My work on the second round of this year’s draft has already started by looking at the potential late first rounders, but there are still a lot of other guys with the chance to be drafted in the second round. Rankings across different sites vary more in the second round, and generally no one has any idea what they’re doing when it comes to second rounders. Since the overwhelming majority of second rounders don’t ever play meaningful NBA minutes, majorly diverging from consensus isn’t really a problem.
Looking at the major sites opinion of guys certainly has value, but since no one consistently guesses second rounders well, evaluating them based on other things than just traditional scouting would seem to hold an edge. In that vein, while I’ve made an effort to watch a ton of almost everyone who has a good chance of being drafted in the first, I rely much more on analytic models and looking at skill sets that more easily “fit” in the NBA to project which second rounders have the best chance of succeeding.
Basically, any one thing that stands out for a prospect is what sparks interest for them being a potential second round “steal.” It could be a particularly translatable or intriguing skill set, an impressive “eye test”, or a high performance in a draft model that causes me to think a player is worth a shot in the second round. On the other end of the spectrum, being particularly bad in any one of those three areas is generally enough to move a prospect significantly down unless they’re exceptional in other areas.
I’m breaking the second rounders into three groups; overrated, underrated, or properly rated. For determining over/underrated I’m comparing my own ranking purely to the DraftExpress ranking only because the instances where DraftExpress and ESPN vary widely would be confusing to deal with otherwise.
Player-Team-Age (Draft Express Top-100 Rank, ESPN Top-100 Rank)
Jordan Mickey-LSU-20.9 (DX 31, ESPN 41): Mickey’s appeal is in his athleticism, mobility, and 7’3 wingspan on the defensive end which potentially would allow him to guard both 4’s and 5’s despite standing only 6’8. Unfortunately, from watching and statistics his instincts seem to be merely average for a big man which in conjunction with his height makes him far less appealing on that end of the floor. Additionally, Mickey is a relatively poor rebounder and a major negative on the offensive end. His range only extends to 15 feet, he’s turnover prone, and he has poor touch finishing inside.
For a 5 his size and instincts would prevent him from being a particularly helpful defender, but for a 4 his lack of offensive skill would be really damaging. His path to success would involve improving his defensive instincts to elite or developing more offensively, but both would be significant and unlikely improvements.
Draft Value Mid/Late 2nd 42-52
Nikola Milutinov-Partizan-20.4 (DX 33, ESPN 52): Milutinov is a pretty standard fairly mobile, fairly athletic, and somewhat skilled big man. There are a few international bigs who fit the description, and he doesn’t stand out in any one way to make him intriguing. Milutinov is generally skilled and competent on the offensive end, lacking any noticeable flaws on that side of the ball. On defense, his very low STL% and BLK% suggest his defensive feel and playmaking are huge weaknesses, and he will likely be a very poor defender. Very poor defense without particularly interesting offense isn’t a good combination to have. He’s skilled and competent, but I don’t see the upside in the early second round at all.
Draft Value: Late 2nd/Undrafted 52-Undrafted
Mouhammadou Jaiteh-Nanterre-20.5 (DX 37, ESPN 40): Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Jaiteh is a pretty mobile, kind of athletic, kind of skilled big guy who hopes to fit in as a solid defender and pick and roll player. He lacks noticeable pop as an athlete, and also is somewhat undersized for a true center. Jaiteh’s only standout strength is his mobility guarding the perimeter, except from watching that appears to be good, not great.
Jaiteh does possess glaring weaknesses though as he lacks leaping ability to be a good rim protector, and he’s a disastrous decision maker on the offensive end, failing to read the game at a high level. Still, scouts seem to like him and his mobility guarding the perimeter is fairly impressive. The somewhat major weaknesses bring me down from the general scouting view on him, but his strength and mobility in conjunction make him slightly more intriguing than Milutinov.
Draft Value: Late 2nd 46-56
Michael Qualls-Arkansas-21.4 (DX 40, ESPN 48): (EDIT: This was my take on Qualls before the devastating news broke about his torn ACL. Considering my prior stance on him my opinion should be clear, but I wish him the best in his recovery, injuries during any time in a player’s career are unfair, but right now especially so.)
