The second round of the NBA Draft largely goes unnoticed as for every player that hits, there are countless misses. Here is a look at ten stellar second rounders.
PG : Goran Dragic
Sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference at 10-11, the Miami Heat continue to get reliable scoring production from their starting point guard Goran Dragic. The Slovenian who has since taken his talents to South Beach, is averaging 18 ppg and shooting the three ball well, knocking em down at a 40 percent clip.
Drafted 45th overall by the Spurs and subsequently traded to the Phoenix Suns, Dragic has played for the Suns, Rockets, and Heat in his 12 year career. His most notable season came in 2013-14 when he was selected Third Team All NBA and was the NBA’s Most Improved player.
Backup : Malcolm Brogdon
With the arrival of the hater of hair salons, Eric Bledsoe, The President has been relegated to a bench role and adjustment will be key. As Matt Velazquez notes, Malcolm Brogdon has seen his scoring average (-6.9), assists (-2.9), shooting percentage (-12.6), and three point percentage (-14) all dip since the move to the bench.
The highly intelligent Brogdon was selected 36th overall out of the University of Virginia. Brogdon had a productive rookie season, which led him to receive 64 first place votes for Rookie of the Year, beating out Joel Embiid and Dario Saric.
SG: Danny Green
Backup: Manu Ginobili
Suprise, suprise, the Spurs are off to a strong start despite the absence of their best player, sitting third out West at 14-7.
Green continues to be an excellent wing defender, plus his scoring is up this season (10.3ppg). A “3 and D” prototype, Green’s three point percentage (38.5%) is his highest mark since 2014-15. He is backed up by the Argentinian Bat Swatter, Manu Ginobili. As he’s done exceptionally over the years, the 40 year old Ginobili provides a mix of scoring punch and playmaking for the Spurs in 20 minutes per game.
As Ginobili’s illustrious career winds down, it’s a real testament to the Spurs for finding Ginobili at 57th overall in 1999. To snag a two time All Star and Four time Champion with the third last pick is pretty incredible. As for Green, he arrived to San Antonio in 2010 as a free agent, after he was released by Cleveland who drafted him 46th in 2009.
SF: Khris Middleton
The 26 year old Middleton has taken on a larger offensive role for the Bucks this season, attempting 5 more shots per game and increasing his scoring average from 14.7 to 19.3. His three point percentage has taken a severe decline with the uptick in shots, dropping ten points to 33.7%(however he’s shooting the ball extremely well over the last couple weeks).
The 11-9 Bucks are sorting through their rotation and Middleton’s production will be crucial for them as they try to climb up the Eastern Conference ranks.
Drafted by the Detroit Pistons at 39th overall, Middleton was involved in a swap that saw Brandon Jennings go to Detroit with Middleton and Brandon Knight heading to Milwaukee.
In 5 seasons with Milwaukee, Middleton has played solid defense and has provided reliable three point shooting.
Backup: Trevor Ariza
Ariza continues to launch an absurd amount of three point shots for the Explosive Rockets. Taking an astonishing 7.1 threes per game, Ariza has converted triples at a 38% clip in the 19 games he has started for the 17-4 Rockets.
Selected 43rd by the New York Knicks in 2004, Ariza was acquired by the Lakers in 2007. While with the Lakers, Ariza was a part of the 2008/2009 title team appearing in all 82 and averaging 8.9 ppg in 24 minutes per game.
PF: Draymond Green
Money 23 Green is back to trash-talking, entertaining, defending 1-thru-5, and stuffing the stat sheet through 21 games. His point, rebound, assist, and steal numbers are almost identical to last season, but Green has shot the ball much better after a dismal shooting effort last season.
Green’s effective field goal percentage has climbed four points from last year’s paltry 48%, although he is still three percentage points below his career high in 2016-17.
Green has also maintained his penchant for pissing off the officials, having been whistled for a league best 6 techs, tied with you guessed it, Boogie Cousins.
Taken 35th overall in 2012, Day – Day can recite every player selected before Bob Myers nabbed the Michigan State product.
Green was part of a landmark draft class that saw the Warriors select Harrison Barnes at #7 and Festus Ezeli at #30.
Backup: Paul Millsap
Unfortunately for the Nuggets and Paul Millsap, the 16 game tease where the Nuggets starting 5 obliterated opponents is put on hold due to injury.
Before Millsap went down with his current wrist injury, the 5 man group of Jokic, Millsap, Chandler, Harris, and Murray had a 112.5 offensive rating and 100.5 defensive rating, resulting in a fantastic +12 net rating. That mark is third best in the league for lineups that have played at least 14 games, trailing only the Warriors, Wizards, and Rockets.
Taken in 2006 at 47th overall by the Utah Jazz, Paul Millsap played the first 7 seasons of his career in Utah, developing his game to become one of the best at his position. Millsap signed with the Hawks in free agency in 2015, which led to the most successful stretch of his career.
An All Star all four seasons with the Hawks, Millsap averaged a career high 18.1 ppg last season.
C: Nikola Jokic
A reason for the Nuggets starting unit’s effectiveness can be contributed in large part to the work of a Joker.
The 22 year old Jokic’s dominance is no laughing matter, however….
Averaging a career high in rebounds at 11 per game, Nikola has also made a Serbian-size leap forward from the three point line increasing his percentage 8 points to 40.6% on 3.5 attempts per game. He continues to dazzle fans with his dime dropping, and he is also averaging 1.5 steals per game on the young season.
At 41st overall the Nuggets found themselves a keeper in 2014 with Jokic. There are questions concerning building a team around Jokic, but the guy is an offensive magician, capable of making passes that few even see, let alone attempt.
He sprained his ankle last night, but hopefully he’ll be back on the court soon.
Backup: Marc Gasol
For the struggling Grizzlies, who have lost 9 in a row and are currently sitting at 7-13, things have spun out of control fast. Just last season, Coach Fizdale gave us an all time rant about how Memphis “aint gon be rooked” and that the refs “can take that for data” as the team played an inspired first round series against the San Antonio Spurs. Memphis must try and turn things around without their point guard Mike Conley, sidelined another 2-3 weeks.
The assertion of Memphis’ demise seem a bit premature, and hopefully they will return to their winning ways soon. The Grit and Grind era has been wonderful, with Gasol’s contribution no small part.
Since being taken with the 48th pick in 2007 by the Lakers, then traded for his brother, Gasol has seen Memphis be in the playoffs every year since 2011.