Sports

Rothstein Files: 5 Sleepers In The 2012 NBA Draft

(credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

(credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

By Jon Rothstein
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1. JARED CUNNINGHAM, OREGON STATE

THE SKINNY: An athletic freak that has a chance to be a lock down defender, Cunningham may be the best player in this draft that no one knows about. Playing in relative obscurity for the Beavers, the 6-foot-4 guard has serious athleticism and has drawn multiple comparisons from PAC-12 coaches to current Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook. If Cunningham refines his ball handling skills, he’ll be able to play both back court positions in what should be a long and productive NBA career.

2. JEFFERY TAYLOR, VANDERBILT

THE SKINNY: NBA body? Check. NBA athlete. Without question. Under the radar? Absolutely. While Taylor wasn’t as hyped during his college career as Vanderbilt teammates Festus Ezeli and John Jenkins, the 6-foot-7 small forward has a chance to be more successful at the next level because of his ability to do different things on the floor at an effective level. A solid rebounder and above average defender, Taylor became noticeably more efficient on offense during his last season with the Commodores and could turn into a Richard Jefferson type at the next level.

3. ARNETT MOULTRIE, MISSISSIPPI STATE

THE SKINNY: Other than Anthony Davis, Moultrie was probably the second best statistical player last season in the SEC. Blessed with an NBA body and a terrific second jump, this lanky big man has the chance to be a very good at attacking the offensive glass at the next level. Moultrie may never be a superstar but should be a regular in someone’s rotation for a long time. Give him minutes and he’s going to give you numbers.

4. KIM ENGLISH, MISSOURI

THE SKINNY: The definition of a “utility player” in the NBA, English’s versatility and ability to guard multiple positions will make him a valuable piece. A much improved outside shooter and effective rebounder, English may have to bounce around for a while before he finds the right situation — but he’s got the toughness, intangibles, and size (6-6) to stick in the league.

5. KEVIN MURPHY, TENNESSEE TECH

THE SKINNY: Lanky guard has a wiry build and a scorer’s mentality. Despite only weighing 185 pounds and standing 6-foot-6, Murphy has a craftiness about his game that allows him to get off shots and put points on the board at an effective rate. As a senior, Murphy averaged 20.6 points per game while shooting 41.6% from 3-point range. Many NBA scouts have compared him to current Houston Rockets guard Kevin Martin.

Do you have a sleeper to add? Be heard in the c0mments below…