Most of the focus leading up to June's NBA draft—understandably—surrounds the opening 30 picks, but here's a fact people often forget.
There are actually two rounds.
Yes, the tantalizing prospects with oozing All-Star potential and jaw-dropping skill sets are probably off the board—and by the time David Stern is ready for a nap and Adam Silver takes over the podium you've probably heard the phrases "tremendous upside," "huge wingspan" and "endless motor" so many times that you're ready to throw your TV out the window.
Still, teams "win" the draft in the second round.
Marc Gasol (No. 48 overall) was a second-round pick. So was Paul Millsap (No. 47), Manu Ginobili (No. 57) and most recently, Draymond Green (No. 35), Chandler Parsons (No. 38) and Isaiah Thomas (No. 60).
Even in what is largely considered a weak draft, this year's class won't be short of second-round sleepers.
Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
I called shotgun on Nate Wolters' bandwagon as soon as I watched him do this:
In that game, Wolters hit 10-of-20 shots for 34 points to go with five rebounds, seven assists and zero(!) turnovers. He absolutely dismantled a Husky team that consisted of two current NBA players (Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten) in Seattle.
UW head coach Lorenzo Romar's postgame reaction was appropriate:
Terry Vandrovec @TerryVandrovec
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, dean of Pac-12 coaches on Nate Wolters: "One of the best performances by a point guard I've ever seen."2011-12-18 22:27:24
Oh, and by the way, that was during Wolters' junior year.
As a senior, the heady Jackrabbit from St. Cloud, Minn. averaged 22.3 points on a ridiculously efficient 60.4 true-shooting percentage (13th among all 2013 prospects) to go with 5.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists (with an assist-to-turnover ratio that is second to only Trey Burke) and 1.7 steals.
Simply unreal production.
I know, I know. A lot of that came against the powerful Summit League.
Fear not, though, because the process matches the results. Wolters has good size (just under 6'5"), is a crafty, intelligent scorer who thrives in the pick-and-roll and has matched up well with Burke and other athletic guards throughout his career.
His talent will translate to the next level.
Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell
Keeping with the mid-major theme, let's go with Bucknell big man Mike Muscala, who churned out one of the most impressive stats from last week's combine:
Chad Ford @chadfordinsider
Top shooters from NBA Draft Combine on Thur: Mike Muscala (76%), Tony Snell (74%), Reggie Bullock & Grant Jerrett (72%), Allen Crabbe (70%)2013-5-17 13:39:49
That's not some anomaly, either. Reggie Bullock and Allen Crabbe are widely regarded as two of the best pure shooters in this draft, while Tony Snell often lit it up at New Mexico State and Grant Jerrett is a stretch 4.
That is a group of very talented snipers, and Muscala out-shot all of them.
It's important not to overreact and call him a better overall shooter, but the mere fact that he impressively topped the list gives you an idea of his versatility as an offensive player.
Not only does he have terrific range for a near seven-footer, making him a dangerous weapon in the NBA pick-and-pop game, but he has a burgeoning back-to-the-basket game, often showcasing the ability to score out of the post with either hand.
Muscala needs to add some bulk to his 230-pound frame, and he doesn't have an overwhelming ceiling.
But he's an aggressive vacuum on the glass (14.8 rebounds per 40 minutes) and elite rim protector on defense (2.9 blocks per 40 minutes). Add that to his efficient, wide-ranging offensive arsenal and you have a player who should be at least generating buzz as a late first-round pick.
Erick Green, SG, Virginia Tech
Erick Green has been mentioned as a first-round pick, but Draft Express' Jonathan Givony, ESPN's Chad Ford and CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman and Matt Moore all have him absent from their mock drafts, so we'll assume he's safe on this particular list.
There were very few players in the country who had a more spectacular 2012-13 season than Green.
Forced into being the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 options for a terrible Virginia Tech squad, it wasn't surprising that the 6'3" senior scored a lot of points.
But 25.0 per game—which led the country—at an efficient rate with defenses draped all over him was downright impressive. As was the array of ways in which he scored (stats courtesy of Draft Express):
|Category (Per 40 Minutes)||PPG||2PA||2P%||3PA||3P%||FTA||FT%||Pts/Play|
|Rank Among 2013 Draft Class||3rd||6th||25th||16th||9th||2nd||10th||7th|
Some players are better shooters. Some are more efficient inside the three-point arc. But the versatility in which Green put the peach in the basket was staggering.
He knocked down threes, hit mid-range jumpers and beat defenders off the dribble to get to the hoop and draw contact. Offensively, he has the tools to beat you in any way he wants.
Green isn't a fully complete player—he lacks ideal size and isn't a fantastic distributor—but he has the ability to give a team instant offense and an injection of energy off the bench.
Ask Jamal Crawford or J.R. Smith how valuable that can be in the NBA.