The scouting process for the 2019 NBA Draft, at least for those whose livelihoods are not dependent on their ability to build a professional basketball team’s roster, more or less came to an end after the draft combine. NBA teams will continue on unabated by working out and meeting prospects, but from the fan’s perspective, we’ve more or less gotten all the info we can use. So what, then, do we focus on?
There’s always buzz around finding the next second round gem. This time of year is frequently about the players identified as “fast risers” — in 2019, think KZ Okpala or Darius Bazley — but I wanted to look up and down the draft and try to identify the players getting ignored. The most effective way to scout is still watching basketball players play basketball games, and these eight players were all good enough at it to make me wonder why they aren’t getting more love.
Dean Wade, Kansas State (F/C)
He’s had his fair share of injury problems, which is what I imagine has hurt his stock more than anything, but Wade is a good basketball player. A bit of a tweener at 6’9 and 230 pounds, Wade’s defensive instincts are as good as any non-Zion Williamson, non-Brandon Clarke big man in this draft, and he’s a very good shooter for his size — he connected on more than 40 percent of his threes over the last three years in Manhattan, and as a senior, Wade shot just under 79 percent from the charity stripe.
His steal numbers are pretty low for a switchy big, but that might be more a product of his teammates: Barry Brown, Mike McGuirl, Cartier Diarra, Xavier Sneed, and Kamau Stokes all finished with STL% of 2.2 or higher. I get why Wade could be better served going undrafted, but the fact that he doesn’t even seem to exist in draft circles is strange to me, given how consistently good he was as a true two-way big.
DaQuan Jeffries, Tulsa (F)
Another senior (most of these guys are), but on the complete opposite path athletically. Jeffries is among most purely athletic players in this entire draft class, and while he has plenty of flaws — namely with regards to creating his own shot — he’s the type of super-athletic small ball forward who can get minutes in a playoff setting where a lot of players can’t.
If he shoots and defends the way someone with his size, strength and power should, it’s very easy to see him being in the NBA for 8-10 years and contributing to winning basketball. Drafting for potential is one thing, but it’s perhaps just as important to know what kind of potential you’re looking for, and oftentimes, the shortest path to contributing is the easiest.