While the bulk of this year's draft coverage has dealt with the two superstars at the top of the board, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, it's time for CHN to look out for the little guy. The little guy in this case would be the second round draft prospect.
Potential second round picks have to work their tails off this time of year. They can't afford to snub teams wanting to work them out and they have to attend all of the pre-draft camps that they get invited to in order to show off their wares. While Oden and Durant only have a couple of teams to work out for, second round guys are flying all over the country working out for numerous teams.
Is it all worth it? Even getting picked in the second round doesn't guarantee you anything as only first round picks get guaranteed contracts. Over the last five years, 63% of second round draft picks have appeared in at least one NBA game (93 out of 148 drafted). Last year's draft has so far stayed true to the course - 19 out of 30 2006 second round draftees saw action in the League last year. However, pretty much every year at least one second round guy makes GMs look like fools for passing him over. Last year was no exception, with the following three second round picks making an above average impact. It is also important to note that the supposed weakness that all three possessed going into the draft was a lack of a true position on the court due to their respective sizes.
Craig Smith - Minnesota Timberwolves - Pick #36
While at Boston College, the 6'7" 250lb Smith was a bully in the post, using his size to score at will. However, he was considered too short to be an effective NBA player. Smith proved the critics wrong, averaging 7.4 points and 5.1 boards in his 18.7 minutes per game. His strong play earned him NBA Second Team All-Rookie honors.
Daniel Gibson - Cleveland Cavaliers - Pick #42
The author of this column last year wrote that Gibson was a shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body. While the 6'2" 190lb Texas alum did nothing to disprove that theory, he did show that he could be a very effective player in the Cavaliers system. While he had a so-so regular season - 4.6 points per game while shooting 41.9% from deep - the playoffs is when Boobie really made a name for himself. He almost doubled his scoring average (up to 8.3ppg) and helped slay the evil Pistons monster in the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 13.5ppg and shooting a sizzling 50% from three.
Paul Millsap - Utah Jazz - Pick #47
The 6'8" 245lb Millsap proved he could get the job done for little Louisiana Tech, but few believed he could step up to the NBA level (the rumor that he might only be 6'7" didn't help matters). Despite a star-studded frontcourt ahead of him with the Jazz, Millsap saw action in all 82 games, averaging 6.8ppg and 5.2rpg. This also earned him NBA Second Team All-Rookie accolades.
2007's draft crop also has similar prospects projected to go in the second round. As the above examples prove, lack of size and/or an apparent NBA position doesn't exclude a player from having success at the next level. Here are some potential second round sleepers in this year's draft.
Jared Dudley – Boston College
Like former teammate Smith, the 6’7” 225lb Dudley seems to be without a definite NBA position to play. However, after dominating in the ACC this past season and playing standout ball during pre-draft workouts and camps, his weaknesses don’t seem so bad. While he doesn’t have the size and skill package to be a big-time star, if a team can grab him with a second round pick they will get a hard working, “glue” player that every team needs.
Nick Fazekas – Nevada
Instead of dwelling on the Fazekas’ negatives – unathletic, awkward runner, lack of NBA strength – look at his positives. Fazekas is a 6’11” guy who dominated in college and can flat-out shoot the rock, and the NBA is all about big guys who can shoot. According to draftexpress.com, Fazekas has been shooting around 75% from the NBA three-point line during pre-draft workouts, so put him in the right NBA system and he can be a very effective player.
Petteri Koponen – Finland
Koponen is only 19-years-old and very inexperienced. However, the point guard has done so well in pre-draft workouts that he has decided to stay in the draft. In a draft weak in point guard talent, Koponen could be a steal in the second round – assuming the team picking him is willing to be patient and let his game and body develop.