Here are four other top sleeper nominees:
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, junior, guard
CDR has evolved into one of the great mysteries in this draft. Scouts seem to be searching for a way to keep him out of the first round. That’s really shocking considering his production as a college player and his tremendous length. Douglas-Roberts benefited from playing with Rose this past year because it took pressure off him as a scorer. Surrounded by more great players, he should continue to develop and thrive. He has great instincts, handles the ball well and breaks down defenses with his dribble. His long-range shooting could use some work, but he will get the job done around the rim and can finish with authority on the fastbreak. His defensive skills make him attractive as well. If CDR is still around late in the first round, one lucky team should come away with a player possessing the promise of long-term productivity.
JaVale McGee, Nevada, sophomore, forward
His mother has nicknamed him the “The Big Secret” and that’s enough reason to put McGee on any list of top sleepers. The team that is truly sold on his potential is going to take a chance on McGee late in the first round. That might be the Wizards at No. 18 or it could be the Jazz at No. 23. He has struggled a bit in workouts but teams are always looking for size and upside. McGee, 20, averaged 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds last season at Nevada. Those numbers aren’t the attraction. It’s McGee’s 7-6 1/2 wing span and his rare speed for a 7-footer that has some people mentioning him as a potential lottery pick. “People underestimate me, but when they see what I have to offer, they’re amazed,” McGee told USA Today. It may take longer than a year, but eventually you’ve got to believe McGee will be doing amazing things in the NBA.
Brandon Rush, Kansas, junior, guard
Last year at this time, Rush was coming off ACL surgery and totally bummed about returning to college after withdrawing his name from the draft. His professional future was in doubt. Turns out it was the best thing that ever happened to Rush. He mended faster than expected, came back with a new attitude, played his best basketball in the NCAA Tournament and showed his true colors as he helped the Jayhawks win the national championship. Rush reportedly has graded well in workouts. He has been invited to sit in the green room on draft night and that means he might sneak into the lottery. More than likely, he will be taken in the middle of the first round, perhaps as high as No. 15 by Phoenix. After so much criticism for his unselfish play, Rush finally became more aggressive at the end of his junior season. He showed more confidence in his jump shot, but he still excels when he takes the ball to the hole. He can pass and he can defend. He can play the 2 and the 3. His ball-handling skills remain shaky but Rush is a player who should have a long and consistent pro career, if he remains healthy.
Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State, junior, guard
Most people expected Gordon to withdraw his name after testing the waters but he has given up his chance to return to Starkville for his senior season. Gordon will find out Thursday night if he made the right decision. Gordon is generally projected as a second-round pick with a remote shot of sneaking into the bottom of the first round. Either way, he is so strong and so athletic that he could make this work. Gordon recently described himself as a combination of Chauncey Billups and Baron Davis. Those are big shoes to fill, but the NBA scouts love guys that project out as a combination guard. Gordon will have to improve his jump shot and his playmaking skills to live up to that label, but that’s the tease. “I know I’ll work hard and get a roster spot,” Gordon told the Biloxi Sun Herald after a workout with the Charlotte Bobcats. “I think I’ll be all right. My workouts went good.” Gordon has been prone to turnovers, which hurts his chances of becoming a point guard. But at 6-4, he is undersized for the shooting guard position. Teams will have to weigh those factors against his athleticism, his toughness, his ability to rebound and his defensive skills.
PBT: The Spurs saw the NBA title slip through their fingers Tuesday night. Do they have it in them to rebound from their meltdown in time for Game 7?
Not every No. 1 pick is an easy one. See which teams wish they could turn back the clock and which surprising players were (and weren't) taken first.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Spurs fall in Game 6
The Spurs didn't have enough to hold the Heat in Game 6. The Spurs were outscored by Miami 38-25 in the 4th Quarter and OT.
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