The 2014 NBA Draft has received a lot of hype because of the names at the top, but the sheer depth is as much of a reason as any to drool over the game-changing class.
Second-round gems are unearthed every year. In 2010, the man, the myth, the legend, Lance Stephenson. In 2011, Chandler Parsons and Mr. Not-So-Irrelevant Isaiah Thomas. Players from the last two drafts haven't had time to fully develop, but we've already seen players such as Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Ray McCallum, Nate Wolters and Ryan Kelly make solid impacts.
In 2014, the amount of candidates capable of providing similar second-round value stacks almost as high as Zach LaVine's vertical.
Spencer Dinwiddie, SG, Colorado
Through 17 games of his junior campaign, Spencer Dinwiddie looked like a first-round pick. He averaged 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He was shooting 46.6 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from distance and held a sparkling true-shooting percentage of 66.7, which would have put him second among guards in the Pac-12, per BBState.com (subscription needed). He had 15 points and seven assists in a win over Kansas and 23 and seven in a win over then-undefeated Oregon.
Then he tore his ACL against Washington in January, and his stock plummeted.
While it's still enough to keep him out of the first round, a knee injury ain't what it used to be. Er, modern medicine ain't what it used to be. Adrian Peterson is obviously the poster child for how players can recover from this particular injury, but many other athletes have rehabbed at unbelievable rates over the past couple of years.
It's a risk—Dinwiddie is basically a grandpa at 21, and he probably won't contribute much as a rookie—but it's a calculated one. And he's worth it.
A remarkably efficient scorer, Dinwiddie can penetrate, get to the free-throw line or knock down shots from the outside. While not an explosive athlete, he's a smooth, intelligent scorer with NBA size (6'6" with a 6'8.25" wingspan, per DraftExpress.com). As he proved during his junior season, he can also handle the ball and distribute.
“Where I go, I don’t know,” Dinwiddie said during May's combine, via Sporting News' Sean Deveny. “What do I think they will be getting? I think they will be getting the best PG in the draft. Whether it is 45, whether it is No. 5.”
Oh yeah, he's not exactly short on confidence, either. Dinwiddie continued:
A late contest on a 3-pointer was what our team wanted. A late contest on a 3-pointer from Steph Curry is not what your team wants, because it’s a bucket. … I can create havoc with my length. I’m 6-6, 205 with a 6-9 wingspan—that is not something everybody in this draft possesses. And when you talk about playmaking and shooting, that’s just, it’s a rare package.
Dinwiddie's injury was certainly unfortunate, but his newest team won't care—it will help them nab an impressive talent for an absolute bargain if he falls to the second round.
Nick Johnson, PG, Arizona
Although he averaged a solid 16.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals as a junior, Nick Johnson's impact has always felt like it couldn't be fully summarized by numbers.
He hit clutch shots. He made big defensive plays. He's just one of those guys who is filled with intangibles and always seemed to do whatever was necessary to win games.
There's a place for that in the NBA. While that place might not be in the starting lineup, the Pac-12 Player of the Year can fill a valuable role, as he discussed, via the Phoenix Suns' official Twitter feed:
"I think I could be a piece to be the puzzle." - Nick Johnson on potential of playing in Phoenix #SunsDraft— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 5, 2014
Of course, he's not all boring intangibles and unmeasurable plays. Johnson, who is 6'3" with a solid wingspan of 6'7.25," can jump out of the gym:
With good size, gaudy athleticism, a high-basketball IQ and an NBA bloodline (he's the nephew of former great Dennis Johnson), this is a player who can serve as a reliable backup point guard with the potential to be a high-quality, play-making defender against both guard positions.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, SF, Delaware 87ers
At 21 years of age and still fairly raw as a prospect, Thanasis Antetokounmpo belongs in the second round. However, with similar physical gifts as his brother, you aren't going to find a more tantalizing prospect that late in the draft.
Thanasis (6'6" with a 7'0" wingspan) doesn't have quite the same size as the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis, but he has the same kind of electrifying athleticism and lateral quickness.
Utah Jazz VP of Player Personnel, via the Salt Lake Tribune's Aaron Falk, put it simply:
Walt Perrin on Thanasis: "Still a little bit raw offensively, but he's a much better, much better athlete than his brother."— Aaron Falk (@tribjazz) June 6, 2014
The original Greek Freak—he is Giannis' older brother, after all—will make his money on the defensive end, at least at first. He averaged 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game with the NBA D-League's Delaware 87ers last season, and he combines his quickness and length with a relentless, hard-working attitude.
Offensively, he's a danger in the open court but shot just 30.9 percent from long range. However, that number increased to 44.0 percent over his last 15 games, suggesting he will be able to play a nice complimentary role on that end in the future.
Again, it may take some time to mold Thanasis, but for a second-round pick, you're getting immense potential packed in a player who has the drive to live up to it.