Qualls, like Mickey, has the athletic tools to be a really good defensive player, yet unlike Mickey he didn’t even produce defensively at the college level. Despite his physical profile and athleticism, he ranked 7th on Arkansas in defensive rating due to lacking natural feel for defending or being in the right place. Defending that poorly at the college level as a junior is a pretty strong sign he’ll not only not be a good NBA defender, but a really bad one. Offensively he’s a career 33% three-point shooter who’s creation skills are nothing special. In order to be a serviceable 3-and-D wing, he’d need to both improve his shooting and significantly improve his defensive awareness, a really long bet.
Draft Value Late 2nd/Undrafted 54-Undrafted
Norman Powell-UCLA-22.0 (DX 43, ESPN 56): Powell is an incredibly impressive player to watch visually at times, causing draft analysts to overrate him. He’s extremely athletic and when he’s playing well he uses his crazy 6’11 wingspan to do some amazing things on the court, masking the fact that he’s a generally unhelpful player. He’s an above average positional defender, but he doesn’t profile as an elite one in any way.
Offensively he can’t shoot, and he’s a very poor creator for a combo guard who plays generally inefficient basketball. At 22 years of age it’s hard to see him improving to where he would need to be an effective NBA player, and though he’s visually appealing, he doesn’t seem like a good use of a second round pick.
Draft Value: Late 2nd/Undrafted 58-Undrafted
Rakeem Christmas-Syracuse-23.5 (DX 43, ESPN 35): At first glance, Christmas seems a decent second round prospect with a combination of solid defense and pick and roll finishing ability, while also having some touch around the rim and a decent 15 footer. However, when you take into account that he’s the oldest prospect in the draft at 23.5 years of age things aren’t quite so bright. In that light his more well developed skill set seems to more a product of seasoning than true ability, and none of his skills stand out as potentially above-average at the NBA level.
Additionally, after playing 4 years of zone at Syracuse his development in learning NBA style defense will probably be slower than most, further dampening his outlook. Once his age and team situation is considered, there just isn’t much to get excited about regarding Christmas. He has no glaring flaws, but it doesn’t look like he can help an NBA team in any one way.
Draft Value: Late 2nd/Undrafted 55-Undrafted
Olivier Hanlan-Boston College-22.3 (DX 50, ESPN 43): Hanlan’s a completely meh prospect in almost every way, and a team should take a gamble on someone with something intriguing instead. He’s a fine scorer on the offensive end, a decent shooter, and a mediocre distributor who has a good frame for a PG and solid athleticism. Defensively he’s pretty inept, not showing a commitment to making plays, resulting in only the 7th best DRTG of the 10 rotation players on his Boston College team. No one of his offensive skills stands out enough to justify his probably very poor defense, and it’s hard to see what his role would be on an NBA team. Being ranked 50th it’s hard to be “overrated”, but at PG, generally the deepest position in any draft, it would seem unwise to take Hanlan that early.
Draft Value: Late 2nd/Undrafted 57-Undrafted
Julian Washburn-UTEP-23.4 (DX 52, ESPN Unranked): ESPN doesn’t even rank him so it’s a little silly to call him overrated, but I just am confused as to why DraftExpress has him ranked at all. He posted a 14.3 PER and a 2.3 BPM (both are pretty bad numbers) as a 23 year old senior! I mean if you’re not even a good college player at the age of 23 what possibly makes you an intriguing NBA prospect? When watching UTEP I’ve focused my attention on his teammate Vince Hunter, but I just cannot understand what makes him a relevant NBA prospect.
Draft Value: Undrafted 60+
Quinn Cook-Duke-22.2 (DX 55, ESPN 57): I promise this is the last guy I will unnecessarily bash despite basically no one being “high” on him. He’s a tiny and unathletic point guard who’s only real NBA skill is spot-up shooting, and wasn’t even a very good defender at the college level. If he was bigger or more athletic he might be able to be a 3-and-D type point guard, but as it stands he’s a point guard who won’t be able to create and won’t be able to play defense at anywhere close to an NBA level. Picking in the 50’s is a huge crapshoot either way, but there are a number of more intriguing prospects who will be available if Cook ends up going off the board.
Draft Value: Undrafted 60+