Every year, there are some good players that fall into the bottom third of the first round and even into the second round. In last years draft, Landry Shamet, Jalen Brunson, and Mitchell Robinson all went after the top 20 picks, and each produced, at worst, like a good rotation player. In 2017, Kyle Kuzma, Derrick White, and Josh Hart were selected with three of the final four first round picks.
This year is no different, as this class is filled with plenty of guys who look like future role players that may or may not be full time starters at some point. This piece will focus on players who are projected to go in the last 10 picks of the first round, 21-30. Here are four guys I believe could end up being steals, as well as a few guys that just missed the cut.
Just missed the cut:
Carsen Edwards, PG
Measurements: Height 6’1”, Weight 201, Wingspan 6’5”
Reason for missing: Fantastic shooter but doesn’t seem to be much else. Playmaking would need to make a big leap, as well as his defense.
Nic Claxton, C
Measurements: Height 6’11”, Weight 220, Wingspan 7’2.5”
Reason for missing: Intriguing shot blocker and switchable defender who’s still just 20 years old. Needs to develop a better outside game on offense to be a surefire steal.
Chuma Okeke, PF
Measurements: Height 6’8”, Weight 230, Wingspan 7’
Reason for missing: Injuries have pushed his stock just out of range. Still a possibility he goes in the first round, but it’s not looking likely. If he fell in the first-round range, he’d be a lock for this list.
Lugentz Dort, PG/SG
Measurements: Height 6’4”, Weight 222, Wingspan 6’8.5”
Reason for missing: Has an incredible work ethic, and is a fantastic defender, but the jumper is a very real question mark.
Grant Williams, PF
Measurements: Height 6’6”, Weight 236, Wingspan 6’10”
Why he could be a steal: Williams seems to be polarizing among draft people. Some question his mobility and his offensive upside, while other feel those won’t be an issue. I have Williams in my top 15 of my big board, and some places have Williams falling to the very end of the first round.
Williams has the work ethic, intelligence, strength, and defensive skills to stick around in the NBA for a long time. He could be around for a decade or more. His shooting is a question mark, but everything else points to a productive NBA player who could be a starter at his peak.
Matisse Thybulle, SF
Measurements: Height 6’5”, Weight 201, Wingspan 7’
Why he could be a steal: Thybulle doesn’t have a fantastic offensive game, but he was one of the best defenders in college basketball last season. He’s short for a small forward, but the wingspan should allow him to maintain his defensive prowess.
His shot needs to translate to be more than just a bench defender, but Thybulle should keep his place in the NBA for a while just based on defensive ability. He played a free safety type role with Washington, and it led to 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks a game.
Luka Samanic, PF/C
Measurements: Height 6’11”, Weight 227, Wingspan 6’10.5”
Why he could be a steal: Samanic started the season projected as a top prospect but fell after he didn’t live up to expectations overseas. His minus wingspan also brings up questions about his defensive upside.
But the questions about his defensive upside are mitigated, for the most part, by the fact that he’s athletic enough to be a switch defender and guard several positions on the floor. Samanic can also shoot it well from three-point range, is a smart player, and should be able to carve out a role in the NBA.
Kevin Porter Jr., SG
Measurements: Height 6’6”, Weight 218, Wingspan 6’9”
Why he could be a steal: At the start of the season, Porter Jr. was considered a top five prospect. He has good size for an off guard, he’s strong, and is one of the best individual shot creators in the class. But a lackluster season at USC, including an injury, suspension, and less than 10 points per game while he was on the court, have pushed him down the board.
Porter has all the physical tools, athleticism, and individual skills needed to succeed at the NBA level. From a pure talent standpoint, he’s one of the best in the draft class. But this isn’t a talent issue. The off-the-court issues that led to the aforementioned suspension, in addition to questions about his work ethic, have him going in the 22-25 range as of the time of writing.
If those issues are overblown, then he could end up as one of the best players in this class. But if not, he may be out of the NBA at the end of his first contract. I’m betting on the former, and he could be the piece that puts a contender over the top.
Donnie Menke is a contributing writer at 48 Minutes Network & Banners Parkway. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @donnie_menke