Every year, at least one good player slips through the cracks and goes in the second round. In the 2019 NBA Draft, here are five players who could fit that mold.
To be a good team in the NBA, you have to hit decisions on the margins. Building an elite team can’t be done without acquiring and developing elite talent, or making savvy free agency decisions, but those big decisions have to be supported by making smart decisions and getting lucky elsewhere. For instance, success in the second round of the NBA Draft is incredibly important. The Warriors hit a lot of first-round picks and signed Kevin Durant, but they aren’t the Warriors if they don’t capitalize on Draymond Green falling to them. The LeBron James’ Miami Heat team got quality play from second-rounder Mario Chalmers. The Spurs hit on Manu Ginobili, the Bulls hit on Toni Kukoc, the Pistons hit on Dennis Rodman, etc. Second-round picks don’t always provide positive players, but when they do, those players are incredibly valuable due to the low cost of keeping them around and developing them, which is vital to maintaining the core of a great team.
Every year, there’s also at least one player who ends up slipping out of the first round due to any number of concerns. It could be injury; it could be character concerns; it could be some limitation to their game that they need to overcome. But if you get these types of players in the right spot, they can end up making teams that passed on them look silly. Draymond is the obvious example here, a player with a unique skill set and conditioning issues who fell to the Warriors, a team ready to weaponize him after helping him get in shape. Two years ago, it was the Bucks picking up Sterling Brown, a 3-and-D wing who flew under the radar at SMU, but was a first-round prospect to some scouts. He’s turned into a very positive rotation player for them. And last year, Mitchell Robinson (who finished the season ranked 20th on our big board) was arguably a top-10 rookie in terms of impact despite falling all the way to the 36th pick.
In the 2019 NBA Draft, the second round probably won’t feature a player of Robinson or Draymond’s caliber. This draft isn’t that great to begin with, and that means that the players that could be drafted later on are going to be risky. But teams are struggling to evaluate this draft class, and there’s a likelihood that a first round caliber prospect will be available to some team in the second round. Teams betting on the supposed upside of limited players like Rui Hachimura and Tyler Herro might lead to more quality prospects slipping. There will be a reason for that happening, but if one of the following players gets into a good position, they could be a potential steal for the team that drafts them.