1. Kris Dunn – Guard – Providence Friars
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Providence Friars guard Kris Dunn’s physical stature would allow one to think the junior is NBA ready. Furthermore, his ability to shoot from beyond the arc and quickness off the dribble make him a complete offensive player. In Providence’s only win in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, a 70-69 victory over the USC Trojans in the first round, Dunn saved several of the Friars’ terrible offensive possessions late in the game by hitting multiple deep threes late in the shot clock.
In addition to his shooting ability, Dunn can rebound surprisingly well as he averaged more than five rebounds per game this season. His ability to score in transition is a big part of his offensive attack, but despite Dunn’s offensive talent, his on-ball defense has to improve at the next level.
Dunn’s devotion to sharing the basketball will serve him well in the early years of his professional career. It’s a given that Dunn’s offensive efficiency should decline from college in his rookie year in the NBA. However, being a willing passer and realizing the talent around him will not only boost his individual statistics, but it will also help the overall offensive efficiency of his new team.
Pro Player Comparison: Dwyane Wade – Shooting guard – Miami Heat
2. A.J. English – Guard – Iona Gaels
A.J. English is one the most versatile players in the 2016 draft. At the collegiate level, he could handle duties at most positions and with his ball handling ability, English can play point guard. At 6-foot-4, English is able to post up smaller defenders, but developing a pass first mentality in the NBA could improve his offensive efficiency.
Iona has rarely had next-level talent on its roster. As a result, English was the Gaels’ primary offensive threat during the last two years of his collegiate career. English averaged nearly 23 points per game as a senior this season. Furthermore, he showed a willingness to get his teammates involved in the offense, averaging 6.2 assists per game his final year as a Gael. English’s ceiling is extremely high, and if he’s able to get stronger early in his professional career, English could become one of the more potent offensive threats in the league. Whether his unique skillset translates to the next level remains to be seen.
Pro Player Comparison: Elfrid Payton – Point guard – Orlando Magic
3. Gary Payton II – Guard – Oregon State Beavers
Being the son of a Hall of Fame player typically wouldn’t put you in the “sleeper” category. However, senior guard Gary Payton II went through most of his career at Oregon State without receiving much notoriety — So much so that most fans didn’t even know who he was until postseason play.
In the Beavers only NCAA tournament game, a 75-67 loss to VCU, Payton II put up 19 points, including a ridiculous alley-oop dunk, to go along with six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Payton II is extremely athletic, and he’s best-known for his unique jumping ability and strong finishes at the rim. His jumping ability allows him to grab rebounds among taller players as he averaged nearly eight rebounds per game last season.
Similar to Dunn, transition scoring is a big part of Payton’s offensive repertoire. Grabbing rebounds and finishing with force on the other end was a primary scoring outlet for Payton as a member of the Beavers. He’ll have to become a better passer in the NBA to fit the mold of a more traditional point guard, but Payton’s extreme athleticism makes him a viable mid-to-late first-round pick.
Pro Player Comparison: Zach LaVine – Point guard – Minnesota Timberwolves