So where are the hidden jewels in the NBA draft?
They may be right there in the second round.
Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, selected 36th last year, is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. It doesn’t mean the top picks were busts. Just young; some hurt and needing time to develop. But because teams look for so called “up side” in the draft with young, athletic prospects who could develop, the first round often becomes less certain. A lot of informed speculation, hope and guessing.
Players from overseas, like Paul Zipser last year for the Bulls, can develop more quickly having more experience. Plus, NBA teams generally adhere to a formula for top players, meaning they have to be the appropriate size for their NBA position and show specific NBA skills.
So undersized players like Isaiah Thomas and Draymond Green can fall to the second round and end up as All-Stars.
Consider these current NBA players in addition to Thomas and Green who were not first round selections: Manu Ginobii, Paul Millsap, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Khris Middleton, Kyle Korver, Danny Green, Patrick Beverley, Ersan Ilyasova. Trevor Ariza, Lou Williams, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside.
How about a team with Dragic and Thomas at guard, Millsap and Green at forward and Gasol, Jordan or Whiteside at center? With Middleton, Korver, Ariza, Ilyasova and Williams off the bench? Certainly sounds like a pretty good playoff team.
The Bulls have the eighth pick in the second round, No. 38, from the Sacramento Kings. That was the payment for the Luol Deng trade for the pick the Bulls obtained from Cleveland that was top 10 protected. The Kings just never get better. So in addition to No. 16 in the first round, the Bulls could add a useful player in the second round. Brogdon was sixth in the second round last year and Zipser was 48th overall.
Some of the popular names being mentioned in the second round include Frank Jackson of Duke, Frank Mason of Kansas, Alec Peters of Valparaiso, Josh Hart of Villanova, P.J. Dozier of South Carolina, Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State, Caleb Swanigan or Purdue and Monte Morris of Iowa State.
Here’s the Bulls’ draft all-Not First Round team:
Guards: Pete Myers and Chris Duhon.
Myers was a sixth round draft pick in 1986, 120th overall, who went on to play nine years in the NBA sandwiched around a few stops in Italy. He benefitted from the NBA’s desperation to find big guards to combat Magic Johnson since Pete was 6-6. Magic was safe, but Pete did beat out big time free agent Ron Harper for the post-Jordan 1994 Bulls who drew the bad call against the Finals bound Knicks. What could have been. Duhon was to be one of those stashed overseas guys in the 2004 draft when the Bulls scored with Ben Gordon and Luol Deng. But the feisty Duhon fought his way onto the team and in the rotation and played nine years in the NBA with a double figure scoring season with the Knicks among his four teams. They barely beat out defensive specialist Trenton Hassell form the 2001 draft and Roger Mason Jr. from 2002.
Forwards: Toni Kukoc and Rod Higgins
Kukoc, of course, was one of Jerry Krause’s greatest coups, 29th in 1990. It took a few years to get Kukoc from Europe, but he was a vital player in the 1996-1998 championship teams with his seven foot size, shooting and versatile play. His combined European and NBA resume since he was one of the most celebrated players in European history, makes him a worthy Hall of Fame candidate. Higgins was Michael Jordan’s closest friend on Jordan’s early Bulls team and went on to work for Jordan in Charlotte. In between, Higgins had a productive 13-year NBA career with seven teams, his best years with the Warriors as a tough sixth man averaging double figures off the bench in a five-year stretch. Zipser and Jack Haley get some consideration, Haley a fourth rounder in 1987. Also, Mark Landsberger in 1977.
Center: Mike Brown
Known as the brown bear, the bearish 6-9 center was a third round pick at No. 69 in 1985. He was the top Utah Jazz reserve center in the early 1990s and went five straight seasons without missing a game. It’s much farther back, so Clifford Ray missed the cut. But the Bulls third round pick in 1971 (40th) was involved in one of the most famous trades in Bulls history when the Bulls acquired Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond for Ray and Ray went on to help the Warriors defeat the Bulls on the way to the 1975 title. Ray is one of the few players in NBA history to have more rebounds than point scored. Some votes for Aaron Gray and Omer Asik, though not Dragan Tarlac.
So how about that NBA alltime team without a first rounder.? We know it’s a flawed process. The NFL knows with Tom Brady as well. And baseball’s best player may be Mike Trout taken with the 25th pick. It seems so much more certain in basketball. It’s not.
Guards: Nate “Tiny” Archibald and Mark Price.
Archibald is a Hall of Famer, the only player ever to lead the league in scoring and assists, though Westbrook could take a run at that one next. He was a second rounder in 1970, which then was No. 19. The Bulls famously had Archibald and Jimmy Collins as their choices and went for Collins at No. 11. Price isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame, but his pick and roll with Brad Daugherty and shooting were some of the best things in the NBA in the late 1980s. Injuries--—and Michael Jordan--knocked off those Cavs, whom many in the 1980s believed would do what the Bulls did in the 1990s. Price was the 25th pick in 1986 by Dallas and quickly moved to Cleveland. It’s a great class of second round guards with Mo Cheeks, World B. Free, Jeff Hornacek, Gilbert Arenas, Stephen Jackson, Danny Ainge, Michael Redd, Monta Ellis, Danny Green and Khris Middleton.
Forwards: Dennis Rodman and Alex English.
And now three of the four players are Hall of Famers. Rodman was taken 27th in 1986 and English 23rd in 1976. Rodman, of course, was on five title teams with the Bulls and Pistons and one of the best non center rebounders, certainly in the post-1980 era, as well as being an elite defender. English was the 23rd pick by the Bucks in 1976 trying to rebuild after trading Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was one of the great early era free agents, moving to the Pacers and then being traded to Denver for George McGinnis. English, one of the best ever mid range shooters, then went on to a Hall of Fame career with eight All-Star appearances and leading the NBA in scoring in 1983. There’s lower round success beyond them at forward including Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Eddie Johnson, Cliff Robinson and Rashard Lewis.
Center: Bill Laimbeer
You hate to admit this, though perhaps the most reviled player in NBA history was a key player for two Detroit title teams and was a four-time All-Star. Back in that day, the better big guys didn’t get past the first round much as building a team started big. Now it’s starts small and ends big. Which is why in this era you see guys like Hassan Whiteside, Marcin Gortat, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and Omer Asik out of the first round.
Is there a diamond this year in what often is a coal bin of a second round?