FanPost

A Few Deep Sleepers with NBA Potential to Consider (Norvel Pelle, Mam Jaiteh, D.J. Stephens)

Every year now teams are finding players with NBA skill at the end of the draft, through the D-League, and from unheralded European teams. The Wizards have recently made a bad habit of wasting their their 2nd round selections (with talent on the board) or simply selling them away. This year they will probably discard at least one of the two selections, but there are a few guys who will be around late in the draft or via free agency that will be worth a look or to stash in the the D-League.

The first guy I'd like to take a look at is Norvel Pelle. Pelle was the top rated Center in the class of 2011 and committed to play at St. John's but never took the floor over eligibility issues. He later transferred to Iona but again struggled to get eligible due to grades and some personal family issues. Pelle is 6'11'' in shoes with over a 9 foot standing reach, and was actually invited to the NBA Scouting Combine last week despite being out of top-level competitive basketball for 2 years now. Based on some of the limited highlight tape available of him, he resembles a slightly poorer-man's Nerlens Noel. He is long and thin, but he appears to possess skills to be a good shot blocker and finisher. He is rail thin at 207 pounds and obviously faces character concerns (some of which can be explained by the poor health of his mother), but he may deserve a chance to earn his way onto a roster. One last thing to consider on Pelle is that he performed a small workout in El Segundo, CA with Jordan Henriquez (Kansas State) and Josiah Turner (Arizona St.) on May 4th. A dozen NBA team reps were at the workout and Pelle was the only player to receive a Combine Invite after the workout, thus showing that he has a considerable amount of talent to receive a snap-bid to the NBA Scouting Combine.

Another guy whose status is up in the air in league circles is Mouhammadou Jaiteh. He measured in at 6'11" with a 7'4" wingspan at the Nike Hoop Summit, which was two inches taller than expected. He is extremely raw and isn't and extremely explosive athlete, but he averages a double-double in Division B in France. But possibly the most important thing to remember about Jaiteh is that he is only 18 years old, which makes him about 5 years younger than Gorgui Dieng whom his frame is similar too. His highlights display a nose for the ball on the rebounding end and can knock down a mid-range jumper, but he currently lacks the ability to finish strong at a consistent level. Jaiteh still has a ton of room to grow as he is only 18, and could be the perfect prospect to stash in the D-League for a significant amount of time and allow him to develop as an interior presence.

Third on the list here is a freak formally known as D.J. Stephens from Memphis. For those not familiar with Stephens, he is hands down the best athlete in this class. He is a 6'5" forward who averaged over 2.5 blocks in just over 23 minutes a game. He barely played before his senior year at Memphis despite putting up solid per minute averages due in large part to fairly severe asthma (he was frequently shown with an inhaler on the bench). Stephens possesses the physical abilities to be an elite NBA defender, and he is very comfortable playing that role. He also displays a "motor" that is almost unparalleled by anybody else on the court, when combined with his athletic ability it makes for some impressive highlights. At times he seems to just hang in the when rising up for a rejection, or what seems to be an impossible dunk. Stephens' teammates at Memphis also think very highly of him as they actually convinced him to continue his basketball career this past year as he was considering calling it quits prior to his senior year. He will never be a star, or even maybe a starter, but he can definitely contribute on an NBA team as an energy guy/defensive specialist off the bench.

These guys all of the potential to have long NBA careers if they are handled in the correct way. In the cases of Pelle and Jaiteh, they could both fill a void in the front court that the Wizards desperately need in terms of basket protection and shot blocking. They also terrific names, and I would very much enjoy hearing what Steve Buckhantz could come up with. Stephens would be a nice addition to any team, and could make guys like Trevor Ariza or Garrett Temple very expendable for Wiz.


This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.

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