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NBA AM: Predicting The Next Second Round All-Stars

Since 2008, there have been three second round picks to reach All-Star status. Who will be the next?

Lang Greene

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The NBA Draft is a crapshoot. Sure, there are a few league executives that constantly strike gold in the draft, but there are plenty of whiffs up and down the board—no matter the shot caller.

Every player in the annual draft pool comes equipped with their own set of risks and there have been very few surefire selections over the past 25 years. This is just evaluating first round picks. Attempting to select a second round pick that could potentially develop into a nightly rotation player is an even bigger undertaking.

Making it to the NBA requires extreme talent and nuanced skill, but this is just the beginning. To carve out a niche and survive multiples seasons in the league takes the ability to adjust to new environments, block out distractions and ultimately accepting a smaller role.

Today, we’ll take a look at second round picks since 2008 that not only survived the land of non-guaranteed deals, but managed to reach All-Star status. We’ll also take a look at a few second round picks that are on the verge of an All-Star selection. We have excluded the 2017 draft class from this report.

For starters, consider the following when evaluating second round picks selected between 2008 and 20016:

  • Since 2008, there have been only three players selected in the second round that have reached All-Star status (Isaiah Thomas, Draymond Green and DeAndre Jordan).
    • This translates into 1.1 percent of draft picks during this span (three out of 270)
  • In fact, 27.4 percent of second round picks (74 out of 270) during this span have yet to appear in a NBA regular season contest.

Considering these facts, it would appear highly unlikely for a former second pick to rise to stardom, but it isn’t impossible. There are a few players that could potentially add the “All-Star” accomplishment to their mantle as soon as this season.

Previous Second Round Pick All-Stars

Isaiah Thomas, Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers
Draft Status:
No. 60 overall, 2011
Accomplishments: All-Star (2x), All-NBA (1x)

Thomas was the last player selected in 2011 and is coming off a career season where he averaged 28.9 points per game and led the Boston Celtics to over 50 victories. Thomas was traded to Cleveland this summer and figures to be an integral part of their rotation when his injured hip fully heals.

DeAndre Jordan, Center, Los Angeles Clippers
Draft Status:
No. 35 overall, 2008
Accomplishments: All-Star (1x), All-Defensive (2x), All-NBA (3x)

Jordan has been remarkably durable throughout his career and hasn’t averaged below 13.6 rebounds in any season since 2014. Jordan has also finished the past three seasons shooting over 70 percent from the field.

Draymond Green, Forward, Golden State Warriors
Draft Status:
No. 35 overall, 2012
Accomplishments: All-Star (2x), All-Defensive (3x), All-NBA (2x), Defensive Player of the Year (1x), NBA Champion (2x)

The term “Future Hall of Famer” might be applied too loosely in Green’s case, but the former second round pick has undoubtedly outperformed all expectations since entering the league. The Warriors don’t show any signs of slowing down and Green will continue to play a pivotal role on both sides of the ball on a team that just might be the next NBA dynasty.

Potential First Time All-Stars, Former Second Round Picks

Goran Dragic, Guard, Miami HEAT
Draft Status:
No. 45 overall, 2008
Accomplishments: All-NBA (1x), Most Improved Player (2014)

Dragic, 31, still has the potential to make an All-Star run. Last season, the veteran floor general averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 73 contests. Dragic has a featured role in Miami’s offense and the green light to score the ball. With Thomas reportedly to miss the beginning of the regular season, Dragic may be in line to benefit.

Khris Middleton, Guard, Milwaukee Bucks
Draft Status:
No. 39 overall, 2012
Accomplishments: N/A

Middleton’s teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker get the headlines, but the veteran wing has established himself as an efficient double-digit scorer. Middleton averaged 18.2 points per game in 2016 before injuries limited him to just 29 contests in 2017. With Parker expected to miss significant time rehabbing from knee surgery, Middleton could be in for an even larger role in the Bucks’ offense.

Hassan Whiteside, Center, Miami HEAT
Draft Status:
No. 33 overall, 2010
Accomplishments: All-Defensive (1x)

The traditional center is a dying breed, but Whiteside’s dominance on the low block cannot be underestimated. Whiteside averaged 17 points, 14 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season in 77 contests. With Miami eyeing a return to the playoffs, even more will be expected from the sixth year center.

Nikola Jokic, Center, Denver Nuggets
Draft Status:
No. 41 overall, 2014
Accomplishments: All-Rookie (2016)

The future of the Denver Nuggets franchise is bright and a lot of this optimism is driven by the presence of Jokic. The third year big man averaged 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Those numbers rose to 17.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game as a starter. The offseason addition of All-Star forward Paul Millsap should allow Jokic to make another leap this season.

* * * * * *

Between now and February, a lot of basketball will be played. It certainly will be interesting to see which of those mentioned above make their first All-Star appearance—be it this season or next.

