Two of the Most Underrated Players In the NBA Draft
Photo Credit: Fansided
Players fly under the radar all the time. Last year, it was Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma. The year before that, it was Dejonte Murray and Malcolm Brogdon. Full of mysteries and surprises, we truly have no clue who the 'steals' of the draft will be. However, it can't hurt trying to guess.
DeAnthony Melton, Guard, USC
DeAnthony Melton had everything for the Trojans in the 2016-17 season. Melton really only struggled in one area of his freshman season, and that was his jump shot. Recently, however, Melton and his agent have released videos of his new and improved shot form. At USC, Melton didn't put up monster numbers, only averaging eight points, five rebounds, and four assists. Keep in mind that Melton was the only player in 2017 to average two steals, 1.5 blocks, five assists, and eight rebounds per 40 minutes. He was one of the most versatile pieces for the Trojans.
Melton plays defense with an attitude. His on-ball coverage is great and he can contain players easily. When someone does beat him on the edge, he is able to contest lay-ups by hanging in the air longer than his opponent. A lot of his blocks came as a result of this. Melton as an off-ball defender did a great job clogging passing lanes. As stated earlier he averaged over two assists per 40 minutes. To give you an idea of how dominant Melton was in 2017, let's review his game guarding Lonzo Ball, former UCLA Bruin. Melton had 13 points, 9 rebounds, five assists, and four steals. Melton also didn't have any turnovers. Lonzo Ball had 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and zero steals. Ball also had seven turnovers. USC won the game by eight points. a
Melton wasn't really in the right offensive system for him in his time at USC. It's worth mentioning that the offense wasn't designed around him, rather he was forced to fit in. Specifically, he was playing at the two-guard instead of as the point guard. His vision was not displayed as much as it could've been. Assuming he did play at the one, his assist total would have likely been much higher, as well as his offensive production as a whole.
The one major concern about Melton was his jump shot. And like stated earlier, the videos of him shooting have relieved some of those concerns. All in all, Melton is my 12th ranked prospect and is projected to go somewhere in the late-teens to the early 20s. One team is going to be very lucky.
Malik Newman, Guard, Kansas
Malik Newman is one of the most gifted players in this draft when it comes to shooting. Newman, who transferred from Mississippi State to Kansas after the 2017 season, averaged 14 points, two assists, and five rebounds while shooting 46% from the field and 42% from three. He didn't have a small sample size, either. In fact, Newman shot five threes per game.
Newman also showed up when the lights were brightest. In Kansas's final eight games, which were all tournament games in some capacity, Newman averaged 23 points, two assists, six rebounds and two steals while shooting 53% from the field and 54% from three. For a player expected to be picked in the second round of the NBA Draft, he is one of the most electric players there is.
Newman likely will be a bad defender at the next level, but his offensive and shooting ability alone should allow him to compete for a bench scoring role similar to that of Lou Williams. Newman is a bit undersized but he has shown some ability to score in the lane and rebound defensively.
Newman is currently projected in the 50s to priority UDFA range, which is incredible, again, because of his immaculate shooting ability. If he ever lives up to his ceiling and is able to come off the bench and knock down shots, he will be one of the biggest steals in this draft.