position on the floor except for center.
His defensive flexibility alone should be enough for him to go higher than pick twenty, but it’s his underrated offensive game that could have him putting on a show at future All Star games. He can take people off the dribble. He can create space and shoot over almost anyone. He can score with his back to the basket in the post.
For his versatility alone, there’s no way Taylor could be left off this list.
The ultimate sleeper in the 2012 NBA draft, though, has to be Iowa State’s Royce White.
All this guy did was lead his team in every major statistical category from scoring to rebounding to assists.
At 6-8, White was a true point-forward for the Cyclones, and, in the NBA, he could play a similar role.
He scored 13.4 points, grabbed 9.3 rebounds and dished out five assists a game last year. He also hit 33 percent of his three-pointers and finished the season with a 54 percent true-shooting percentage.
The main problem people have with White are his off-the-court issues. He was a little immature in college and has anxiety problems while flying.
Since he’s predicted to go to a good team with a pick in the twenties, his immaturity will be dealt with Also, there are effective ways to help ease his anxiety.
For a player as gifted at as many things as White is, it’ll be hard for him not to turn into one of the better players taken in the 2012 NBA draft.