Beyond the Big 3, draft has plenty of other stars in the making

Aaron Gordon's shooting needs some work, but he's a freakish athlete and a hard worker whose attributes compare favorably with Blake Griffin at a similar age.

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With the NBA Draft now a week away, mock drafts are bursting out all over.

FOX Sports’ college basketball analyst Reid Forgrave offered up his latest edition here, and it earmarks UCLA guard Zach LaVine as the No. 14 pick for the Suns, North Carolina State scoring forward T.J. Warren at No. 18, and UCLA tweener Kyle Anderson at No. 27. Now nobody really expects the Suns to keep all three picks, but it offers a general sense of what kind of talent will be available when they’re on the clock.

Forgrave also sees Arizona forward Aaron Gordon going to the Boston Celtics with the No. 6 pick, saying his motor, basketball IQ and unselfishness are perfect for Celts’ coach Brad Stevens.

Forgrave offers up more on Gordon today, calling him one of five great value picks based on where they are likely to be slotted in. Here’s Forgrave’s rationale:

NBA Draft

Entering the college basketball season, Gordon was one of the "Fab Freshmen"€ who was grabbing all the hype, along with Wiggins, Parker and Kentucky’€™s Julius Randle. So how could he be considered a sleeper? Because in another year, another situation, Gordon could easily be the No. 1 overall pick –€” yet I haven’€™t seen any mock drafts having Gordon higher than where I have him, going to the Boston Celtics with the sixth pick. Two things give teams pause with Gordon: One is that his shooting needs some serious improvement; the other is that at six-foot-nine, he’€™s a little short for someone whose skill set would make him a power forward in the NBA. Here’€™s the thing about Gordon, though: He is that rare combination of a freakish athlete who is grounded, mature, a hard worker and who focuses on the little parts of the game. In short, Gordon is a coach’€™s dream, which is why I think having him go to Brad Stevens’€™ Celtics is a perfect fit. Though his college stats in his one season at Arizona weren’€™t eye-popping, averaging 12.4 points and 8.0 rebounds, he was the reason Arizona had the nation’€™s most efficient defense. He was frenetic, guarding the perimeter as well as he guarded the post, crashing the boards and getting steals. He’€™s the glue guy who could develop into an All-Star. The player he is most often compared to is Blake Griffin. That’€™s a bit of overhype, considering Gordon’€™s strength isn’€™t in the same league as Griffin’€™s, but one veteran coach who has tracked Gordon’€™s progress for years told me Gordon is further in his development than Griffin was at the same age.

As an added bonus, Forgrave also lists ASU center Jordan Bachynski as a "deep sleeper" and potential second-round steal of the Lance Stephenson, Chandler Parsons ilk:

He’s seven-foot-two and was one of the top shot blockers in college basketball last season. He’€™s old (24) and needs to add strength, but one college coach at the Combine told me he was as impressed by Bachynski’s performance as any center there. (Joel Embiid did not attend.)

Click here for a complete rundown of Forgrave’s sleeper watch.