19 August 2015

PBA's Four Possible Late Round Draft Sleepers

Draft Sleepers
What was once a throwaway part of the draft where everyone just hoped picks would make for good practice player and preseason roster competition, the second and third rounds of the PBA Draft has now become one of the best bargains in the league.

Everyone have seen players like Rome dela Rosa, Justin Melton, Kelly Nabong, Yousef Taha, Karl Dehesa, Josh Urbiztondo, and Tyrone Tang look like important role players. The league also saw Brian Heruela, LA Revilla, RJ Jazul, and others become important contributors to their respective teams.

With the structuring of late round contracts usually coming in well below what people might think, they become the highest value a team owner can get out of any contract in the PBA. And the value of cost efficiency with great production can be the difference between a playoff team being able to step forward with a loaded roster and a team struggling to put together a complete rotation because of contract restraints.

Heruela may be the best example of this over the past few seasons. He's gone from being a highly questioned 26th pick in the 2014 draft to becoming an integral part of the Blackwater Elite’s rotation before he was traded. It would not surprise anyone if he receives a 6-figure offer once his contract with the Barako Bull Energy Drinks expires.

While there isn't always a Brian Heruela ready to be plucked in the second or third rounds, team owners can still grab an important role player. That's what many teams are hoping to do on 23 August 2015 at the Robinsons Midtown Ermita, Manila when the first round ends and the complete crapshoot that is the second round begins.

Here are some of the potential late round sleepers who could end up being key pieces to playoff contenders right away:

Ryan Wetherell, PG, Cal State Los Angeles
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Wetherell is a speedy and tough competitor known for his hustle. He suited up for the University of Southern California (USC-NCAA Division I) and shared the floor in college with NBA veterans Nick Young of the LA Lakers, Milwaukee’s O.J. Mayo and Taj Gibson of Chicago.

He also had a brief stint in the NBA D-League as well as the ABA and has come to the Philippines to brandish his wares as a legit Filipino-American, as his mother is from Ilocos Sur.

Former PBA players, Vince Hizon and Nick Belaso, got a first-hand look at what the 27-year old Fil-am can do. They are unanimous in praising the talent level shown by Wetherell.

Wetherell reportedly dropped 27 first half points in one game of the fledgling Filsports Basketball League (FBA) in Angeles City early this year. Because of his performance, Wetherell silenced the home crowd and on occasion drawing “oohs” and “aahs” with his handles and quickness. His first-half performance was the most ever scored in the league in the first 20 minutes and it included 6/7 shooting from deep.

"He's special," Belasco exclaimed. "He's gonna shock a lot of people."

"He is soooo PBA ready," says Hizon.

Josan Nimes, SG, Mapua Institute of Technology
Nimes is formidable inside the court. His impressive performance at the 87th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball game created quite a stir and had pundits talking about the future of this rookie superstar.

The 6'3" guard/forward led MapĂșa Cardinals to a series of victories in 2011 NCAA season, including the team’s four straight wins. His points were so impressive that he defeated other strong contenders to the Rookie of the Year award.

This year, he is back with the Cardinals after sitting out two seasons due to injuries. The Filipino-Australian is currently averaging 19.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.7 assists for his team and he feels that he has improved as a leader.

"I'll say I'm a better leader, vocal leader now. I think in my rookie year, we had a lot of veterans. I was a little bit wild. I shoot everything. But now, I’m more of get my teammates involved. If everyone is happy, everyone's better. I've become a better leader and better ball distributor," said Nimes, who believes this year’s Cardinals roster has the ingredients to make it to the semifinals.

"I think our team is confident that we can make it to the Final Four," said Nimes

Jawhar Purdy, PG, Cal State Stanislaus University
Filipino-American guard Jawhar Purdy admits he is a playmaker at heart. However, the 23-year-old from Los Angeles says he can burn the hoops if tasked to do just that.

"I am a pass-first kind of player," Purdy, who stands a shade under six feet, told reporters. "But if you'll ask me to score, I can score," said Purdy, who played for a NCAA Division II school.

The former 100-meter dash champion during his days at the Saugus High School at the Foothill League in California said that his passion for basketball prompted him abandon the track oval and pursue instead his longtime dream of making it to the PBA.

"I just wanted to play basketball at a high level. The PBA has always been at the back of my mind. My mom and my relatives here have been telling me to play here," added the Kobe Bryant fan.

Purdy showed what he can do during the game between FEU-NRMF and Siargao Legends led by two-time PBA MVP Willie Miller during the DeLeague quarterfinals. He torched the opposition with seven three-pointers to finish the game with 29 points, and proved to be one of the bright spots in the team’s 88-75 loss to Siargao.

Kevin Racal, SF, Letran University
Kevin Racal is one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) unheralded stars. The 6-foot-3 wingman is an efficient scorer and dependable rebounder, who can give the Letran Knights stable leadership with the departure of veterans Kevin Alas and Jam Cortes.

The third-year swingman was sidelined the whole preseason due to a foot injury, but is still managed to averaged 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the Knights first two games.

In Letran's 77-68 win over Arellano, Racal exploded for 24 points including three three-pointers, as well as five rebounds as the fifth-year forward submitted his best game so far in the NCAA as the Knights strengthened their grip in first place of the league standings.

"We're so small, I'm using K-Racs (Racal) as a four when he usually plays two or three," Letran's rookie head coach Aldin Ayo explained.

"I'm blessed that he just accepts what role is given him and never complained or whined about it," he added.

Racal was discovered from the Coca Cola Hoopla tournament in 2010, where he won MVP honors and led Muntinlupa City to the title. His slashing plays earned him an average of 6.8 points in 2011.

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