NBA Draft 2011: Potential 2nd Round Steals for the Golden State Warriors
Despite the hype of the lottery and the first 14 picks, one shouldn't forget that there are two rounds to the NBA Draft. Although second-round prospects don't always pan out, there is always the chance to find hidden gems that flew under the radar but turn out to be impact players in the NBA.
In the last decade, the Warriors have had a reasonable amount of success finding talent in the second round.
In 2001, Golden State selected Gilbert Arenas, a point guard out of Arizona. Granted, he's not doing so well these days in Orlando, but before injuries and a locker room gun fiasco derailed his career, Arenas was one of the more prolific scorers in the league. The same guy who once dropped 60 points on Kobe and Lakers in an overtime win was formerly a second round pick.
Four years later, the Warriors found another talented guard early in the second round, a high school guard by the name of Monta Ellis. Ellis has become a fan favorite and arguably the Warriors' best player, averaging 24 points per game last season.
Without further ado, here is a short list of prospects that the Warriors should take a closer look at in the 2nd round of this year's draft.
Jeremy Tyler, PF/C
The Breakdown: Tyler is the definition of a high-risk, high-return draft prospect. After being the first high school player to skip college and go pro overseas, Tyler enters this year's draft as a big question mark.
His first professional stint overseas with an Israeli team went as badly as it possibly could have, with Tyler receiving very little playing time on top of being labeled an unprofessional headcase by his coach and teammates. His second stint playing professionally was much more successful; he averaged 10 points and 6.4 rebounds per game with the Tokyo Apache.
Granted, the J-League does not offer the most intense level of competition in pro basketball. Tyler measures 6'10 in shoes and 260 pounds, so he looks the part of an NBA center and has done well in recent workouts.
Once considered the No. 1 high school prospect in the nation according to Rivals.com, the Warriors could take a chance on the big man based on his potential and the apparent newly found maturity that he has displayed in interviews.
Where he is projected to go: Late first round to early second round.
Travis Leslie, SG/SF, Georgia
The Breakdown: Without question one of the best athletes in the draft, most of Leslie's red flags stem from his perceived cockiness. When recently asked about being compared with Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, Leslie reportedly countered that he is already a better player than Tony Allen. Not a great way to show humility to NBA teams.
Nevertheless, general managers should also take into account that Allen himself has also had some character issues in the past. Now, Allen is a leader and a defensive stopper for a legitimate playoff contender.
At only 6'3" without shoes, Leslie is definitely undersized as a 2-guard but somewhat compensates for it with a massive 6'10" wingspan and one of the best verticals in the draft. Leslie is also a proven defender at the college level, being able to guard several positions because of his athleticism.
Leslie can fill a big need for the Warriors, as a backup shooting guard that could potentially develop into a lockdown perimeter defender.
Where he is projected to go: Early to mid second round, with an outside chance to sneak into the first round.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington
The Breakdown: Standing only 5'10", the diminutive point guard out of Washington is not a lock to be drafted this year. If he successfully makes the jump, he will be the second sub-six-foot Husky guard to make the league in recent history, the other example being Nate Robinson.
Although not as explosive as the aforementioned Robinson, Thomas can throw down some pretty impressive dunks himself, considering his size. Aside from the 40-inch vertical, Thomas has developed into a pretty decent point guard over his collegiate career, averaging 7.2 assists at that position last year.
Consider also that Robinson is relatively new to the position, so he has a lot of potential to improve further given the chance. If Robinson can improve his shooting range out to the NBA 3 and capitalize on his tremendous athleticism, he could take on a vital role similar to offensive sparkplug J.J. Barea on the Dallas Mavericks.
As it stands, neither Acie Law nor Jeremy Lin look like the Warriors long-time solution at backup point guard for the Warriors, so Thomas might be worth a look in the second round.
Where he is projected to go: Late second round, possibly undrafted.
Iman Shumpert, PG/SG, Georgia Tech
The Breakdown: If NBA Draft selections were based solely on combine results, Iman Shumpert would likely be a top-five pick. Shumpert has been a fast-riser on many Internet draft boards to due to some impressive measurables at the recent combine.
He recorded a combine-best 42 inch vertical and also had the second best result in the bench press at 18 reps. Despite wowing scouts, Shumpert's stock is being held back by his lack of elite production at the college level and questionable shot selection. He posted an unimpressive 40% field goal rate last season and hit on only 28 percent from three despite decent shot mechanics.
At 6'6", many NBA teams are willing to take a chance on his potential as a very big point guard with explosive athleticism. Shumpert could still develop into a better decision-maker and a difference making 6th man for the Warriors down the line, given his many physical gifts.
Where he is projected to go: Online draft sites have Shumpert listed anywhere from late first round to late second round, so it's anybody's guess where he'll end up.
Keith Benson, C, Oakland
The Breakdown: At 6'11", Benson is one of the few center prospects in the draft. He possesses a great deal of bounce and fluidity for a big man, which along with his 7'4" wingspan allowed him to be one of the most prolific shot-blockers at the collegiate level last season (3.6 BPG).
However, a few issues have held him back from being a first-round prospect. Currently weighing only 217 pounds, Benson must add a lot of bulk to compete at the NBA level. Also, many teams have concerns that he can't match up with NBA big men talent-wise because his level of competition at Oakland wasn't great.
However, Benson possesses the prerequisite length and athleticism to play center in the NBA, and the Warriors could take a chance on him as a project while he fills out his frame. At worst, Benson could be a solid shot-blocker and rebounder off the bench.
Where he is projected to go: Mid second round.