These are the guys that cause general managers the most grief (unless you drafted Kwame Brown No. 1 overall, then your grief is your own making). Five years from now your draft pick may turn out to be a solid role player, but every time someone talks about him they’ll say “but he passed up on X.”
It will happen again this year. Here are the guys you’ll be ripping your GM about in a few years.
James Anderson: There are a ton of perimeter guys who can score in the Association, but not a lot that do it efficiently. Anderson is efficient. He is a guy who can score the rock any way you please — at Oklahoma State pretty much every defense he faced was about stopping him and he still was the biggest force in the Big 12. He scored because he can shoot the spot up, off the dribble and get to rim (and draws fouls well). He is a fantastic athlete. Guy has the package. He can be the spark plug guy off the bench who puts up points starting this season. And if he can get focused on the defensive end he can be a whole lot more than that. –Kurt Helin
Jordan Crawford: Forget the dunked-on-LeBron biz. This kid averaged 29 points per game in three contests in the NCAA tournament, and comes from pure scorer blood. He’s got good athleticism, and all of his faults are things that can be corrected with coaching and development. Crawford is a guy who if you watch him slip by you’re going to ask “How did we not see that kid coming?” –Matt Moore
Paul George: George isn’t your typical sleeper because he’s still due to go in the mid-first round, but to me he’s one of the few prospects outside of Wall-Favors-Cousins with real star potential. Paul has a smoothness to his game that you love to see from small school products, but his statistical résumé isn’t exactly overwhelming. George could settle into a role as a middling player in the pros, but he has the potential to be far, far more. He’s far from capped out, still very young, and has already made huge improvements to his game. How could a team not fall in love with George’s incredible talent? It’s not always easy for NBA small forwards to bust into stardom, but I’m backing Paul to make a decent run at the possibility. –Rob Mahoney
Hassan Whiteside: With his 7’7″ wingspan and freakish athleticism, Whiteside definitely doesn’t lack for talent. And thanks to his 5.5 blocks per game and status as one of the biggest head cases in the draft, Whiteside doesn’t really lack for exposure. But if you define “sleeper” as “player with the best chance to perform better than his draft slot suggests he will,” Whiteside looks like a good potential candidate.
I know the odds against Whiteside making the most of his talent are high. He didn’t go to class, he doesn’t want to be coached, he looked out of place on the court a lot more often than he should have, and he’s way too in love with his jumper for a 58.8% free-throw shooter. All I’m saying is that unless Rita Repulsa is prominently involved, it’s much more likely that Whiteside will change his attitude than a less gifted player will wake up with a 7-7 wingspan. –John Krolik