Sleeper Picks of the 2015 NBA Draft
*Photo via USA Today
The 2015 NBA Draft is nothing now but a footnote in NBA history and now the NBA Summer League is underway. Were all aware of who the top players are and who’s projected to carry the torch that the last generation of stars will leave behind. but there are players worth mentioning who might not have received the press that they deserve. In this year’s draft, the next agent zero or even the next Paul Millsap was picked late in the first round or even the second. It’s too early to tell who the stars are that missed the lottery but there are a couple of sleepers that are just as good as the players picked in the lottery and here’s a couple of names you should get used to.
1.PG/SG, Joseph Young, 2nd round/Pick: 43rd overall to the Indiana Pacers, College – Oregon
Here lies a guy that just flat out knows how to score. Outside of his freshman year at Houston, Joseph Young averaged 18 points or better, ending his last two collegiate years at Oregon where many accolades followed. Young was awarded the Pac-12 Player of the Year last season, along with First-team All-Pac-12 and Third-team All-American Sporting News honors. And rightfully so. Young averaged 20.7 points per game, 3.8 assists, and 4.4 rebounds, shooting 35 percent from behind the arc. Young is not shy when it comes looking for his own shot and profiles as someone who can come off the bench and contribute right away from either guard spot. Just look at how he manipulated the Orlando Magic’s defense here en route to a 28 point performance in the Summer League:
He has great size at six-foot-two, and has the creativity to make plays on the perimeter as well as penetrating the paint. And unlike most rookies, Young is a four-year guy which usually translates to a respectable NBA career.
2.SG, Rashad Vaughn, 1st round/Pick: 17th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks, College - UNLV
Rashad Vaughn only needed one year with the Running Rebels to know he was ready for the next step in his basketball career. One year after earning McDonald’s All-American honors, Vaughn led a respectable recruiting class at UNLV and did just enough to earn himself a spot in the first round. Vaughn led the Rebels in scoring with 17.8 points per game, in addition to 4.8 rebounds, and shooting 43 percent from the field. Like Young, Vaughn can fill it up and has wasted no time, making his presence known in the Summer League with an 18-point performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers:
Vaughn has great size for a shooting guard at six-foot-six and has the weight (210 pounds) to finish inside, absorbing contact. Whether it’s shooting from behind the arc (38 percent, UNLV) or from mid or near the basket, Vaughn has a scorer’s game that should help the Minnesota native earn respectable minutes on a young Bucks team that’s rising as a franchise under the control of head coach Jason Kidd. Plus, Vaughn is only 18-years old.
3.SF, Kelly Oubre, 1st round/Pick 15 selected by the Atlanta Hawks, traded to the Washington Wizards
One of my favorite players of the draft, Kelly Oubre, Jr. is a smooth operator but from the wing/forward position he can get the job done on both ends. He has great size at six-foot-seven and has an NBA made body (205 pounds) which of course, still has room to grow. Oubre reminds me of Rudy Gay due to his fluidity of how he moves on the court and despite playing on a loaded Kansas team boasting other talented NBA prospects, Oubre shined in moments. Last season, Oubre scored 15 points or better in seven games but none more impressive than his performance against Lafayette. Oubre scored 23 points and displayed the full arsenal, connecting on four of seven three’s penetrating to the basket and scoring in close range and even executing a couple of steals, where one in particular resulted in a breakaway slam. Other than his offensive skill set, Oubre’s potential on the defensive end is what excites the basketball officials, due to his arm length that can get into the passing lanes and intercept. And Oubre has shown, once he’s committed on the defensive side of the ball, he could really be a pest. I think Oubre has All-Star potential but it will take some time. In the meantime, watch Oubre become a consistent perimeter defender for the Wizards off the bench next season.
In his Summer League debut, Oubre showed some of that All-Star potential, producing a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns.
4.PF, Bobby Portis, 1st round/Pick 22nd overall to the Chicago Bulls
As if the Chicago Bulls needed to get any bigger, Bobby Portis will definitely help in that regard. For a power forward, Portis brings a six-foot-11 frame to the Bulls frontcourt that already features Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. And in Portis, the Bulls just got a little better. Portis is an athletic big that can play either spot and has the makings of a scorer. Portis’s range extends to the three, he can also hit from mid-range, can put the ball on the floor and post-up. While he is capable of putting up 20 and 10 numbers like the 23 he scored in his debut against Karl Anthony-Towns and the Timberwolves, Portis is also a bruiser.
He’s not afraid of contact, plays above the rim and at heart, is a blue-collar worker. Portis will do the scrappy work that requires a hard-hat and at the same time light it up offensively. That’s a hard thing to find in a player let alone a big-man. He can always improve, but Portis, right away looks apart. His versatility is his best asset and because of it, the Bulls can mix and play around with lineups especially in the front-court.
5.PF, Kevon Looney, 1st round/Pick 30th overall to the Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are fresh off of winning the NBA title and heading into their first draft following the championship and made a great pick. The rich just keep getting richer and in Kevon Looney, the Warriors have a player made in the Kevin Durant mold. Looney is a six-foot-nine forward that can put the ball on the floor, capable of leading the break and finishing at the other end of the floor without anyone’s help. He’s a big kid and his versatility can lead to stardom. In addition to his guard skills, Looney has a face-up game, can post-up, finish around the rim and connect from outside. In his lone season at UCLA, Looney averaged 11.6 points per game, 9.2 rebounds but shot 48 percent in two-point field goals and 41 percent from three-point range. He’s an all-around player that can do it on both ends and in Golden State, Looney will get the necessary opportunities to distinguish himself as one of the steals in this draft. Just look at what he did in his Summer League debut against the Sacramento Kings.
This list is in no particular order. I believe this list contains one All-Star, starters and serviceable journey-men that will always have a job in the league and now it’s up to them to decide who they will be in the association.