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The Case for Upperclassmen in the NBA Draft

College upperclassmen are becoming increasingly viable options in the NBA Draft, writes David Yapkowitz.

David Yapkowitz

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Each year when the NBA draft comes around, there seems to be an aversion to taking upperclassman with a top selection. More specifically, it’s college seniors who often find themselves getting drafted in the second-round if at all.

It can be understandable. NBA teams are clearly looking for a home run pick with a lottery selection. They’re looking for a player who they can build a foundation around for years to come. College seniors often project as solid role players to strengthen a team once that foundational superstar is already in place.

However, recent years have seen the entire first round dominated almost entirely by freshmen and sophomores. In 2017, a college senior wasn’t drafted until the San Antonio Spurs took Derrick White with the 29th pick. The Los Angeles Lakers followed that up with Josh Hart. Hart ended up having a better rookie season than a few of the underclassmen taken ahead of him.

A few other upperclassmen, Frank Mason III, a senior, and Dillon Brooks, a junior, both had better rookie seasons than many of the freshmen taking before them as well. Junior Semi Ojeleye is playing a major role for the Boston Celtics who are in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In 2016, Malcolm Brogdon, another college senior, was taken in the second-round with the 36th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. He went on to win the Rookie of the Year award and was a starter for a playoff team.

Senior Tyrone Wallace was taken with the last pick in the draft at No. 60 that year. When a rash of injuries hit the Los Angeles Clippers this season, Wallace stepped in right away as a starter at times and helped keep the team afloat in the playoff picture.

There were a few college seniors that went undrafted in 2016, players such as Fred VanVleet Yogi Ferrell that have had better NBA careers to this point that a lot of the underclassmen taken ahead of them.

This isn’t to say that NBA teams should completely abandon taking young, underdeveloped players in the first-round. The Spurs took Dejounte Murray, a freshman point guard, over Brogdon, Wallace, VanVleet and Ferrell. That’s worked out well for them. It’s more a testament to having a good front office and scouting team than anything else.

But maybe NBA teams should start expanding their horizons when it comes to the draft. There appears to be a stigma of sorts when it comes to upperclassmen, particularly college seniors. If a guy can play, he can play. Of course, college production is often not the best means of judging NBA success, but it does count for something.

With the 2018 NBA draft about one month away, there are a few interesting names to look at when it comes to college seniors. Players such as Devonte’ Graham from Kansas, Theo Pinson from North Carolina, Chandler Hutchinson from Boise State, Jevon Carter from West Virginia and Bonzie Colson from Notre Dame are all guys that should be on NBA team’s radars.

Sure, none of those guys are going to turn into a superstar or even an All-Star. But you’re probably going to get a player that becomes a solid contributor for years to come.

Again, it’s understandable when teams take projects in the lottery. After a long season of losing, and in some cases years of losing, ownership and the fanbase are hungry for results. They don’t want a top pick to be used on a player that projects as only a solid contributor.

But after the lottery, the rest of the draft gets a little murky. A good front office will find an NBA caliber player whether he’s a freshman or a senior. The NBA Draft isn’t an exact science. Nothing is ever for sure and no player is guaranteed to become the player they’re projected to be.

College upperclassmen tend to be more physically developed and mentally mature for the NBA game. If what you’re looking for is someone who will step right in and produce for a winning team, then instead of wasting a pick on the unknown, it might be better to go with the sure thing.

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NBA Daily: Are the Houston Rockets in Trouble?

Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals may have been the perfect storm for Houston, writes Shane Rhodes.

Shane Rhodes

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The Houston Rockets took a gut punch from the Golden State Warriors, but they responded in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

After they dropped the first game of the series, Houston evened things up at one apiece Wednesday night with a 127-105 blowout win over Golden State. With the Warriors struggling on the offensive end and Houston rebounding from a less than stellar Game 1, the Rockets rolled through the game with relative ease.

But was their improved demonstration a fluke? While fans may not want to hear it, Game 2 may have been the perfect storm for Houston.

The Rockets’ gameplan didn’t change much from Game 1 to 2. They attacked Steph Curry relentlessly on the offensive end, James Harden and Chris Paul took plenty of shots in isolation and their role players got shots to drop that just weren’t going down in Game 1. Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker exploded for 68 points while shooting 66.7 percent from three after scoring just 24 the previous game. The trio averaged only 35.8 points collectively during the regular season.

Meanwhile, Golden State couldn’t buy a bucket; starting Warriors not named Kevin Durant scored just 35 points. Curry shot just 1-8 from downtown while Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguadola combined for just 19 points while shooting 35 percent from the floor. All of that will undoubtedly change.

So, going back to Oakland for Game 3, where do the Rockets find themselves? Not in a great place, unfortunately.

