NBA Draft

Who Are the Most Underrated 2024 NBA Draft Prospects?

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Every year, every class, there are a couple of gems— diamonds in the rough, to whom NBA GM’s look back and think ‘Damn, how did we not see it?’

This class is no different, with players at every position booming with NBA potential. Guys who may fly under the radar at first, but upon a closer look, are valuable pieces to playoff teams.

This piece intends to show you just that, and give you a closer look at the players that have the potential to be amongst the hidden gems.

Point Guard- Juan Nunez

Juan Nunez is a 6’4″, 194-pound European prodigy, whose shot creation, offensive vision and on-ball defense lauds him as a top prospect in this year’s draft.

Nunez was ranked at No. 5 in The Lead’s 2024 NBA Draft Big Board, and second amongst all guards. A European prodigy who has played professionally since the tender age of 15, he is the embodiment of the modern point guard.

His ability to read and play the floor with little-to-no mistakes at such a young age is remarkable. He is by far and wide the best playmaker in this class. He sets the table like no prospect ever seen. He even puts the napkins into those fancy napkin rings.

Nunez begun his journey with Real Madrid in 2015, where he was scouted into the most elite academy in all of Europe at just 10 years of age. After rising through the youth ranks for five and a half years, Nunez made his professional debut in 2021 for Real Madrid amongst an injury crisis in the senior team.

The original plan? Give the kid a few spot minutes here and there until the real players were again healthy. Instead, Nunez made his mark on legendary European coach Pablo Laso, and kept his spot for 14 uber-impressive months. At the end of his contract, he made the switch to Bundesliga, signing for Ratiopharm Ulm.

Since joining the German giants, he has averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 assists in just 22 minutes per game. His greatest strength when it comes to scoring the ball is his ability to drive and finish through contact. He has an astonishing level of core body strength that prevent him from being knocked off his line on the way to the rim.

The only real question question mark is his three-point shooting ability. While he has shown the ability to knock them down in high volumes, his shot is sometimes streaky, at times even non-existent. His form is pure, though, and with NBA-level development staff, he should be able to become, at the very least, a serviceable NBA shooter.

On the defensive end though is where he rises up my board dramatically. His ruthless and relentless pressure on the ball handler is a trait that can’t be taught. Despite his limited minutes, he has averaged 1.9 steals per game paired with an elite steal percentage of 3.9%.

Similarly to many other European success stories such as Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, he possesses that burning fire and passion for winning, and he will stop at nothing to achieve that. And it’s THAT, that has really taken my attention.

Shooting Guard- Johnny Furphy

At 6’9″ and 205 pounds, the Australian-born Kansas product has flown up the most recent version of The Lead’s 2024 NBA Draft Big Board, from unranked to No. 42, and plenty of room left to rise.

In today’s NBA, having the right size and shooting ability is highly prized. Furphy possesses both the height and release point necessary to shoot over defenders. What sets him apart is his exceptional shooting mechanics and a jumper that promises great success in the future.

But Furphy isn’t just a shooter, he’s also skilled at handling the ball.

This versatility allows him to do more than just stand and shoot; he can dribble and find his way to the perfect spots on the court. Whether it’s a midrange shot or a shot from beyond the arc, Furphy has the talent to shoot accurately while on the move. Overall, his ball-handling skills are remarkably smooth for a player of his size, and he knows how to make the most of his length on the court.

Furphy is currently averaging 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds on a reliable 52% from the field and 38% from three-point range.

Small Forward- Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith ranked 20th on The Lead’s latest 2024 NBA Draft Big Board, finishing fourth amongst all power forwards.

The 6’10”, 215-pound G League Ignite product projects as an elite ‘3&D’ role-player. A projectable shooter with a modern wing toolkit and an strong defender, Smith is a lock to go in the first round. In fact, he may have the longest career of anyone in this class.

A low-usage, highly productive, two-way wing with extensive length and a well-built frame is exactly what NBA teams are looking for, especially the teams that have plans to contend sooner than later.

A contending team very well may trade into the draft to secure what is considered a low-risk, high-floor player who can contribute right away on a rookie-scale deal.

Smith is averages a steady 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds on just 22 minutes a night. His productivity, though, is what has scouts really excited. He is knocking down 48% of his shots, including 38% of his threes. Bear in mind that he is doing this against NBA-caliber defenses in the G League.

Smith is also remarkably fluid for his size, and has the ability to put the ball on the floor as a secondary or tertiary ball-handler. He’s comfortable with the ball in his hands and can make things happen off the bounce. While he isn’t a player that has the ability to be a primary scorer with the ball in his hands at a high rate, he is a quality complimentary piece on that end.

Power Forward- Jaedon LeDee

Standing tall at 6’9″, 240 pounds, San Diego State super-senior Jaedon LeDee is someone who has flown up my mock draft, really out of nowhere. He currently ranks 35th on The Lead’s 2024 NBA Draft Board.

He began his college career at Ohio State University, where he struggled his way through a season on just 6.6 minutes per game. Following the season, he transferred to Texas Christian University.

He spent two seasons at TCU, averaging a mild 2.7 points per game in — once again — limited minutes.

Finally, in 2022, he transferred to San Diego State University, where he averaged nearly nine points and five rebounds. The Aztecs fell to UConn in the 2023 NCAA Championship game, where he added seven points and four rebounds. Finally, though, he had shown the world he was a real contributor to an elite roster, and that he just might be able to crack it at this whole college thing.

In the 2023-24 season, LeDee was a standout, averaging 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and just south of two stocks per game on 56% from the field and 44.4% from three-point range.

He possesses an innate ability to read the floor, run plays, and hit players in their stride. He’s like a guard trapped inside the body of a dominant low-post big.

LeDee compares to a young Draymond Green with the ability to make catch-and-shoot threes on the regular.

He will be 23 by the time of the draft, so look for a contender to pick him up, similarly to Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Trayce Jackson-Davis in the 2023 NBA Draft. He is ready to contribute to winning basketball at this second. Don’t be surprised if a contender takes a flyer on him on the back end of the first round.

Center- Aaron Bradshaw

Kentucky product Aaron Bradshaw ranked just outside the first round, finishing 32nd on The Lead’s 2024 NBA Draft Big Board.

Bradshaw has absurdly long arms that give him a wide range of catch-and-dunk opportunities. He is a lob threat all the time and being surrounded by talented playmakers is perfect.

The talented big man is also a great screener as he can roll to the rim and pop out to three at the same time. Bradshaw thrives in the paint, where he can dunk everything and anything he can get his hands on near the rim.

Bradshaw can space the court and shoot triples. He has a nice jumper for a big man and has no trouble pulling up from 20 feet and beyond. He will certainly do it at the NBA level, and his good free-throw shooting and fluid mechanics will bring optimism to the jumper translating.

Bradshaw is not a great creator or true scorer, however. He has a limited handle at this size and is not a great post scorer. A few more post moves would completely change his game.

He also falls into the category of bigs that sometimes just fall in love with an outside jumper too often.

Bradshaw averaged 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds over 13.7 minutes per game behind a talented Kentucky frontcourt this season. He has shown impressive efficiency, however, knocking down 57.6% of his shots.

Due to his limited minutes, Bradshaw has struggled to get into rhythm from three-point range this year, scoring on just 28.6% of his attempts. That said, he has shown scouts his shooting ability is there during his high-school days, and this will be very unlikely to hinder his draft stock.

About Nic Thomas

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