Five candidates to be an NBA second-round steal
Five candidates to be an NBA second-round steal
BOSTON – When it came time to pick the NBA’s rookie of the year this past season, voters did the seemingly unheard of.
Rather than pick the best stat-stuffing rookie, which tends to be how this award goes, they instead voted for Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, whose greatest strength was his impact on helping the Milwaukee Bucks get to the playoffs.
Beyond that, his selection was unprecedented due to him being a second-round pick.
That kind of success gives hope to second-round picks in the future that they too can come in and make an immediate impact as Brogdon or Golden State All-Star Draymond Green has.
So who will be this year’s second-round steal?
Here are five players selected in the second round of the June NBA draft to keep an eye on this season:
Ike Anigbogu, 6-10, 250, UCLA,47th overall pick by Indiana
The second round is full of players with first-round talent but for whatever reason, slip into the second round. Anigbogu left UCLA after an injury-riddled freshman season in which he played in the shadow of Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf, both of whom were taken in the first round. His minutes were limited off the UCLA bench, but his potential to be a physical, impact player at the NBA level was evident. He has so many of the skills you want in a big man coming off your bench – size, length, quick first and second-step on the bounce which helps him be a factor on the offensive glass. The Pacers are hoping those skills can help mask whatever shortcomings he has due to lack of experience and youth.
Dillon Brooks, 6-6, 225, G/F, Oregon, 45th overall by Houston, traded to Memphis
This is one of my favorite second-round picks this year. While at Oregon, Brooks did a little bit of everything, displaying Swiss Army knife-like skills that fit in well with the direction of the NBA these days. Playing both forward spots in college should help him from a physical standpoint defending primarily small forwards in the NBA. He joins a Grizzlies team clearly shifting from the grit-and-grind brand of basketball they’ve played in recent years to one that will rely more on having versatile talent impacting the game at both ends of the floor. Brooks’ defense remains a question mark in the NBA. Still, his much-improved shooting in his final season at Oregon provides hope that shot-making won’t be as big a concern. While there’s no guarantee how much he’ll play, it’s difficult to imagine him not being in the Grizzlies’ regular rotation at some point when you consider the injury-riddled wing players (Chandler Parson, Tyreke Evans) on Memphis’ roster.
Wesley Iwundu, 6-7, 205, Kansas State, 33rd overall by Orlando
One of the better two-way players in this draft class, Iwundu’s ability to match up defensively in the NBA are among the many appealing qualities he brings to the game. At 6-7 with a wingspan in the 7-foot neighborhood, he has the length to defend both guard positions. While he has added strength, defending 3’s (small forwards) may be a bit challenging for him initially. With the Magic having struggled the past few years, Iwundu will have a chance to play his way into a meaningful role. And remember, the new GM of the Magic is John Hammond, the same man who drafted last season’s rookie of the year, Malcolm Brogdon.
Frank Mason III, 6-0, 189, Kansas, 34th overall by Sacramento
Like most second-round picks, you can count on Mason III coming in with a chip on his shoulder, even more so with the Kings selecting him in the second round after taking De’Arron Fox – a player Mason III outplayed in their only matchup last season between Kansas and Kentucky - with the fifth overall pick On top of that, Mason came out with the win. Of course, the NBA is a different arena, one that may very well play out better for Fox than Mason III. But make no mistake about it. Mason III was one of the nation’s top players and he’s going to give Fox a legit run for playing time.
Semi Ojeleye, 6-7, 235, SMU, 37th overall by the Celtics
On the surface, it appears minutes will be few and far between for Ojeleye. Gordon Hayward and Jae Crowder will log most of the minutes at small forward, and first-round pick Jayson Tatum will likely see time there as well. But Ojeleye has unique skills that one can envision being beneficial to the Celtics at some point this season. He’s bigger than each of the aforementioned Celtics and has more bounce to his game than his muscular frame might lead one to believe. And as the NBA moves more towards becoming a position-less game, players such as Ojeleye, who can shoot 3’s and defend multiple positions, become even more valuable to develop and eventually get on the floor.