Blog Entry

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Posted on: June 18, 2011 2:22 am
Edited on: June 18, 2011 10:00 pm
A look at five potential sleepers in the 2011 NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver. jeremy-tyler

Ask any NBA GM and they will tell you that draftology is an "inexact science." Put more simply: "Hey, we mess up a lot." We've all seen enough draft failures over the years to have developed a spider sense for how guys slip through the cracks.

Some of the most common reasons: a player takes a nontraditional route to the league, a player stays in college too long and scouts nitpick him to death, a player appears not to have a clear position, a player excels at a small school but scouts doubt that his skills will translate, or a late-blooming international player doesn't appear on the radar until too soon before draft night.   

As has been written about extensively virtually everywhere, this year's draft class is not a traditional class. The top end talent is very thin, the international contingent is fairly deep but filled with questions, there's not a quality American-born center projected to go in the first round and there are really only three point guards expected to turn into potential franchise-type players.

Even with the impact positions so weak and the star caliber talent so thin, there are some quality players that will likely be selected later -- perhaps much later -- than they should be.

Here's a look at five names, all of whom fit into one of the common categories of how guys that get overlooked that were mentioned above. The players listed below might not be falling like rocks past where they should be picked, but each deserves better than what he's seeing on mock drafts in the week leading up to Thursday's draft.

1. Jeremy Tyler

How often can we legitimately call one of the nation's top five prospects coming out of high school a sleeper? Not very often, but Tyler (pictured) is obviously not your typical top prospect. He redefined what "nontraditional route to the NBA" means when he left high school early to pursue a professional career in Israel and Japan. There's no question that his decision -- and the negative headlines that emerged during his professional career -- killed his draft stock in a major way. 

Watching Tyler play in a pre-draft workout, as I did this week, one can only leave with the conclusion that he is a top-15 caliber player, if not better. He's very big, very strong, and blessed with good coordination and a solid feel around the basket. His reputation has him going late in the first round in most mock drafts and it's certainly possible that he could slip to the second round on draft night.

More than one evaluator called Tyler a "tempting" risk this week. Someone needs to go ahead and take the plunge. 

2. Andrew Goudelock

Goudelock is almost the prototypical small-school diamond in the rough. College of Charleston isn't exactly Kentucky or North Carolina, but scoring is scoring and Goudelock has shown the ability to fill it up. He averaged more than 23 points a game this season and drew nice reviews for his ability to shoot the rock at the Portsmouth Invitational. He's projected as a second round pick and gets knocked for his tweener size because he's listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds while doing more scoring (18.9 shots per game) than passing (4.2 assists) at the collegiate level. 

Remember: scoring off the bench is one of those must-have roles for contenders, and perfect positional size and fit simply aren't all that important in this niche. Ask J.J. Barea. Ask the Chicago Bulls, who would have sacrificed Carlos Boozer for anyone at any height and weight who could have scored consistently off their bench against the Miami Heat.

There are other players in this draft that fit this bill -- Josh Selby comes to mind -- but Goudelock is likely to dive fairly deep because of his lack of name recognition. Whoever plucks him out of the second round stands to be rewarded nicely.

3. Kyle Singler

You don't need a crystal ball to see Kyle Singler's future. He will be a solid rotation player on a perennial playoff contender, stepping in off the bench to play either forward position. He will make smart plays, go hard on both ends of the court, constantly have television announcers say he's playing over his head, and will knock down the open shot.

One of the best competitors in this draft, Singler gets overlooked this year for two obvious reasons: he stayed at Duke for longer than he probably should have and isn't an elite athlete. Earlier in his career, Singler had lottery buzz; he now expects to go in the mid-to-late first round and, if things don't break right, he could even find himself landing in the early second. There are certain to be multiple flameouts selected before him.

In a draft with a shallow star pool, why not take a solid, low-risk player who is wholly devoted to playing the game the right way? 

4. Jordan Hamilton

Hamilton's path to the NBA wasn't as rocky as Tyler's, but it wasn't pretty either.

He was forced to sit out his senior year of high school because of eligibility issues after working to get ranked in the top 10 nationally. He then spent two years at Texas, averaging 18.6 points in his sophomore year after not making the impact that was expected in his first season. A classic wing scorer with good size, Hamilton showed he could carry the load on offense at the college level and should be able to be a nice complementary scorer in the pro game.

Aside from his red-flag route to the NBA, Hamilton also has a ways to go on defense. Nevertheless, this was a highly-touted scorer who was able to find his groove despite a layoff from basketball and and adjustment period on a deep college team. Projecting five years down the road, it's difficult to imagine Hamilton inot filling it up for someone and creating highlights along the way.  His stock has bounced around the second half of the draft a bit. On talent, he should be go in the mid-first, if not earlier. If he slips much past that, he's a full blown sleeper by this year's definition. 

5. Bismack Biyombo 

Sure, we don't often consider projected lottery picks to be sleepers. Biyombo is exceptional in so many other ways, though, that we should make another exception here.

If Biyombo had a longer resume or had handled his pre-draft run-up better, he is a player who should be talked about as a top five selection. Biyombo is arguably the best defensive prospect in the draft. His combination of absurd length, ability to contest shots intelligently, his ability to play one-on-one in the post and roam as an active help side defender, and his ferocious desire for cleaning the glass make him elite on that end of the floor. With that package, who cares about his out of nowhere backstory (raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, limited professional career in Spain).

Unfortunately, he's now working to prevent a draft day slide after tanking a workout in Europe and laying low for almost the entire pre-draft process. Biyombo is now projected outside of the top 10 and potentially outside of the lottery, which would be borderline criminal given his upside and physical tools.

