HANG TIME WEST – The rookie drafted late in the first round, 20th or lower, who will have the biggest impact? Gorgui Dieng of the Timberwolves. Twenty-five or lower? Archie Goodwin in Phoenix, ahead of Reggie Bullock, who won’t play much this season in the crowded Clippers’ rotation, but can shoot and defend, will have a solid career and become a very good return on the investment.
But among second-rounders in the league this season, the real futures market, there are several possibilities who will do more than survive cuts based on updated rosters since the draft in June and summer league in July. With or without stops in the NBA Development League, they will actually last and contribute.
1. Jeff Withey, Pelicans: Withey will get a chance on a team lacking true centers. Four years at Kansas says he will be ready as the No. 39 pick. Anthony Davis, a power forward-center, is about to take off after battling injuries as a rookie, and Withey could become a valuable career backup who is mature and will defend and rebound.
2. Tony Mitchell, Pistons: Once considered a lottery possibility before falling to No. 37 when he played with such poor energy last season at North Texas, the original appeal remains. Mitchell is a stud athlete at power forward with a high ceiling. The Pistons can put him on the Andre Drummond Plan that worked well, bringing Mitchell along slowly behind Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith in the big-man rotation.
3. Isaiah Canaan, Rockets: Minutes will be very tough to find in Houston in 2013-14 -– probably more like impossible –- with Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley and Aaron Brooks at point guard, but it’s still easy to see Canaan having a long career as a backup after going No. 34. He is a smart and tough leader who would have been able to run an NBA offense last season while at Murray State.
4. Nate Wolters, Bucks: The 38th pick will begin the season behind Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour at point guard, a tough climb. But Wolters is a very good ball handler, has a high basketball IQ that allows him to get to the rim despite a lack of athleticism, and is 6-4. If he can keep up on defense, a real question, he will be in the league.
5. Ricky Ledo, Mavericks: Ledo will probably have a very small role, if that, and spend most of 2013-14 in the D-League. Long term, though, he is intriguing, a shooting guard with size (6-7) who can create for himself and deliver the ball to others. That’s worth the No. 43 pick.