Not all second-rounders are long shots

VIDEO: The Starters pick the best all time second-rounders

Summer League begins Saturday in Orlando, and so does the climb for many of its players.

Most of the second-rounders drafted last Thursday will play at the Magic facility or the larger Las Vegas gathering next week at two UNLV sites, except for prospects nursing injuries or staying overseas. Many of the 30 picked without the certainty of a guaranteed contract will stick on opening-night rosters in the fall, even if most of their real action will come in the D-League. And some will even build full careers as real contributors, more than riding the bubble from season to season.

The buildup was true and the 2014 draft turned out to have the kind of depth that could produce legit players, not just sparring partners for practice, in the second round. It was the draft where several prospects being mentioned beforehand by front offices as first-round possibilities fell into the bottom 30, making those players sleepers to make an impact.

The five with the best chance to last:

1. K.J. McDaniels, 32nd pick, 76ers

The concern is that he is slightly undersized for a small forward at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds. The counter is, though, what an athlete. He’s a player being able to jump over an opponent — any opponent. Beyond the physical gifts, the Clemson product can be, as SMU coach Larry Brown suggested, a human stat sheet — not putting up flashy numbers any one place but piling up points, rebounds and blocks in a way that means a contribution in several different areas. Some teams believe he can develop into a defensive presence against small forwards, shooting guards and even some point guards.

2. Glenn Robinson III, 40th pick, Timberwolves

It’s about the attitude. If Big Dog’s son has the same passive approach that cost him the chance to take over at Michigan following the departure of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., his ceiling is role player at best. If GRIII learns to play with intensity, though. the small forward will have a better career than a lot of players picked 15 or 20 spots higher. Especially if he also adds range to his shot.

3. Jarnell Stokes, 35th pick, Grizzlies

Drafted by Utah and traded to Memphis, Stokes can become an inside presence, a power forward who will generate rebounds, especially offensive boards, with strength and also make passes from the post. He is coming off a leading role on Tennessee’s run to the Sweet 16 and as a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the under-19 world championships, part of a trajectory that indicates a player that continues to improve.

4. Cameron Bairstow, 49th pick, Bulls

The other Australian in the Dante Exum draft. Bairstow will be dependable and solid on several fronts, a power forward-center with a nice mid-range shot, an improving post game and a drive to get better. And he will do it with a motor constantly running in the red. That’s a lot of possibilities. If he proves he can defend NBA bigs, he has a nice future.

5. Walter Tavares, 43rd pick, Hawks

Tavares is a project — a 22-year-old, 7-foot-3 center who has only been playing since 2009 — worth the ride to the end. A 7-9 wingspan and some teams rating him in low-to-mid 30s is convincing like that. He has already progressed to being a shot blocker and general defensive presence. Imagine if he becomes more comfortable on offense. Imagine what even a single season of NBA practices and conditioning program will do. Just imagine.

A few others: Semaj Christon, 55th pick, Thunder. A wild card, emphasis on wild, who can be something if he harnesses the great speed and cut down on ball-handling mistakes. … Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 51st pick, Knicks. Not the level of prospect of younger brother Giannis, but a possible versatile defender. … Spencer Dinwiddie, 38th pick, Pistons. It’s tough to get a read on where he is after knee surgery kept him from workouts and will sideline him from Summer League, but the Colorado guard would have been a strong candidate for the first round if healthy.

17 Comments

  1. johnny g says:

    I say Nick Johnson out of Arizona PAC 10 Player Of The Year last year and drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 42nd over all pick. He has a good overall game and just needs to be a more consistent shooter.He is a very good defensive player and is smart.

  2. Carlo says:

    While everybody discuss 1st picks the Spurs quietly get along building the next Manu Ginobili…

  3. algonquinmatt says:

    reporters were saying that the Bulls were pumped to get Bairstow and were ready to trade up to grab him except that their insiders predicted that he would fall to them. If he can play, it looks like the Bulls had a nice draft.

  4. sunny says:

    cleanthony early???

  5. Ballin all day says:

    my top 5 2nd rounders looks alot different then that…
    1 Cleanthony Early
    2 Russ Smith (undersized)
    3 Markel Brown ( undersized)
    4 K.J. MCDaniels
    5 Walter Tavares

    Russ got killed for being short.. Not based off of talent by a long shot… All those slashers aka 6’6 / 6’7 guys that got drafted in the first round tried to stick Russ in the tournament and he lit them up… He dropped buckets every night at louisville..Size isn’t everything.. Same with Markel Brown that guy can shoot and has stupid athleticism..He plays and dunks like he is 6’7..Originally i thought he was much talller based off of how he plays.. And I am the first to write off glen robinson III… He is not hungry and doesnt have that killer instinct/ scorers mentality his father had… Short guys dont get drafted these days,,, The game is evolving and everyone is stuck on size and having a combo guard at point.. ( another sg at point…lol) The Allen Iverson days are over, everyone wants size to the point that they couldnt recognize a beast in shabazz napier after he destroyed future top draft picks from kentucky etc… Body of work doesnt count for as much as it used to…Its all about size and the right fit now, but talent will always make it…

    • youngsieg856 says:

      True very well put. This thing about size and “upside” because of size and athleticism is killing me its way too many late picks with lottery talent because of that concept. Last year’s college season was dominated by the little guys. If LeBron stays in Miami shabazz will be a big reason why I can’t believe they let him go there.

    • youngsieg856 says:

      Umm? K.j. McDaniels that’s a given he’ll probably start in philly but where’s Cleanthony early? Russ Smith? Jordan Clarkson? Markel brown? These kids are all first round talents but because of this epidemic that every team wants size they fell so late. Last year’s college season was dominated by the little guys and I can’t believe they let shabazz get to Miami. If LeBron stays he’ll be the #2 reason(besides a max contract).

  6. James says:

    Don’t sleep on Lamar Patterson. 2nd team all ACC behind Hood. I don’t know how his game will translate to the NBA; but he will have his way against summer league and d-league competition.

    Hawks summer league squad is probably going to be a beast, provided Schroeder does not have a one to one turn over ratio ;)

  7. ChrisJ1984 says:

    Russ Smith!?!?
    A tenacious defender and one of the best scoring guards in college for the past two years.

  8. harrythehawk says:

    Go Tavares! Representing Cape Verdeans!!! Let’s Go Hawks!

  9. qqq says:

    what the hell, where is Cleanthony Early this guy is a flat out steal for a second round pick.

    He should top that list.

  10. Ali says:

    Cleanthony Early

  11. Markus71 says:

    McDaniels is Undersized? Looks like He’d match up o.k. alongside Kawhi. Starter!

  12. Dinwittie?????? He’s hurt but those do heal as Petersen proved, rushing for 2,000 yards, after an ACL tear healed.

  13. Noter says:

    Manu Ginoblii so true.

  14. ballhawkjr says:

    Cleanthony Early???