There are five guys from the 2014 NBA Draft that I think will be major steals. All five of these guys were drafted outside of the lottery and have a chance to be stars.
James Young, 17th overall, Boston Celtics, Kentucky
James Young will be the best player in this draft class. He will lead Boston to greatness and he will do it soon.
He is one of the most dominant college players I have ever seen. Many times last year when he got his hands on the ball, he took over and finished strong at the rim. He was only a freshman but he played like an experienced junior or senior. He averaged 14.3 points per game last year and had 20 points in the national championship game against UCONN.
Young has Avery Bradley and Marcus Thornton ahead of him. Bradley is very good, but he isn’t a match for Young. Look for Young to be the starter early in the season.
I don’t know why he is rated so low. The Celtics got a steal. He has all the tools; shooting, defense, driving to the basket, and possibly best of all, his intensity. When he wants to, he can make any play. He may not win Rookie of the Year, but he will be the best player in this class, just like Kawhi Leonard who went 15th overall in 2011.
When the pick was announced, Bill Simmons was just as excited as he was in his 30 for 30, Four Days in October which is about his beloved Boston Red Sox.
Gary Harris, 19th overall, Denver Nuggets, Michigan State
Gary Harris should have been a lottery pick and somehow fell to No. 19. I don’t know how that happened.
Harris will get to play behind Arron Affalo and Randy Foye but Brian Shaw and the Nuggets will for sure find him plenty of minutes.
His college career at Michigan State ended in an Elite Eight loss to eventual national champion UCONN. Harris did his fair share of work that game by scoring 22. Look for Harris to be a mainstay in this league for 10-15 years.
Jordan Adams, 22nd overall, Memphis Grizzlies, UCLA
Jordan Adams is one of my favorite players to watch. In UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class they had Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Adams. They were rated in that order. There isn’t any doubt now that Adams is the best of those four. He should be able to do the same thing in the NBA.
Like James Young, Adams has the intensity and he is the guy you want to take the last shot. This season he averaged 17.4 points per game and scored more than 20 points in 13 different games.
He comes into Memphis with some solid guys ahead of him. Courtney Lee and Tony Allen will be hard to beat out as a rookie. They have both been around a long time and they will do anything they can to earn their minutes, especially Allen. Either way, Adams will work his way up the ladder. He will be one those guys you don’t want to take out of the game.
Kyle Anderson, 30th overall, San Antonio Spurs, UCLA
Kyle Anderson was the nation’s third rated recruit in 2013. His time at UCLA was disappointing at the beginning, but it got better as time went on and he had 15 double doubles his sophomore season. San Antonio is a perfect place for Kyle because he will have time to learn. Gregg Popovich is one of the best at developing his players. The only lottery pick on his team is Tim Duncan.
He seems like he is a guy who will buy into this system and accept being a role player because he has Kawhi Leonard in front of him. He will get to learn and win a lot his first two years with the Spurs. When he gets thrust in game action, he will know that his teammates have his back 100 percent. That team will do anything it can to make a guy better. Tim Duncan is the most underrated player in any sport in history I think. Sure, people praised him in the Finals, but that is the last time I have even heard his name. That is probably how he likes it though.
Overall, Anderson is a great pick for the Spurs. He has the talent to be one of the best this game has ever seen and now he gets the best coach. He will have virtually no pressure to be an impact player either because of the talent the Spurs already have.
Nick Johnson, 42nd overall, Houston Rockets, Arizona
Nick Johnson is all business and was a very efficient and proven leader at Arizona. It isn’t often that a second round pick has the chance to be great, but this is one of them. He won’t be able to start at shooting guard because of James Harden, but he should be able either be the starting point guard or the backup point guard as a rookie. The other point guards are Patrick Beverly, Ish Smith and Isaiah Canaan. I think he passes Smith and Canaan easily.
At Arizona he was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. His season and college career ended in a heartbreaker against Wisconsin in the Elite Eight. He averaged 16.3 points per game and really made the most of having Aaron Gordon who was the fourth overall pick after just one year in college. Gordon was rated as the third best player in high school in 2013. I’m not sure if Gordon would have put up the same numbers without Johnson. Gordon is a great player and Johnson played to his strengths.
Imagine how good Johnson will be when he has a chance to feed Dwight Howard the ball. This move could really be what the Rockets need to get to the next level. If Harden and Howard are happy, they will be the most deadly combo in the league. And if that happens, it will be because of Nick Johnson.