Golden State did their job: they stole a game — and home-court advantage — from the Rockets at the Toyota Center. Now, as the series shifts back to Oracle Arena and, assuming the Warriors return to form in front of their home crowd, Houston will have their work more than cut out for them. If Curry, Thompson and Durant all have their shot falling, there isn’t much the Rockets can do to keep up

The Warriors, aside from Curry, played great team defense in Game 2, something that will likely continue into Game 3. The Rockets hit plenty of tough, contested shots — shots that won’t drop as they move away from the energy of the home crowd and shots that Golden State would gladly have Houston take again and again and again. Harden and Paul didn’t exactly bring their A-game in Game 2 either — the two combined for a solid 43 points but took an inefficient 38 shots to get there. If the two of them play like that at Oracle, the Warriors will abuse them in transition, something that can’t happen if the Rockets want to steal back the home-court advantage.

The aforementioned trio of Gordon, Ariza and Tucker are unlikely to replicate their Game 2 performance as well, and relying on them to do so would be foolish on the part of Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni. Devising a game plan that will keep the offense moving while not leaning heavily on the role players will be of the utmost importance — if the offense returns to the bogged down effort that Houston gave in Game 1, the Rockets stand no chance.

Meanwhile, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will likely adjust his defense in an effort to limit the Rockets effectiveness in the isolation while also trying to find somewhere to hide Curry on the defensive end. It almost certainly won’t be the same sets that Houston throttled in Game 2 which will take another toll on the Rockets offense, especially if they fail to execute.

Not everything looks bad for Houston, however. Faced with a do-or-die scenario, Harden, Paul and co. were the more aggressive team from the jump. Pushing the pace flustered the Warriors and forced some pretty bad turnovers consistently throughout the night. If they come out with the same kind of energy and pace, the Rockets could have Golden State on their heels as they did in Game 2.

Budding star Clint Capela also has plenty of room to improve his game, as he has averaged just 8.5 points and eight rebounds through the first two games of the series — the Rockets need him to play his best basketball of the season if they want a chance to win.

Still, the Warriors are virtually unbeatable at home. The team has lost three games this postseason, just four times over their last two playoff trips and not once at Oracle, making the Rockets’ task even more daunting than it already was. Like Game 2, Game 3 should be played as a do-or-die situation for the Rockets because, if they don’t come out with the same aggressive, up-tempo energy, things could be over quickly.

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NBA Daily: Hope Not Lost for Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks were the lottery’s biggest losers, but VP of basketball operations Michael Finley still believes the team will land an elite talent.

Joel Brigham

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Dallas Mavericks vice president of basketball operations Michael Finley knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the draft process. In 2018, he’s an executive for the third-worst team in the league that somehow slipped to the fifth overall pick in Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery, but in 1995 he was a kid from the University of Wisconsin hoping to get drafted.

Finley was a first-round pick that summer, ironically selected by the Phoenix Suns, who won the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft earlier this week, but he says he doesn’t even remember the lottery. The lottery wasn’t the event then that it has since become.

“The lottery wasn’t this big when I was in the draft,” Finley told Basketball Insiders. “I don’t even remember how the lottery process played out when I was coming out of college. It’s grown so much, but the league has grown. It’s good for fans, and it’s good for people to get excited about this process.”

Of course, the irony in getting excited about a draft pick isn’t lost on him.

“It’s kind of weird that [fans] are celebrating the losing process, isn’t it?”

Not surprisingly, Finley wasn’t especially thrilled to see his team fail to reap the rewards of a Dallas Mavericks season that was stepped in that losing process. The lottery odds will change next year, and Finley believes that’s a good thing.

“It’s a good thing to change the system a little,” he says. “It will help keep the integrity of the game intact, especially toward the end of the year. It also will be even more suspenseful than these lottery events have been in the past.”

That’s next year, though. This year, the Mavericks are tasked with finding an elite player at a pick lower than they expected. Finley’s trying to look at things optimistically.

“It could have been sixth,” he said. “It’s still in the top five, and going on what we did this season, we don’t want to be in this position next year, so hopefully the guy we pick at #5 will get us out of the lottery and back into the playoffs.”

In fact, having that selection doesn’t preclude the team from finding a star, especially in a draft this loaded. Most agree that Luka Doncic and DeAndre Ayton are the prizes of the draft, but there are other guys available with All-Star potential. Marvin Bagley, Trae Young, Michael Porter, Jr., and Mo Bamba all have incredibly high ceilings. The Mavs may yet do something meaningful with that selection.

“It’s a strong draft, and a lot of the draft is going to go with what player fits what team in a particular system. If you’re lucky enough to get that perfect combination, the players that are in this draft are really good and have the capability of helping a team right away.”

That’s what Finley and the rest of the Mavericks’ organization hopes will happen in 2018-2019.

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