Draft picks who could be a steal late in the first round: Elfrid Payton and Jordan Adams

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Based on history, a couple of things are certain out of this draft:

One of the top three guys in the draft is not going to live up to his potential (and likely get a GM fired).

Some guy farther down the draft board will explode in the next couple years and end up being better than we expected, leading a lot of fans to ask “how come our GM passed on…”

Here are a couple of guys you may want to watch for that later category.

Jordan Adams of UCLA is a guy who ESPN Stats guru Kevin Pelton projected as the third best returning prospect in college ball this year (behind Marcus Smart and Gary Harris) — the stats loved him. Scouts were not as sold. But Jordan showed an effortless scoring touch in the NCAA Tournament, then showed up at the NBA Draft Combine 22 pounds below his listed UCLA weight. He was quicker and more importantly he had one of the best outside shooting days at the combine.

He’s a guy in the rise — a potential second round pick who could slide into the late first. He’s a guy our draft expert Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld says he should be climbing the board.

“Now I’m not sure exactly where these (statistical) models rate Adams, but I think people who are considering Adams a 2nd round pick may be underestimating him because he is a versatile scorer who can help teams fairly quickly, while also being a good defender and having some room to grow as a player,” Isaacson told ProBasketballTalk. “There will be concerns with his athleticism, but that’s not his game. He knows how to find holes in the defense and score. He is like T.J. Warren in that manner. Ultimately, Adams is a player who I think will work better in some systems more than others, and he could be a good role player with the right team.”

And help them quickly.

Another guy who could go in the first round and have a lot of fans saying “who?” then loving him by the time Summer League is over is Elfrid Payton. The 6’4” point guard out of Louisiana Lafayette has reportedly looked good going up against Marcus Smart in workouts for teams. Isaacson has him going 17th in our first mock draft, DraftExpress has him going 27th.

How much value is there in that pick?

“I guess it really depends on where you saw his value to begin with,” Isaacson told PBT. “Putting aside Exum, who I’m still not convinced will be an NBA point guard, Payton to me has been the second best point guard prospect in this draft, behind Smart and ahead of Tyler Ennis. I like to think that NBA teams that spent time watching him this year saw the same things I did, and realize that he can be a point guard who will make his teammates better while also being able to score and defend at a high level. Holding his own against Smart in workouts will certainly be a help if he needs to change the minds of people who want to focus on the fact that he played in the Sun Belt conference, but it really should just solidify him as the next best point guard option after Smart. In terms of actual movement on draft boards, I’m not sure if there’s enough he can do to break into the lottery, though I wouldn’t fault a team for taking him in the 12-14 range.”

That may be a little high, and wherever he goes fans may shake their heads. But they will see him play and change their tune fast, he could be a steal.