On a wild draft night, three players quietly went off the board in the second round who will wind up playing big roles on their respective teams by the end of next season.
These guys will never be all-star caliber players, but they all have the tools to fill valuable roles for franchises in the NBA. They also have the skills to do so right off the bat.
No. 39 Portland Trail Blazers: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
I was shocked to see Jeff Withey fall to the second round. Apparently, so were the Blazers.
The Oregonian's Mike Tokito passed along this quote from Blazers general manager Neil Olshey on second-round picks Withey and California guard Allen Crabbe (No. 31): "They were both higher on our board, I can say that."
Withey, 23, doesn't have a high ceiling. He is limited offensively, but defense is another story.
He won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award in each of his last two seasons while blocking nearly four shots a game. Last season, he also grabbed 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Blazers need this kind of interior presence.
Meyers Leonard is coming off an underwhelming rookie season where he was pushed out of the paint, J.J. Hickson is a free agent, and according to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, LaMarcus Aldridge wants to be traded.
Withey is not only going to make this team—he will be starting as a rookie.
No. 53 Indiana Pacers: Colton Iverson, C, Colorado State
Colton Iverson was selected by the Pacers, but he is on his way to Boston. The Celitcs made moves to dramatically beef up their frontcourt on draft night, and they tweeted the news:
The Boston Celtics acquired the draft rights to Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson during Thursday night's NBA Draft: http://t.co/Vdh8pxNFcZ— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 28, 2013
This was a solid move for Boston. While Iverson is extremely limited, he is 7'0", 255 pounds and he knows how to hold his space under the rim. He averaged 9.8 boards a game last year.
However, it is easy to see why he lasted as long as he did. He will be 24 by the end of the week, and he is limited athletically.
So, let me be clear. By projecting him to be a starter, I'm not suggesting he is a better pro prospect than Kelly Olynyk. However, the offensive-minded Olynyk will be better served to get looks coming in with the second unit, while Iverson will be more than willing to simply put a body on someone while his teammates handle the scoring.
And with the trade tweeted by Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin, there will be some openings in the Celtics' frontcourt:
Kevin Garnett agrees to deal that will send him and Paul Pierce to the Nets http://t.co/RK18Qg0IZC— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) June 28, 2013
I wouldn't expect Iverson to be on the court at the end of games, but he will be at the beginning.
No. 50 Atlanta Hawks: James Ennis, SF, Long Beach State University
Yes, the two-time defending champion Miami Heat will have a second-round rookie starting for them by the end of next season.
They tweeted the news of the deal that landed them this future starter:
The Heat have a lot of tough roster decisions coming this offseason, and the roster is sure to look vastly different than last year.
I see the Heat progressing to a point where they roll a smaller lineup out on the court to start the game. They have shied away from looking to add a space-eating center, and instead have gone to a more perimeter-based influx of new players.
Ennis is a fantastic athlete and good defender. He has no handles or dribble moves, but he has three-point range and can finish.
On offense, he will not be able to be trusted to do much except take an open shot or pass it on, and that is all he would have to do starting alongside Wade and James.
I don't expect Ennis to play big minutes. There will surely be a host of battle-tested veterans to help close out games. However, Ennis will help wear an opposition out early on.