All-Gold Strike Team: Ten second-round picks who hit it big over the last decade
2. Don’t expect a star. While GMs make memorable mistakes all the time (Greg Oden over Kevin Durant, Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry, etc.), the collective group of 30 executives and their scouting staffs don’t often completely miss on a budding A-list talent. The last 10 drafts have produced exactly two second-round picks who went on to earn All-Star selections — Marc Gasol and Millsap — and zero players who have earned multiple All-Star selections.
Indeed, of the 76 players who have made an All-Star team between 2005 and 2014, only eight were second-round picks (Ginobili, Millsap, Gasol, Carlos Boozer, Mo Williams, Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas and Mehmet Okur). One other All-Star (Ben Wallace) went undrafted. Who made up the rest of the All-Stars? A jaw-dropping 53 lottery picks and 14 non-lottery first-round selections. To underline this point, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has more All-Star Game selections over the last decade (10) than all currently-active second-round picks combined (Ginobili, Millsap, Gasol, Boozer, Williams and Lewis combine for 9).
One might argue that an All-Star selection can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as players with greater name recognition — a quality boosted by a spot in the lottery or high-level performance in high school and college — have a built-in advantage over second-round talents. One recent example: Goran Dragic, a second-round pick, was passed over for an All-Star spot this season by lottery picks like Davis and Damian Lillard.
It’s a fair point, but any such snubbing seems to be happening on the margins. The second-round picks who have maintained the highest average PER for multiple seasons include Nikola Pekovic (19.2), Millsap (18.9), Isaiah Thomas (18.8), Gasol (18) and Lou Williams (17.1); all are quality players but none can really claim to have been habitually overlooked in favor of less-deserving, higher-profile players. Further, Gasol is the only active second-round pick who can really be regarded as a superstar caliber player right now.
3. Finding immediate-impact contributors isn’t easy. Hoping that your tanking team will be able to plug-and-play second-round picks into the rotation for a quick turnaround next season? It’s probably smart to pump the brakes on that idea. Entering Tuesday’s action, the 30 second-round picks from the 2013 draft had averaged just 93.7 minutes played for their entire rookie seasons.
That number, which breaks down to less than two minutes per game to date, actually overstates the impact of this year’s second-round class. Sixteen 2013 second-round picks have yet to take the court this season and only seven players from this group have managed to log at least 100 minutes. Some of that can be explained by teams drafting international players and stashing them overseas, but talent and readiness are major factors, too.
This year’s top minutes-earners — Nate Wolters, Ryan Kelly, and Lorenzo Brown — are all plying their trades for truly bad teams, and it’s fair to say that there are zero 2013 second-round picks who have made a real impact for playoff-bound squads this season. Year Two is, as you would expect, more promising: Seven 2012 second-round picks — Jeff Taylor, Jae Crowder, Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Will Barton, Mike Scott and Kyle O’Quinn — have all already logged at least 1,000 career minutes and have shown varied degrees of potential in doing so.
There are only so many ways you can write “keep your expectations in check” without getting redundant. Here’s one final note for the road: Of the 150 second-round picks from 2009 through 2013, just four have so far proven to be strong, dependable starters and/or standout postseason performers: Chandler Parsons, Thomas, Lance Stephenson, and Danny Green. There are a host of other capable rotation players — Scott, Green, Patrick Beverley, DeJuan Blair, Marcus Thornton, Kyle Singler, Dante Cunningham, and Chase Budinger, among others — but the last five years worth of drafts have produced about one solid gold strike per year, if that.
4. The pickings get even slimmer after pick 45. The bottom half of the second round is a who’s who of hard-to-pronounce names who have left little impact on the NBA. Remember that time Vladimir Veremeenko (No. 48 in 2006) exploded for 35 against the Lakers? Or, when Izzet Turkyilmaz (No. 50 in 2012) messed around and got a triple-double? Or, when Chukwudiebere Maduabum (No. 56 in 2011) and Tanguy Ngombo (taken one spot after Maduabum) traded buckets down the stretch at Madison Square Garden? Of course not. None of those things happened because none of those guys has ever sniffed the league.
All told, 71 of the 150 players selected from spots 46 to 60 over the last 10 years have never played in a single NBA game. Only 10 players taken in this range — Millsap, Gasol, Amir Johnson, Marcin Gortat, Ramon Sessions, Ryan Gomes, Andray Blatche, Thomas and Green — have compiled at least 10 career Win Shares. That’s a marked difference from the top half of the second round, where only 27 of the 150 players selected from 31 to 45 have failed to appear in the NBA, and where 30 players (including the likes of Anderson Varejao, Monta Ellis, Williams, Dragic, and Parsons) have compiled at least 10 career Win Shares.
The takeaway: hitting pay dirt with the likes of Millsap (No. 47 in 2006), Gasol (No. 48 in 2007) and Thomas (No. 60 in 2011) can happen even as draft night drags into its closing stages, but the bust rate increases considerably along the way.
5. Don’t draft any one named “Ricky” in the second round. Just don’t do it! The four players named Ricky (the Rickies?) drafted in the second round over the last decade — Ledo (2013), Minard (2004), Paulding (2004) and Sanchez (2005) — have combined to play just 33 minutes total. Although no name has been truly foolproof, “Ryan” has been solid: Gomes (2005), Hollins (2006), Kelly (2013), Reid (2010) and Richards (2010) have combined to play more than 19,000 minutes over 18 seasons.
Staying away from “Sergei” and the alternate spelling of “Sergiy” is smart, too, as Karaulov (2004), Lishouk (2004) and Gladyr (2009) all failed to make it to the league.