There's no question that it will take guts to draft him given the red flags about his age (he could be much older than he says he is) and his meteoric rise to the first round following the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit. But this is a player about whom people will almost certainly look back in five years and say, "how in the heck did they pass on that guy in that draft?"


Since: May 21, 2009
Posted on: June 28, 2011 5:06 am

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Danilo Gallinari; You really consider him a draft bust? He was the key player in getting Anthony to N.Y.! In my mind, that surely says something about how NBA scouts feel about Gallinari.

Since: Apr 22, 2011
Posted on: June 22, 2011 4:02 pm

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

*Starr Powered* - Cavaliers considering all options with 4th pick:



Since: May 11, 2011
Posted on: June 22, 2011 1:39 pm

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Laettner went 3rd overall and there was no one taken behind him that turned out better except maybe Latrell Sprewell. That's debateable and at the time Sprewell was not even the best prospect on his college team.

Since: May 11, 2011
Posted on: June 22, 2011 1:31 pm

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers


Totally agree about Darius Morris. I could see him turning out to be the best player in this draft-hoping the Rox take him at 23.

Since: Feb 23, 2008
Posted on: June 22, 2011 12:52 pm

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

13 yrs in the NBA I wouldn't say Christian was a bust. Was on ALL-ROOKIE team, and all-star reserve. over 13pts per game for his career till he was injured.

Since: Jun 3, 2008
Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:39 am

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Laettner was all world coming out of college, but was an absolute draft bust never really finding a home in the NBA... but he went #2 overall!
Singler isn't going before #15 at best, and most likely 20 - 25.

Since: Apr 30, 2008
Posted on: June 22, 2011 6:38 am

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

ot;, "scrappy", and "hustling".  These are well-known words from the Official Sportswriter's Cliche Book, and are absolutely "whites only".  White writers reserve them for usually undersized (in baseball and football), generally undertalented white guys who really don't do anything well, but who get along well with the media, are a decent interview, and who have a good week or two every three years (in baseball) which they parlay into two-year contracts given out by white owners and GMs.  That's not to say that they are bad players, only not generally good.  In basketball, there are so many incredibly athletic guys, usually black, that it is assumed that a white guy is not athletic until proven otherwise.  I say all this as a middle-aged white guy who's seen this for a long time." unquote.

 @ biglebowski1128, Wow this thread makes about as much sense as a three foot player entering the slam dunk contest. What in the world are you talking about?  What in the world does the above quote mean? It makes no sense at all.

 Yes Black players dominate the bulk of the NBA talent but, you (and a lot of others ) talk as if there has never been talented white players. Remember when the bulk of the talent used to be white? For good reason too, because the white players were great. As good as the black players were if not better.

 Yes it was different times and, blacks did not have the opportunity then that they do now i grant you that. Still the white players of the time were just as talented as any black players of the time. The gene pool has been diluted since those days mostly because of lack of effort on the part of white players.

 Don't get me wrong i am certainly not trying to make this a racist thing here, i detest racism to the core. All i am trying to say is everyone must have very short memories because there are and, always has been great white players and they have not been shown favoritism by no means. They earned their place on teams and in history just as black players have. Maybe i have missed something in this thread since i have been just skimming through it. I hope so because i have been reading some ridiculous threads  since i have been in here.

Well anyway i came in here to say that any team that passes up  Andrew Goudelock is crazy. I have seen this kid play more than a few times and he is the real deal. Yes while the College of Charleston is not a big school the Cougars have had some very talented teams in the past, this year was no exception. Goudelock scored 23 points a game against college zone defenses. In the  wide open NBA game, mostly one on one situations this kid will be a big time NBA scoring machine, you can take that to the bank. Who ever picks him up will be very glad they did. Watch out for Goudelock, he will be a pleasure to see play.


Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: June 22, 2011 12:59 am

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

i can promise everyone here darius morris will be a top sleeper if he goes to an uptempo system. if the knicks or suns could get back up late in the first he will be a monster steal. hes one of the best pure pg in this draft with great size. if he stayed at michigan he would have rose up like jamal crawford did and michigan would probably win the big ten. he would have dominated at point for them.its sad he left cause he would have really moved into a top player discussion and michigan would legitmatly have a top team as they have all the pieces for beiliens system to take off especially with morris dominating off the dribble and kicking out. sad he left. i think dallas as one mock shows him is perfect. kidd would be the perfect mentor and hed play right away. also scotty hopson will be a steal i promise. and derrick williams is the best player hands down. the cavs are foolish for passing on him. they could get a pg at four or later on and add a real stud. plus they still have baron temporarily. huge mistake. williams and knight would be a coup.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:42 pm

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Just as many american players bust as Euro players. Percentage wise probably more.  Nowitski, Parker, Ginobelli, etc. And Ibaka isnt a bust. Thats idiotic. Neither really, to my mind, is Miliicic.  He just didnt deserve to go number two.  This year the Vesely and Kanters are going to be terrific NBA players. So is Kemba and JImmer I think, and Knight and Irving.  Im not big on Williams, as he cant guard threes and he is going to have to.  Biyambo I wouldnt touch and I wouldnt touch Selby or the morris twins (if your teamates dont like you at Kansas, there is a problem).  Its a deep second round....lots of role players and sleepers. McCamey, Liggens, Reggie Jackson, Jenkins, Goudelock, et al. Just few if any franchise players this year.

Since: Jul 14, 2010
Posted on: June 20, 2011 12:11 pm

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers



Laettner - career averages of 13.3 points per game, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.

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