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Here are the NBA Draft's 3 biggest sleepers

Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes are legitimate NBA players and they probably won't get picked until the end of the first round, if not later. Here's why teams should select them sooner.


There are legitimate role players up and down the entire first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, which speaks to the strength and depth of this year's crop of prospects. But I keep coming back to three guys in particular: Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes.

These players are consistently too low on draft boards. Several different mock drafts don't even have Adams or Stokes going in the first round, for example. But I feel confident that they'll outperform their draft position. Here's why teams should think about drafting them higher than they are projected.

Kyle Anderson

Standing 6'9, and with a 7'2.75 wingspan, Anderson can do a little of everything on a basketball floor. He's an excellent rebounder (8.8 per game at UCLA) and passer (6.5 assists per game), but he's also a nifty scorer, averaging nearly 15 points per game with a 56.6 true shooting percentage.

UCLA head coach Steve Alford used Anderson as a primary ball handler, surrounding him with two floor-spacing big men (the Wear Twins) and two guards (Adams and Norman Powell). Anderson, with the ball in his hands, led the Bruins to the 13th best offense in the nation, per KenPom.


He's a very good passer, able to see over smaller defenders and make life easier for his teammates. He's one of the few guys in this draft who has the size to fight on the glass and the skill to make a play in transition.


He's also a good scorer in the post, relying on touch and craft rather than athleticism. Anderson's biggest pitfall his freshman year was his poor long range shooting, but he netted 48 percent from behind the arc last season, albeit aided by a small sample size.

He's also better on defense than his reputation. He registered nearly two steals and a block per game thanks to that massive wingspan. It's tough for smaller opponents to throw post entry passes or shoot over top of Anderson when he extends those arms.

Anderson's issues fall into two categories: he's un-athletic and turnover prone. It's tough for him to cover faster opponents out to the perimeter because he doesn't have the foot speed to stay in front of them.


And it can be difficult for him to create against quicker opponents. His overwhelming size is an advantage in many ways, but it also inevitably means he dribbles the ball higher than most perimeter players.


However, I'm not as concerned about his defense as I am about the defense of another combo forward in this draft that most have going ahead of Anderson; Doug McDermott. Anderson is as slow laterally as McDermott, but he has the size and wingspan to make up for it at either forward spot. He will still be at a disadvantage against quicker and stronger opponents, but it's easier to make up for it with limbs as long as Anderson's. On the other hand, McDermott has very few steals or blocks, demonstrating a lack of athleticism.

Anderson's turnovers are also an issue, but a smaller one. He turned the ball over three times a game, but still registered a higher assist-to-turnover ratio (2.12) than Marcus Smart (1.78), Nik Stauskas (1.76) and Shabazz Napier (1.71).

Any team that chooses Anderson will get a guy with a number of different skills. They'll just have to figure out how to maximize them.

Jordan Adams

Of UCLA's three potential draftees -- Anderson, Adams and Zach LaVine -- Adams is getting the least amount of attention. But it's important to remember that LaVine, a potential lottery pick, only played 24 minutes per game because Adams is a heck of a player who was occupying the same position. Adams isn't nearly the athlete that LaVine is -- not many guys are -- but he's a much more refined scorer and a better defender.

Better yet, he'll be 20 years old for the entirety of his rookie year. We like to think LaVine has a much higher upside because of his raw athleticism, but we forget that Adams is still very young himself and way more developed offensively.

Adams is an efficient scorer from all over the floor, registering the highest field goal percentage of all shooting guards in his class, per Draft Express. He's a streaky-but-competent three-point shooter (35.6 percent), but he excels inside the arc. He never stops moving off the ball and he excels in finding creases in the defense to cut through. Adams has never been an exceptional athlete at any level of basketball and has therefore learned how to score against defenders faster and more athletic than him.


What makes Adams a special and efficient offensive player is his ability to finish inside the restricted area. He's strong enough to absorb contact and finish through it, shooting 66.9 percent at the rim, per Hoop-Math.


He is only an average ball handler, though, which hurts his ability to create in isolation situations. This was part of the benefit of playing alongside Anderson, a guy who could find him off screens and back cuts. In the NBA, he shouldn't be asked to create offense; he should be let loose as instant offense off the ball.


Adams also gambles too much on defense. He'll often reach out of nowhere rather than sitting disciplined in a stance, allowing his man easy access to the paint.


But those gambles often come with rewards. Adams earned 3.5 steals per 40 minutes, the most of anyone in Draft Express' Top 100. He has a great wingspan (6'10), fast hands and good lateral quickness; he just needs to be more disciplined to develop into a good defender. Few players in this draft can score the rock as well as Adams and he has the frame to develop into an above-average defender. That's a guy you can comfortably take in the top 20.

Jarnell Stokes

How many 6'8 guys with a 7'1.75 wingspan can comfortably wear 260-plus pounds of muscle and shoot free throws at nearly 70 percent? The answer is very few, but Stokes is one of them.

The former Tennessee Volunteer is a brick house with massive, strong hands. He uses those hands -- along with his low center of gravity and strong lower body -- to absolutely dominate the glass. Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle and Joel Embiid are all impressive rebounders, but Stokes is the best on the offensive end, grabbing an absurd 15.3 percent of all available offensive boards.

He's extremely strong, aggressive and has a gigantic wingspan. Good luck trying to box this horse out:


That's how Stokes approaches basketball. He improved in scoring, passing and free throw percentage in each of his three seasons at Tennessee, but he still enjoys the dirty work. He will fight for rebounds and hold his ground in the defensive post. He busts his butt on nearly every possession. Watch how hard he runs the floor here:


That all said, Stokes will never be a very good perimeter defender; he's better off fighting a height disadvantage against centers in the post rather than chasing shooting power forwards around the arc.


He will never be a reliable low post scorer; that's just not his game.


Stokes shouldn't be asked to score one-on-one in on the block, and that's totally OK. He will get most of his offense from the offensive glass, where he thrives. If you're looking at him at the end of the first round, you should understand that you aren't getting a reliable threat on the block; you're getting a big, strong workhorse with an NBA body who absolutely murders the glass.

He will set huge screens, fight for every rebound, bully his way on the offensive glass and find a niche in the NBA. He will likely never be a full time starter, but guys with Stokes' size, length and aggressiveness are almost always needed in an NBA team's rotation.