2020 NBA Draft: Five Sleeper Prospects Undervalued in this Class
One of the best things about the 2020 NBA Draft is trying to find that sleeper prospect. Every year, a few prospects are not valued enough on draft night and are taken in the late first or second round; these players then perform like lottery talents in the NBA, proving most GMs wrong and making their team’s management look like geniuses.
The 2020 NBA Draft does not have any superstars. This draft class does not have any definite legitimate, high-end starters (maybe except James Wiseman). Therefore, it is as vital as ever for teams to look for a sleeper prospect who could shock the league.
Recent sleeper prospects include Tyler Herro, Donovan Mitchell, Devonte’ Graham, and Malcolm Brogdon. In the class of 2020, there seem to be many players who can fulfill a substantial role at the next level. However, the difficulty is figuring out which player could take the leap from role player to starter and from starter to all-star.
Many people will say that this draft class is bad, which I am not denying. However, there will be players in every draft that outperform the pick in which they were selected. This draft is no different. There are a few players that I think are being seriously undervalued. These players could carve out important roles for winning teams right from the start of their careers. Here are five sleeper prospects that I think can become solid players in the NBA.
Malachi Flynn, PG San Diego State
Malachi Flynn was quietly one of the best point guards in the nation last season. Flynn led the SDSU Aztecs to a 30-2 record and was a threat from all over. He averaged 17.6 points per game and 5.1 assists last season. One of the most impressive skills that Flynn has is his basketball I.Q. Flynn is incredible with the ball and always knows where his teammates are on the court. He excels at the pick and roll and has a very explosive first step off the screen. Flynn is an exceptional pull-up shooter and has reportedly improved his three-point shooting.
Flynn is projected to be selected right in the middle of the draft at around pick 30. However, he offers tons of value as a versatile scorer and capable guard defender. Flynn does not turn the ball over and is disciplined in his ball-handling and shot selection. If he is selected in the late first round, Flynn will immediately be a part of a championship-caliber team and have an essential role as the backup point guard. Although it is a mainstream comparison, Flynn plays so much like Toronto’s Fred VanVleet. He should offer plenty of upside as a two-way point guard in the NBA and has the potential to be a team’s leading option at the guard position.
Devon Dotson, PG Kansas
Devon Dotson is a player that is not talked about nearly enough in this class. The former Kansas Jayhawk did not have the most remarkable freshman year and returned to school for his sophomore season. Dotson exploded as a sophomore, averaging 18.1 points per game, 4.0 assists per game, and shot 46.8 percent from the field. Dotson has good size for a point guard, measuring in at 6’2″ and 185 pounds. He is an excellent shot creator and always gets his shot off in some of the most challenging circumstances. Finishing at the rim is one of Dotson’s great strengths, and his quickness with the ball is what allows him to get there.
Devon Dotson has, in my opinion, the most explosive first step out of any prospect in this draft class. In half-court sets, he is so difficult to guard. This will be a tremendous skill to build on at the next level. If a team could add a player with Dotson’s scoring ability in the second round, that selection to me is a steal. Dotson is also more than just a scorer. He averaged 4.1 rebounds per game last season and has no fear putting his body on the line in the paint. He also has been able to reasonably defend the point guard in his two years at Kansas, which again points out his lateral quickness.
Dotson will have to improve his shooting in the NBA, as he only covered 30% of his three-point attempts in 2019-2020. Fortunately, there have been draft rumors regarding Dotson, claiming that he has drastically improved his shooting. If Dotson is available in the second round, he will be one of the draft steals.
Ty-Shon Alexander, G Creighton
Ty-Shon Alexander has been one of my favorite college players for multiple years. As a Providence fan, I have watched him continuously absolutely manhandle guards and take away crucial possessions. Alexander is one of the best defenders in this draft class, and he will only get better. Last season, he averaged 16.9 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, and shot 39.9 percent from beyond the arc. Alexander will thrive at the next level due to his insane athleticism. He can defend multiple positions, and he can score at all three levels. Unlike most prospects in this draft, Alexander can be both a catch-and-shoot guy as well as a playmaking guard. This versatility should allow for success in the NBA.
Alexander is being projected as a mid-second round draft choice. If he is available in the second, the team who selects Alexander will get an absolute steal. Alexander has a unique combination of scoring and defense that should immediately grant him playing time with a second squad team. I think Alexander will play a similar way to how OKC’s Luguentz Dort played in the NBA postseason. I am very excited about Alexander at the next level, so he is undoubtedly a sleeper prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Naji Marshall, F Xavier
Naji Marshall has been rising draft boards since videos of his workouts have been shared on social media. Fortunately for me, I have always felt that he was a very undervalued prospect in this class. The 6’7″ junior averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season. He was Xavier’s best defender and, for three seasons, showed his ability to guard multiple positions. Naji Marshall has also demonstrated a knack for scoring, especially from the post and from pull-up jumpers.
Marshall’s offensive game is still a bit in question, but he has all the traits pointing to an improvement in the NBA. He has some playmaking ability and has made some tough shots over his collegiate career. As a second-round prospect, it would be difficult for me to pass up on Marshall. Do not be surprised if he becomes a premier option on his team as a point forward early in his career. If he has improved his shooting, Marshall will get a role in the rotation right away as a three-and-D guy. Marshall will come into the league with one of the highest ceilings of any second-round prospect. Naji Marshall is a sleeper prospect to watch out for in the NBA.
Desmond Bane, G/F TCU
Arguably the best for last, TCU’s Desmond Bane already looks like he will be a reliable pro in the NBA. In his senior season at TCU, the 6’6″ and 215-pound combo guard averaged 16.6 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. Bane is a prototypical leader on the basketball court. He makes others around him better by providing energy and making smart plays with the ball. Bane has proven to be lights out shooter at times, especially in big games. What he lacks with speed, he makes up for with hustle. Bane has an incredible motor and is continuously moving around the court, finding the best looks for himself or his teammates.
Bane seems like he will be that prospect who is selected late in the draft due to his age but will end up performing like a lottery pick. He reminds me so much of Malcolm Brogdon in this way. Bane is a “possesses all skills but is a master of none” type of player. He can handle the ball, shoot, score at the rim, rebound, and defend, but will not make many jaw-dropping plays. Bane gets the job done and is a model of consistency. Expect great return value for the team that pulls the trigger on Bane on November 18.