NBA Draft 2018: Top 5 Must-See Sleepers

Every year, the NBA draft produces rotational players beyond the lottery. Or some late lottery guys play like they were the best player in their class, Donovan Mitchell. Other times there are gems in the second round like a Draymond Green or Manu Ginobili. The following list takes a look at five players from the 2018 draft that could exceed expectations in their rookie years.

1. Robert Williams III, PF/C, 27th, Boston Celtics

Falling all the way to 27th due to off-court issues along with a nagging knee injury, the rich got richer. The one piece that general manager Danny Ainge covets for his already loaded team is that rim-running center that can catch lobs on one end, and block everything on the other, similar to Clint Capela. In bigs Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, or even Greg Monroe, none of them are really elite at being a rim-runner. Enter Robert Williams, the American version of Clint Capela, who thrives at protecting the rim thanks to his above-average wingspan and elite leaping ability. On the offensive end, Williams is still raw, where the majority of his buckets come from lobs or putbacks from his relentless effort on the offensive glass. However, a trait that goes unnoticed with Williams is his ability to pass the basketball and understand the game. In the system that coach Brad Steven’s has implemented in Boston, he needs bigs that can pass the ball and see the court. Williams may be the perfect fit, and assuming Brad unlocks his potential like he has with so many other of his prospects, the Celtics will come away with a feeling that they got the steal of the draft.

2. Kevin Huerter, SG/SF, 19th, Atlanta Hawks

A tough hand injury prior to the NBA draft was the one setback that kept Huerter’s meteoric rise out of the lottery. Arguably the best catch and shoot threat in the draft, Huerter should fit in nicely with newly acquired point guard Trae Young along with an existing core featuring Tauren Prince and John Collins. At 6’7 with an above-average wingspan and solid frame, Huerter as all the tools to develop his game into the mold of Klay Thompson. If he comes back fully healthy and fully integrated into the Hawks rotation, he may have the biggest impact on this team as a rookie as well as long-term. The Hawks clearly have a vision, and while Young Huerter may never be Steph & Klay right out the gates, there is potential they could do similar things those guys do to a certain degree.

3. Khyri Thomas, G/SF, 38th, Detroit Pistons

This pick might have been the best value pick of the entire draft. The Pistons have two major weaknesses in defending and perimeter shooting. Arguably the two most important aspects in today’s game. In their past couple drafts they have opted to go with one-way specialists; a lockdown defender in Stanley Johnson, a lights-out shooter in Luke Kennard. The problem with these two guys is that Stanley can’t shoot (when he learns to he will be a star) and Kennard can’t defend. Enter Khyri Thomas, who at 6’3 with a super long wingspan thrives on perimeter defense and perimeter shooting. He also won’t need to worry about playmaking as the ball will mostly be in Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson, and Blake Griffin for playmaking duties. Another picture perfect fit, making the Pistons very interesting for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

4. Omari Spellman, PF/C, 30th, Atlanta Hawks

Another shooter for the Hawks as they try to reshape their offensive approach. In Spellman —unlike Huerter and Young— they are getting a stretch big. At 6’9 with a 7’2 wingspan, it remains to be seen what his duties will be on the defensive side but the potential to switch, protect the rim and rebound is there for him if he can get himself into better shape. It is clear that the Hawks have been influenced by the Warriors and are going to let it fly from beyond the arc whenever a look is there. A lineup of Young, Huerter, Prince, Spellman, and Collins down the road could be a really nice team or even a contender depending on how coach Lloyd Pierce can develop these guys. The Hawks may have botched the first trade of the night sending away the Slovenian Star, Luke Doncic, however by adding Huerter and Spellman, the Hawks deserve credit for picking a vision and sticking to it.

5. Jevon Carter, 32nd, G, Memphis Grizzlies

Another match made in heaven, the grit-and-grind Grizzlies get the most grit-and-grind players from the draft in senior guard Jevon Carter. What Carter lacks in size and athleticism he makes up for in his effort and hustle. His on ball-defense is superb and is going to allow him to find minutes this season. His offensive game still needs works as he needs to sharpen up his outside stroke but he can be a nice player off the bench as a change of pace guard that can press or play a half a court game. Like the Hawks, the Grizzlies also stuck to their pre-draft vision. By selecting Carter, along with number four overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr, the Grizzlies were looking for defense, and it just happens they may have found the best two at their respective positions in the entire draft. This was another perfect fit and while Carter may never be a star starting point guard, he’s going to have a long career as a role player.

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