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Arizona basketball: Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons are ‘sleeper prospects’ in 2017 NBA Draft

Allen’s defense and Simmons’ scoring could help them stick on NBA rosters — even if they’re not drafted

2016 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational - Butler v Arizona Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kadeem Allen isn’t expected to be selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t find himself on an NBA roster next season. called the 6-foot-3 guard a “sleeper prospect”, citing his potential as a defensive stopper.

Here’s what DX’s writers had to say:

“One of the best perimeter defenders in the NCAA during his two years under Sean Miller, Allen has all the makings of a stopper at the NBA level.

“The Hutchison Junior College transfer is tough, physical, long (6'9 wingspan) and more than happy to get under the skin of the opponent's best player, whether it's a one, two, or even a three at times. He has excellent feet, uses his body to contain penetration masterfully, and is as good of an on-ball charge-drawer as college basketball has seen in some time. He's active off the ball and willing to get on the floor for 50/50 balls. Offensively, the 24-year-old Allen is very limited but he's showing progress as a spot shooter, is a powerful athlete downhill in space, and plays within himself, operating as a ball mover in playmaking situations. Allen could fit in a Patrick Beverley style role, playing next to a big guard like James Harden, defending the opponent's best guard, spot shooting, playing off closeouts and moving the ball.”

Draft Express’ praise of Allen’s defense is unsurprising, given Sean Miller said Allen is one of the best defenders he’s ever coached, which says a lot considering he’s had the likes of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon, among others, on his rosters in the past.

“He’s one of the best defensive guards that you guys could ever watch,” Miller said of Allen. “I really mean that. I mean he does it on the ball. He does it against a variety of players. He’s not relegated to just guarding a point guard, or just guarding a two-guard. He can guard a 1, 2, or a 3. Off the ball, he makes plays as well.”

Arguably, Allen’s best defensive performance came against Washington’s Markelle Fultz, who is expected to be selected No. 1 overall.

Allen held Fultz to 16 points on 23 shots as the Wildcats took down the Huskies 77-66 in Tucson.

“In any single game, he’s capable of putting his team on his back and winning it,” Miller said after the game. “He had to shoot 23 times and he had 16 points, which I think anytime you can do that to a leading scorer, that helps you.”

That being said, hindering Allen’s chances of making an NBA roster is his inability to create offense in the halfcourt, per Draft Express (his age, 24, doesn’t help either).

“He lacks confidence in his three ball despite an improved senior season, doesn't have natural point or combo guard savvy/feel, and isn't overly advanced as a shot creator with the ball.”

Allen shot 36 percent from 3 in his junior season at Arizona and 42.7 percent from 3 in his senior season, but he only took 125 3s, so it’s not exactly a large sample size.

Meanwhile, he tallied 222 assists to 133 turnovers, giving him an unspectacular assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7 to 1.

Allen has drawn comparisons to Houston Rockets’ Patrick Beverley, who is a “3-and-D” point guard, which is seemingly the role Allen will have to master to stay in the NBA.

Simmons also a “sleeper”

Unlike Allen, Kobi Simmons is projected to be drafted in Thursday’s NBA Draft — well, depending on who you ask.

Draft Express previously projected Simmons would be selected 60th overall (the last pick of the draft), but now projects he will be undrafted.

Still, one CBS mock draft projects Simmons will go 57th overall to the Brooklyn Nets.

Draft Express believes Simmons is a “sleeper prospect” because of his potential as a “microwave scorer.”

For all of his flaws, Kobi Simmons is an elite athlete in terms of twitch, first step and leaping ability in space. His jab step is devastating and he showed flashes as a microwave scorer, going for 14 plus points ten times in the Wildcats' first 20 games. Although often playing a highly inefficient style, Simmons has a lifetime scoring average of 20.1 points per 40 and can get going in a hurry. He's not polished offensively, but he can glide to the rim off the bounce, finish with floaters, or create space off the dribble to get to his pull up on occasion. Simmons has quite a bit of work to do in terms of his ability to impact winning, but there is some potential value in 6'4.5 change of pace scoring guards who can go get a bucket.

Some of the flaws mentioned by Draft Express are Simmons’ “wavering” mentality, his inefficient style of basketball, and a lack of polish on offense.

He's a streaky shooter who doesn't like contact in the paint and has a long ways to go before being able to operate as a lead guard. Simmons is also very underwhelming on the defensive end, where, while very quick laterally, he avoids contact and really struggles versus size at 166 pounds, making him a one-position defender. Simmons is a long way from being able to help an NBA team, and he may need to bottom out first before his talent resurfaces.

Simmons averaged 8.7 points per game on 39.5 percent shooting, while connecting on 32.7 percent of his 3-point attempts in his lone season with the Arizona Wildcats.

The 2017 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 22 at 4 p.m. PST. It will be televised on ESPN.

Be sure to check out DraftExpress’ entire list of sleeper prospects.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire