Blueprint for Finding Diamonds in the NBA Draft's 2nd Round
The NBA draft's second round is like a free grab bag of toys, only you get to peek inside and choose the one you want.
The keyword here is "free." Second-round picks don't get guaranteed contracts—this is the time to swing for the fences.
The great NBA scouts leave no stone unturned, while keeping an open mind with regard to every potential target.
I'm going to lay down the law for how the second round should be approached.
Ignore the Details
The second round isn't a place to nitpick. Dissect your first-round pick to pieces; he's the guy you're paying guaranteed money to as an expected key member of your future rotation.
The second pick is a freebie.
Who cares that Isaiah Thomas is only 5'9'', or that Chandler Parsons lacks explosiveness on the wing, or that Gilbert Arenas is a tweener or that Carlos Boozer can't jump over a puddle?
The second round is a chance for you to go with your gut without taking any risk.
Highlight Elite Strengths and Target Specialists
Be realistic about draft position. Don't head in expecting to find the next Manu Ginobili, who went No. 57 overall in 1999. Expect to find someone like Kyle Korver, who went No. 51 in 2003.
Go with what you know. Watching Kyle Korver at Creighton, you knew he had an elite three-point stroke. Even though he's completely one-dimensional, that one dimension translates and could be used to improve a rotation.
Specialists are available in the second round.
You know your team is weak under the boards? Take the guy who led the country in rebounding, like the Utah Jazz did in 2006 when they selected Paul Millsap No. 47 overall.
At the time, all Millsap was able to do was rebound and finish at the rim, but since his specialty was able to translate, he served a purpose on the floor. He was given valuable minutes early on, and in time he grew as a player and expanded his game.
If you can find a contributor in the second round, even if it's only in one department, go for it. Cheap rotation players don't just grow on trees, and the second round is a complementary tree full of potential reserves to choose from.
Searching for talent overseas is a game plan for teams looking to win now and preserve talent for the future.
If teams don't feel there's any available American talent worthy of a roster spot, they'll take an international player and let him season abroad, if that's what the situation calls for.
Luis Scola, Marc Gasol, Marcin Gortat and Manu Ginobili were all international second-round picks who spent time in Europe after the draft before coming to the NBA to help their teams years later.
The fans won't like it now, but they might later.
If All Else Fails, Go Big or Athletic
If there isn't anyone on the board that impresses in terms of skill level and talent, go big or athletic.
Seven-footers could be valuable just by having them stand at the rim. They make for easy finishing targets who don't have to pack their bags and go on an adventure just to convert a basket.
Defensively, their value is self-explanatory. If you can find a center with size and a wingspan in the 7'2'' range, you've got yourself a rim protector whether he's got the defensive instincts or not.
Or at least a body to work with and a game to develop over time.
Same goes for athleticism. If all else fails, take the most athletic guy on the board. The Knicks took Trevor Ariza with the 43rd pick, and he found a way to contribute without possessing a refined offensive skill set. He let his athleticism do the talking, playing defense, slashing off the ball and getting out in transition, and it earned him a rotation spot and eventual lucrative contract.
And of course, if you can find a prospect who has both size and athleticism, take the opportunity to give him a hard look. In 2008, the Los Angeles Clippers took a kid named DeAndre Jordan at No. 35 overall. Jordan was raw as a bone, but he possessed all the qualities you can't teach while struggling in the areas with room for growth. He wasn't NBA-ready, but the reward was eventually worth the wait.
Cross Your Fingers
Drafting is like poker—you can only be so good without needing a little bit of luck. You have to position yourself to succeed and then let destiny play its part.
If it were that easy to find a diamond in the second round, we'd need to add more teams to the league, because there would be too many players and not enough roster spots.
But teams are always looking to fill out rotations, and the second round could be a cost-effective way to do so.
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