Written by: Flight
Every year we see these guys come out of nowhere and contribute and wonder where did they come from. We instantly start to mention how the Spurs or the Warriors or the Heat have developed a guy we’ve seldom heard of but have contributing in pivotal moments in the playoffs. Those franchises and numerous others can identify what we call as the sleeper prospect. The guys who have produced in college but may get overlooked due to a lack of explosive athletic ability or they haven’t shown enough on tape but live off their athletic abilities. We’ve all heard those sayings in regards to prospects around draft time. With the NBA lottery, only a week away we’ve all become familiar with the cream of the crop prospects such as Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson etc. But there are always guys who’ll be available around the late first round or early second round who could contribute to a team either now or years down the road. The two prospects who I see could be regarded as steals down the road are Jawun Evans and Hamidou Diallo.
Jawun Evans came into Oklahoma State with a lot of fanfare as he was regarded as their next star point guard after they had been searching for that guy to follow Marcus Smart’s footsteps. There were a lot of bumps in the road his freshman season as he eventually dealt with a shoulder injury that sidelined him for his freshman year. But even before the injury sidelined him he showed enough to tantalize draft fanatics to wonder about him being a future pro. Evans primetime performance his freshman year was an upset over Kansas. During the game he showed an advanced understanding of P&R play as he constantly ran it to get the switch or blow by the Kansas point of attack defender. When the main defender and the big stayed on him he could get the ball to a big.
That’s one of the main selling points of Evans as a prospect is his profiency in the P&R. It’s also the bread and butter play of the current NBA and Evans is experienced running it as it was 41 percent of his offense during the season. The defense can’t go under the screen consistently due to Evans shooting 37 percent from three. He also can be a dynamic player in transition due to his craftiness as a scorer. He mixes in floaters and a pullup game to keep the defense off balance. His average of 25.9 points per game per 40 is the best number among first round point guard prospects in this draft. Also, defensively he has nice lateral ability and is an aggressive defender as his 2.5 steals per 40 show. He’ll compete and his 6’4 wingspan and lateral quickness allows him to stay with ball handlers.
His weaknesses center around his lack of size, vertical explosiveness and struggles against length. He is a crafty scorer who mixes pull up jumpers, floaters etc. in his toolset. But he does struggle finishing against length and in the NBA, he’ll see a lot of that as a point guard. His size may be a limiting factor as he’s only around 6’0 in shoes. It’ll be a struggle for him to guard the bigger quicker point guards at times. His size can limit in the P&R as well and affect his passing vision because at times he can’t see the window or lane to get the pass through to hit the roll man. But in general, if you’re a team with a late first round or high second round pick he’s worth the risk. Evans could wind up being a solid backup and spot starter in the Darren Collison archetype of point guard.
Hamidou Diallo is the type of pick that could either get a gm an incredible amount of praise or get him laughed at depending on the infrastructure of your team. He’s never played a college game before declaring for the draft but he may have a case for being the best athlete in the draft. But Diallo is incredibly raw as the last competition he faced was high school competition. There are numerous things he needs to work as he doesn’t have a solid handle and it’s unlikely you’ll see him beating guys like Tony Allen or Klay Thompson off the bounce any time soon. He also isn’t a guy who can even be a secondary creator as he doesn’t seem to have a feel for creating for others. Diallo also struggled shooting the ball in the Nike AAU circuit as he only shot 17 percent from three there. But his form isn’t completely broken so with the aid of NBA coaching there could be some benefits there if Diallo is willing to work. With those types of numbers it’s fair to wonder why he’s being discussed as a first round pick.
But the main selling point there is his outlier athleticism and length for a shooting guard. Hamidou measured out at 6’5 in the combined with a 6’11 wingspan and with his defensive quickness it’s likely he could end up being a multi-positional defender. When it comes to his leaping ability he’s a terror to deal with in a fast break situation as he has outlier leaping ability especially off two feet although as evidenced by his 44-inch vertical leap. Diallo isn’t a prospect that’s going to contribute immediately like an Embiid or Karl Towns but if for a team that’s willing to gamble on a prospect and invest time, they could find their starting two guard for the future.