2018 NBA Draft: Top Sleepers and Busts
Busts and Sleepers in the 2018 NBA Draft
A bust is a pick who underperforms relative to where they are taken. These are usually players taken within the draft lottery (first to 14th pick) who play worse than players taken after. On the flipside, sleepers are players drafted later (after the 10th pick) who perform much better than they were credited for.
The 2018 draft class is loaded with talent with over a dozen who can contribute quickly. But there will also be a few who will be taken too early and a few who will make teams regret passing on them. We look at potential busts and sleepers.
Sleeper: Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech)
Smith is arguably the draft’s most freakish athlete. The 6’4″ guard has a 45-inch vertical and has been likened to J.R. Smith but with higher basketball IQ. The only thing holding Smith back is his rawness and if he had stayed in college and polished his game a bit, he’d likely be a top-5 pick in next year’s draft.
The Red Raider averaged 11.3 points shooting 57.4 per cent from two and 45 per cent from three but only attempted 1.1 threes a game. He needs to develop a jump shot especially from downtown in today’s NBA. Smith also needs help making plays and can also get lost in defence. But a player with a natural feel for the game will learn quickly.
Smith is projected to go between the 11th to 16th pick in the first but if he pans out, he could produce like a top-six pick, easily. It’s only a matter of when he starts contributing consistently.
Bust: Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri)
At one point, Porter was a consensus top-three pick and the nation’s top-rated prospect. But a back injury all but derailed the 6’11” small forward’s hype. Porter was limited to just three games with the Tigers and averaged 10 points and 6.7 rebounds. As a boom-or-bust pick, it’s looking more like the latter.
Teams don’t mess with back injuries for a reason. These types of injuries are notorious for cutting a player’s explosive abilities and even All-Stars like Larry Johnson and Tracy McGrady were never the same afterwards. Porter has Kevin Durant-esque offence. He is a match-up nightmare and has a high release point making his shot difficult to block.
Porter has also shown flashes of ingenious playmaking and outside of an all-around offensive game, he has high basketball IQ and can blossom into being a solid defender. However, all of this is dependent on his ability to stay healthy. With a back injury already lingering, it’s tough to see him live up to his potential making him a likely bust.
Sleeper: Melvin Frazier (Tulane)
Frazier is an example of what happens to great prospects who come from not-so-great programs. Tulane finished 14-17 (5-13 in the AAC) and was an afterthought for most of the college season. Still, the junior is a top-30 prospect and averaged 15.9 points at 63.1 true shooting per cent.
The 6’5″ guard is a well-rounded player who can shoot the three-ball and is an underrated finisher. He also has NBA-level athleticism and has a 7-foot, 1.75-inch wingspan. And most importantly, he can play defence.
Frazier could be the best second-round pick since Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, who became the first second-round pick to win Rookie of the Year. A team like the Dallas Mavericks could unlock Frazier’s full potential and make every team that passed on him pay.
Bust: Trae Young (Oklahoma)
Plenty of analysts are already pegging Young as this year’s biggest bust yet he is still projected to get drafted within the top-five. Young was at one point the top college prospect and even garnered comparisons to Steph Curry. While he has the x-factor to defy his critics, he comes up short in many categories.
The main concern with Young is his size. The 6’2″ 180 lb. guard is undersized and doesn’t have an NBA body. Curry’s wits and impeccable shooting made it a non-issue but Young doesn’t have the same potency as Curry. He is fearless and will jack up 20-footers at will but he doesn’t have Curry’s eye or efficiency.
Another glaring issue is his defence. He averaged 1.7 steals in the NCAA but he is a defensive liability. He also tends to be a ball hog and is turnover prone.
At best, Young can become a player similar to Lou Williams but players like this are best drafted late in the first and not as a lottery pick. And this is why Young will be a bust for whichever team reaches for him.
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The NBA Draft will air on TSN and is an exciting way to kick off the NBA offseason. Basketball-starved fans will be active online making their own predictions while looking for the latest scoops. Additionally, they turn to online sportsbooks to start wagering on how the draft turns out.
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