Happy Holidays! What are we celebrating? NBA Draft season of course! The NBA Playoffs have been tapering off in excitement by the round, and with the NBA Draft Lottery past usand the draft order locked in stone, all the fun begins. The mock drafts are rolling out faster than Auntie Anne’s pretzels on a Friday night at the local mall. The top three picks will be the hottest storyline, but that’s not where I focus my eyes on this draft. This is one of the deepest pool of players in recent history for a reason, so I’m focusing on the 2014 NBA Draft’s biggest sleepers.
The huge debate concerns the order of the top three picks with Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Wiggins likely going in some order. That discussion will go on until the No. 1 pick is announced on draft night and Bill Simmons flips his s*** again. Speaking of Embiid, check out his pre-draft workout.
With such a heralded draft class, people forget other names are in the draft outside of the lottery. Here at Dime, we are equal opportunity people so let’s get to 10 of the biggest sleepers in the 2014 NBA Draft Class.
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This sweet-haired guard from the small school of Louisiana Lafayette has a bright future ahead of him in the NBA. In an interview at the NBA Draft Combine with DraftExpress, Payton considered himself the best point guard in the draft. Watching him on tape makes it’s obvious why Payton believes he’s elite. The first thing to jump out about Payton is his size. He’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-8 wingspan. While his size helps Payton in multiple areas on the court, this is especially true for his defense. Payton is a tenacious on-ball defender and is able to guard positions one-through-four due to his length; Payton guarded Doug McDermott several times during their matchup in the NCAA Tournament. Being able to step on the court on day one and guard almost every position on the floor should bode well for Payton’s draft stock.
In his junior campaign with Louisiana Lafayette, Payton averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 26 percent from deep. Payton is a terror in transition, where 24.1 percent of his offense comes. According to DraftExpress, Payton scored 1.13 PPP in transition. Being able to score, facilitate, and rebound at the point guard position is a luxury, one teams should get if they select Payton.
One of the more intriguing things about Payon is his age, considering he completed three seasons at the NCAA level. Payton entered ULL at the age of 17 and is only 20 years old. He’s only a few weeks older than Joell Embiid and Marcus Smart, and just six months older than Tyler Ennis, while having three years of college experience.
If a comparison for Payton existed, it would be Michael Carter-Williams, the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year. Both guards have a less-than-favorable jumpshot (Payton has named his jumper as the top thing he’s working on); both can still impact the game due to their size and length. Just like MCW, Payton crashes the boards, which is a great attribute for a point guard to get into transition early and often.