1. Kyle Anderson, PG/SF UCLA
An unorthodox case study if there ever was one… Anderson is expectedly a divisive prospect. He is athletically inhibited and heavy footed, but he finds his comfort areas in spite of those limitations. He uses “slow motion” to his advantage; it’s off-putting for defenders who beat Anderson to anticipated spots that he never arrives to. He plays his own brand of ball, not looking for “style points” and not often rattled. And of course, Anderson is an ultra-creative facilitator at 6’9 with immaculate vision and feel. He’s a matchup nightmare (offensively) and can stuff the box score by accident on any given night. The ultimate question: who will he guard? He’ll have to find ways to utilize his length (7’2 wingspan), to overcome a lack of foot speed. With the success the Spurs have found with Boris Diaw, using him as a match up advantage, a team could find success with Anderson who has a similar skill set and versatility. Anderson is gerally considered a mid to late first rounder, but in the right situation could really become a big contributor at the next level.
2. Glenn Robinson III, SF Michigan
Without question GRIII struggled to live up to expectations as a sophomore, and probably could have used an additional season at Michigan. But GRIII’s game has been overanalyzed to the point of being severly underrated. In both of his seasons at Michigan he struggled due to being overshadowed by superior scorers (Burke and Hardaway Jr. as a freshman and Stauskas as a sophomore). Despite being hyper-talented and supremely efficient, he never stepped outside of his comfort zone in two years at Michigan. However, an organization with eyes for the bigger picture could be thoroughly rewarded here. With room to operate and with the focus of defenses elsewhere, Robinson could thrive as a secondary or tertiary option in the NBA. His stroke is pure and versatile, and he possesses explosive quickness and leaping ability (he had the overall #1 standing vertical at 36.5, and a 41.5 max vert). Now it’s about desire and on-court aggression in taking the next ‘leap forward. Robinson’s upside is far superior to most prospects in his projected (18-25) draft range.
3. Elfrid Payton, PG Louisiana Lafayette
Seen by many as a bubble first rounder even after the tournament, though he’s been featured on the first round of the mock since mid-season, Payton still has some major holes to his game, namely lack of a jumpshot. He’s another unique prospect with a rare skill set that naturally results in love/hate attachment. He’s got the talent to become a top 10 player at his position (PG) in the league some day if everything falls into place, which isn’t something that you can say about about many prospects in this year’s draft. Payton thrived during the quickness and speed testing at the NBA Combine – 2.92 second shuttle and 3.23 second sprint – and his combination of length and quickness at the point is highly intriguing. 6’8 wingspan + great feet and anticipation have resulted in comparisons to his namesake, the “The Glove”, Gary Payton. Payton opened eyes at the U19 World Championships and even Sun Belt competition could not blind the nation from his immense talent. Nevertheless, his jumper and decision making are both works in progress. Risk/reward is a no contest.
4. Jordan Clarkson, PG Missouri
There’s a lot to like about this sizable point guard with an attack mentality. Frank Haith took Missouri off the map in 2013, but Clarkson was a lethal scorer (18.1 PPG) from the word go. He’s an aggressive driver that’s near impossible to contain driving right behind a head of steam. Forcing him left in an absolute must. Additionally, proficiency in the mid-range game has been a staple since his days at Tulsa. It’s quite possible he’s more 2 than 1, but given his physical prowess, Clarkson is not a combo-guard sell candidate. Teams are salivating in bulk over his packaging and gifted scoring repository.
5. Shabazz Napier, PG Connecticut
Yes, Napier is undersized and many of his field goal attempts are of the low percentage variety, but he will not be a collegiate star turned NBA flop. He’s an immensely talented shot maker with undervalued athleticism. Napier jumped a 37.5 max vertical and his acrobatics allow him to finish in the lane with either hand. He uses variety to his advantage as well, with floaters and step backs. Basically he has every shot in the book. Napier is not necessarily a natural team runner, but he makes stellar decisions off the P&R. He possesses a similar on-court mentality to the re-invented version of Chauncey Billups, minus two inches and with a significantly less imposing frame. Drop under a screen and he’ll bury you all night. Can’t teach clutch, and Napier is the epitome.