Every year, NBA teams overlook someone come draft day. In 2019, we know Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett well, but who will be the inevitable player — or players — to slip through the cracks?
In last year’s draft alone, Landry Shamet — a key piece in a trade involving Tobias Harris and a big shot-maker for the Clippers — was taken No. 26 overall, Hawks All-Rookie Second team guard Kevin Huerter was selected No. 19, and Knicks center Mitchell Robinson went at No. 36. Late-round steals will happen! They always do.
Here’s who the SB Nation staff thinks your team should snag.
1. Chuma Okeke
Auburn forward Chuma Okeke was having the game of his life against North Carolina in the Sweet 16 when he tore his ACL. It’s a devastating injury that will set back the start of his NBA career.
But his performance in that game is also the reason Okeke is in this draft. As scouts went back to look at his tape, they saw a 6’8 combo forward who feels like an ideal fit in today’s NBA.
Okeke has an advanced feel for the game that translates on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he has the size, quickness, and technique to guard up to three positions in the NBA. He put up monster block and steal rates this season as a sophomore, and has value not only at the point of attack, but also as a help defender.
Offensively, Okeke hit 39 percent of his threes and was an efficient scorer on a variety of play types, according to data from Synergy Sports. He finished in the 91st percentile of half-court scorers, in the 81st percentile in transition, and graded out as “excellent” on cuts, post-ups, and in limited isolation opportunities.
Okeke has lottery talent for a player who should be available late in the first round. He’s a prospect worth being patient for.
2. Jontay Porter
Porter risked everything by going back to school for his sophomore season at Mizzou, and it’s a decision he may regret for the rest of his professional career. The 6’11 forward tore his ACL and MCL in a scrimmage before the 2018-19 season, then tore his ACL again five months later without stepping back onto the court. ACL injuries are scary, but not career-threatening, making the younger brother of Nuggets’ 2018 lottery pick Michael Porter a low-risk, high-reward second-round pick.
In his one season in college, Jontay Porter was every bit the versatile big man the modern NBA seeks. He posted a 57 percent true shooting percentage from the field, including 37 percent on 109 three-point attempts. Porter was the No. 93 defensive rebounder in the nation and No. 90 in block percentage, too. Ten points and seven rebounds per game may not sound like much, but he can do a bit of everything.
He’s worth the late gamble for a team willing to wait out his healing process.
3. Admiral Schofield
Schofield was a key reason for Tennessee’s most successful seasons in program history. The two-time All-SEC guard stands at 6”6, but he like plays much bigger than that. At 240 pounds, his strength and physicality allows him to slip into the post to score and rebound. That versatility makes Schofield an interesting prospect.
As a four-year college player, he’s a finished product and likely will be immediately ready to contribute to any team. Whatever team ends up taking him will get a lot of value from the selection.
In his senior season, Schofield averaged 16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He improved his three-point shooting throughout his time at Tennessee, shooting nearly 42 from beyond the arc in 2019. Defensively, Schofield has proven himself along the perimeter, but may struggle guarding some of the NBA’s larger forwards.
Overall, Schofield has a high floor with potential for more development. He’s primed to be a solid role player for any NBA team this coming season.