LeBron James and Stephen Curry continue to battle in the NBA finals, but for 28 others teams around the association they are focused on future championships. All teams hope to acquire superstars like James and Curry on their roster whether through free agency or the draft.
Some teams hope to attract such superstars through free agency, due to the appeal of their franchise, while others rely on high lottery picks. The Brooklyn Nets hold neither the cap flexibility nor draft position to immediately gain a high caliber player that they could build a franchise around.
However, the Nets hold pick #29 and #41. These positions are undesirable for collecting elite talent as the quality of players in the draft falls precipitously after the lottery and even in the late stages of the lottery.
The second round of the draft is generally littered with raw players. Players who teams hope and perhaps believe they can transform into impactful professionals under the correct tutelage. Second rounders struggle to make rosters early in their career and enjoy time in the D-League. Some players who stay in the league despite their second round label succeed, while others progress no farther than the D-League.
With this in mind, the rest of the article displays notable successes of players drafted in the middle of the second round (from pick (41-50) since the 2005 draft. Note: Notable failures of this group were too many to describe. T
hough there are few “busts” of the pool – mostly due to their limited expectations – many players no longer play in the league. Not all draft classes will be covered because there were not successes in each draft.
Pick #45: Lou Williams, SG – Philadelphia 76ers
Career averages: 11.9 PPG, 2.9 APG, 2 RPG
Last season averages: 15.5 PPG, 2.1 APG, 1.9 RPG
During his rookie season Williams only played 30 games. His sophomore campaign doubled the amount of games played for the 76ers, but experienced time in the D-League with the 76er’s affiliate, the Fort Worth Flyers. Until the 2009-2010 season Williams didn’t record a start. In his last season with the 76ers he finished second in Sixth Man of the Year Award voting.
Due to his handles and quickness he penetrates the paint with ease. When he arrives there finishing proves problematic due to his slight frame. His shooting accuracy fluctuates throughout a season, but when his game harmonises he can explode with large point production. The attacking nature with which he plays won him Sixth Man of the Year this season with the Toronto Raptors.
Pick #47: Paul Millsap, PF – Utah Jazz
Career averages: 13.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1 BPG
Last season averages: 16.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 0.9 BPG
A durable player, Millsap played every game in three of his first four seasons with the Jazz. After that he cemented himself as a starter alongside Al Jeferson. When starting he was relied on for rebounding, but struggled to find a role offensively. Replacing Carlos Boozer forced him into post-ups, where his limited size compared to other forwards exposed his skills.
Millsap left the Jazz in free agency after seven years, joining the Atlanta Hawks. Over the last two seasons Millsap has blossomed offensively and maintained his efficient rebounding. Listed as a power forward, Millsap presents interesting problems for defences. Lacking the strength and stature of a traditional power forward and the long range shooting of a stretch four, Millsap lies somewhere in between. Using his deceptive speed and finishing he gets to the rack and finishes well, but is capable of shooting from outside. His last two seasons with the Hawks resulted in All-Star appearances.
Pick #48: Marc Gasol, C – Los Angeles Lakers
Career averages: 14.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3 APG
Last season averages: 17.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG
Gasol is one of the associations’s best centers with great passing, impressive post moves and stout defense, but took time to develop. Before winning Defensive Player of the Year and appearing in two all-star games Gasol played in Spain, where his biggest obstacle was his conditioning. A year after he was drafted, which he spent in Spain, Marc Gasol was traded for his brother Pau Gasol in a perplexing move. Seemingly the Lakers acquired an All-Star, potent power forward for a center without distinct talents. Now the Grizzlies are reaping the rewards of the trade as Gasol – Marc that is – anchors their defense and offense. He fits in perfectly with the Grizzlies old school, post-up, physical style of play. Combined with his passing he facilitates his teammates, especially Zach Randolph in low-post, high-post situations.
Pick #45: Goran Dragic, PG – San Antonio Spurs
Career averages: 12.2 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.7 RPG
Last season averages: 16.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.5 RPG
Prior to the 2008 draft Dragic spent five years in Slovenia refining his game. Since then he played for the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and Miami Heat. A crafty finisher and solid shooter Dragic impresses offensively. In the 2014 season his skills recognized when he won the Most Improved Player award. Playing alongside Eric Bledsoe and under Jeff Hornacek allowed his game to flourish as he succeeds in fast tempo play where the paint is free to drive. His deadline day trade to the Miami Heat promised a playoff push before Chris Bosh’s blood clot, but should he return after free agency the Heat would be poised for playoff contention.
Pick #42: Patrick Beverley, PG – Los Angeles Lakers
Career averages: 8.9 PPG, 3 APG, 3.5 RPG
Last season averages: 10.1 PPG, 3.4 APG, 4.2 RPG
Spending four years bouncing around NBA teams, their D-League affiliates and teams internationally in Russia and Greece Beverley didn’t play until 2013. He played 41 games in the 2012 season and won a starting job the next year. Over the past two seasons Beverley established himself as an elite perimeter defender and one of the best at the position. His defensive style irritates opponents as he is aggressive, always looking for a steal. Defending a player the full length of the court is often a task Beverley burdens himself with.
On offense, he lacks ability, but James Harden compensates for that as Beverley does for Harden’s defense. Surgery on his left wrist prevented Beverley from finishing the regular season or participating in the playoffs, where Beverley would have been valued against Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.
Pick #46: Danny Green, SG – Cleveland Cavaliers
Career averages: 9.6 PPG, 1.5 APG, 3.3 RPG
Last season averages: 11.7 PPG, 2 APG, 4.2 RPG
Green only survived 20 games in his rookie season before getting waived. He spent time in the D-League with the Rino Bighorns and the Austin Toros before cementing a place on the San Antonio Spurs. In the 2012 season he earned a consistent starting role. As highlighted by his NBA Finals record for most three made with 27 Green’s speciality is shooting. Under the Spurs passing offense he receives many catch and shoot opportunities.
When he attempts to attack basket he either loses the ball or fails to penetrate. After receiving a pass when cutting he finishes consistently, but these scores are only possible with the Spurs as few teams pass and cut like them. He defends solidly despite his lack of lateral mobility.