Second Round Primarily Yields Role Players, Projects

Second Round Primarily Yields Role Players, Projects
By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer
June 16, 2011

Looking for an All-Star in the second round of the NBA Draft? The odds are stacked against you. If you scan the results of the past seven June drafts, none of the 210 players who’ve been chosen in Round 2 have made an All-Star appearance (2003 second-rounder Mo Williams was the last player to pull off the feat).

As the Hornets make preparations to pick 45th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft on Thursday, June 23, they’re realistic enough to understand that uncovering a franchise-changing prospect in the middle of the second round is unlikely. That doesn’t mean, however, that a gem or two won’t be there for the taking. In the past half-decade alone, there have been several impact players taken after the 45th pick, including Western Conference frontcourt starters Paul Millsap (No. 47 in 2006) and Marc Gasol (No. 48 in 2006).

“Guys have (been picked) in the last part of the second round (like) Millsap and (Manu) Ginobili, but guys like that are rare,” Hornets head coach Monty Williams said. “(With late second-round picks), normally the guy doesn’t make your team or hang around long, but that’s why we (scout and prepare). We want to find a guy in that position who can help us. We don’t want to waste that pick.”

Although the second round is often an afterthought to fans and the media on draft night, teams that successfully capitalize on their chances to find lesser-known prospects often benefit considerably, both short- and long-term. In addition to the acquisitions of Gasol and Ginobili, the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs each had recent second-round picks in their starting lineups during a first-round West playoff series. In 2009, the Grizzlies picked Sam Young 36th overall, followed immediately by the Spurs’ selection of DeJuan Blair at No. 37.

New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, who is intimately familiar with San Antonio’s recent success at the draft, said the Hornets will not select for positional need, instead picking the player with the most likelihood to be a quality pro.

“You try to go for best player available,” Demps said of entering the 2011 draft with the 45th pick but no first-rounder. “We’ve looked at every statistic, as far as guys who make it (in the NBA) in the second round, what’s the probability and what type of guys make it.

“But I don’t think there is really a science to it. I think some of it is a little luck. Some of it is if the second-round pick gets the opportunity to play. But for us, we’re going to look for the best player available.”

While Southwest Division rivals Memphis and San Antonio benefited from obtaining eventual starters early in Round 2, the latter portion of the round (picks 45 through 60) has often yielded productive backups. Over the past five years, Goran Dragic (No. 45 in 2008), Aaron Gray (No. 49 in 2007), Leon Powe (No. 49 in 2006), A.J. Price (No. 52 in 2009), Patrick Mills (No. 55 in 2009), Ramon Sessions (No. 56 in 2007) and Semih Erden (No. 60 in 2008) each fit that description.

Partly due to the uncertainty of talent that may be available at No. 45 in the draft this year, the Hornets recently held a large free-agent workout that consisted of 16 players, some of whom already possess NBA experience. With relatively few players under contract for 2011-12, Demps said New Orleans will be resourceful in trying to upgrade its talent.

“We’re looking under every rock,” Demps said after the free-agent workout. “We’re looking for guys that can help us. There’s a possibility that these (free-agent workout invitees) are better than the 45th pick in the draft. If they are, we want to make sure we give them that opportunity. We’re not going to rest on the things we did last season. We’re going to keep trying to find ways to improve the team.”

The NBA’s 45th pick, 2000-2010

2010 Paulo Prestes
Brazilian played overseas in 2010-11 but reportedly may come to Timberwolves next season.
2009 Nick Calathes
Florida product was drafted despite signing a three-year contract to play overseas in ‘09. NBA rights are now owned by Dallas.
2008 Goran Dragic
San Antonio
Native of Slovenia has emerged as quality backup point guard, highlighted by playoff scoring barrage vs. Spurs while with Suns in 2010.
2007 Jared Jordan
L.A. Clippers
Point guard has spent time overseas, in D-League, NBA summer leagues and training camp, including appearing in two preseason games with Hornets in 2008.
2006 Alexander Johnson
Played in a total of 102 regular season games for the Grizzlies and Heat during 2006-07 and 2007-08, starting 25 times.
2005 Louis Williams
One of the NBA’s premier sixth men, he averaged 13.7 points per game in 2010-11 despite coming off the bench in each of his 75 appearances.
2004 Tim Pickett
New Orleans
Florida State product did not make the Hornets’ 2004-05 roster. He signed to play in Israel during the 2010-11 season.
2003 Matt Bonner
After one year overseas, the dangerous three-point shooter has been a key member of rotations in Toronto and San Antonio. Started 67 times for Spurs in 2008-09.
2002 Sam Clancy Jr.
The son of a former NFL defensive end, the USC product missed 2002-03 to injury and never played an NBA official game. Played last season in Israel.
2001 Loren Woods
Center from Arizona amassed 215 games played and 47 starts over six NBA seasons, suiting up for Wolves, Heat, Raptors and Rockets.
2000 Jabari Smith
Louisiana State product played parts of four seasons in NBA, topped by 45 appearances for the New Jersey Nets in 2004-05.

*BOLD indicates active NBA player

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