Hitting on second round picks can mean the difference between a good and great team. There are plenty of examples of second round picks lifting franchises to new heights, like Draymond Green and Manu Ginobili did for the Warriors and Spurs, respectively. Late picks can even yield unexpected stars like Isaiah Thomas.
The fact is, second round picks are far from the pointless formalities many think of them as. In such a deep draft, there are plenty of teams who need to draft well after the high-profile prospects have come and gone. Here are some fun possibilities for second round picks on Thursday.
Pick 31: Charlotte
Charlotte just acquired this pick in a trade with Atlanta on Tuesday that also netted the Hornets Dwight Howard. There must be some specific reason Charlotte made this trade, beyond upgrading the center position from Cody Zeller to Howard. Perhaps Charlotte sees a first round talent that could slip to the second round.
Power forward Jonah Bolden is that player. The Australian has a greater pedigree than many international prospects, having been a player for UCLA before heading overseas last season. His athleticism and shooting are eye-popping on tape, and he would appear to be destined to at least be a productive NBA player for his career.
Charlotte already has a crowded frontcourt, but Bolden is so talented that he could have gone in the lottery if he had stayed at UCLA and played the way he did. If Charlotte wants to go more in the wing/shooting direction, they could go for Villanova’s Josh Hart, or evem SMU’s Semi Ojeleye if he falls further than expected.
No matter what Boston does at the top of the draft, their number one need is in the frontcourt. With the possibility of losing Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller this off-season, the Celtics will look to address their big man needs through production on cheap contracts.
Enter Jordan Bell. After winning the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year award, the 6-9 junior dominated the NCAA Tournament, leading Oregon to the Final Four with his shot blocking and rebounding.
Bell is no joke. He averaged 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game a season ago. He averaged 13.2 rebounds in the tournament, inspiring tweets like the following:
His near triple-double of 11 points, 13 rebounds, eight blocks, and four assists on 5-of-6 shooting against Kansas was a revelation, as Bell was all over the floor.
Bell’s natural talent for rim protection, defensive switches, and offensive rebounding could make him a perfect fit alongside Al Horford in the Celtics’ frontcourt. Bell can switch everything, allowing Horford to play his natural center position, and compete enough on the boards to help Boston’s rebounding problems.
Ivan Rabb is another possibility here due to his rebounding ability.
40: New Orleans
The Pelicans really just need NBA-level perimeter players. They need shooting and passing ability to go with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins up front, but anything would be an upgrade.
Kansas State’s Wesley Iwundu is a player who has been criminally underrated in the evaluation process. He’s an excellent, long athlete who can guard multiple positions and take the ball coast to coast. Most importantly, he’s a very good passer, and should be able to shoot well enough to open things up for Davis and Cousins.
If New Orleans wants to go more in the shooting direction, they could go for SMU’s Sterling Brown or Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey.
44: New York
Assuming New York goes with a point guard at eight, the Knicks will need to build their team for the future around that guard and Kristaps Porzingis. A great first step would be targeting 3 and D wings to surround their centerpieces.
Florida’s Devin Robinson is another player who is being underrated in mock drafts. Projected in the mid to late second round, the hyper-athletic Robinson could easily be available for New York at 44.
It’s rare to see Robinson attack the rim in space without his head above the rim. His length and athleticism make him a multi-position defender and transition threat, and his three-point shooting has improved to the point that he can be a threat from long range in the NBA.
Josh Hart is another possibility here. The Villanova wing has the pedigree and intangibles to be a fantastic role player. Hart can defend, shoot, and attack the rim in transition, and has never done anything but win games.
Robinson would also be an intriguing fit with Milwaukee as yet another long-limbed athlete. Milwaukee needs more inside presence and a capable playmaking guard, but I believe Sterling Brown is the best player who could be available at this point in the draft.
The Bucks have a chance to become a great team in a few years, thanks to Giannis Antetekounmpo and the stable of versatile athletes Milwaukee’s front office has put around him. But the glaring weakness in the Bucks’ starting five last season was Tony Snell, a player not talented enough on defense to make up for his offensive shortcomings.
Brown has the perfect game as a role player for the Bucks. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, he’s big, strong, and versatile. He works hard on defense, rebounds, and can be an effective passer, averaging 3.7 assists per 40 minutes.
But Brown’s shooting is what really sets him apart. He shot 45% on 136 attempts from long range as a senior, and an incredible 54.2% on 59 attempts on threes from the left side of the court. If Brown can crack the starting lineup, his shooting could open lanes for the Greek Freak to be even more dominant.
The Wizards had huge issues with their bench production this season. It was the biggest reason they lost to the Celtics in the playoffs. John Wall and Bradley Beal had to do all the playmaking, and by the second half of Game 7 against Boston, they were gassed, especially Wall. Washington needs a playmaker off the bench who can spell Wall and Beal and orchestrate the offense in their absence.
Point guard Monte Morris had a great career at Iowa State, and he checks all the boxes Washington needs from its only pick in this draft. Morris is the consummate floor general; he sees all the passing lanes and throws dimes with elite accuracy. He navigates the pick-and-roll well, uses change of pace dribbles, and rarely turns the ball over.
Morris doesn’t really have any glaring weaknesses; he’s an average athlete with limited length, and a capable, but not amazing, shooter. He competes on defense. Washington needs to nail their pick, and Morris is a reliable player for them to target.