2014 NBA 2nd-Round Draft Picks You Need to Know Next Season
When the 2013 NBA draft class entered the ranks of the NBA, it was pretty clear that the group of players was a shallow one. Chances were, the second round wasn't going to produce many immediate contributors, and it didn't.
In fact, only four players suited up in at least half of their team's games while playing 10 or more minutes per contest:
- Ray McCallum, who emerged as a solid point guard for the Sacramento Kings.
- Nate Wolters, one of my personal favorites, who became a quality contributor for the struggling Milwaukee Bucks.
- Jeff Withey, who received limited playing time with the New Orleans Pelicans.
- Ryan Kelly, who spent time on the court both because he was a nice pick and because the Los Angeles Lakers didn't have many healthy options
Of the 30 picks, only four managed to qualify based on the above criteria. Only half of the selections even suited up in an NBA uniform.
But that won't be the case in 2014. The most recent class is significantly deeper, with general managers picking up quality contributors late in the proceedings. Rather than seeing the second round filled with international picks and high-upside fliers (which were certainly selected at times), there were also plenty of experienced players who can make an immediate impact in the Association.
Familiarizing yourself with first-round prospects is always a good idea; this year, the same is true for the second-round guys.
The five featured players in this article will all make as much, or more, of an impact as each of the four guys listed up above. They won't be the only ones to play at least 10 minutes per game, though.
Team: New York Knicks
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks (for Wichita State)
It's hard to view Cleanthony Early as anything but a perfect fit for the New York Knicks, as Kevin Armstrong explained for the New York Daily News:
Whether it was knocking down 3-pointers on pick-and-pop possessions or throwing touch passes from the high post, Early excelled in the areas of the game Jackson prizes. He will bring an interesting outlook to the Knicks locker room, as well, engaging anyone and everyone in conversation, quoting Buddha, reading “The Art of Seduction” and embracing the challenging positions of yoga. Once an immature student with a Steven Seagal ponytail at Pine Bush High in Orange County, Early kept an open mind on his journeys through prep school, junior college and a Final Four run at Wichita State. There are elements to his life that dovetail with Jackson’s spiritual ways.
Early was one of those players who inexplicably slipped during the draft-day proceedings, falling to the Knicks at No. 34, one of the picks that the 'Bockers picked up in their predraft trade that shipped Tyson Chandler off to the Dallas Mavericks.
Not only do his skills fit in nicely with the triangle offense, which it's easy to assume Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson will be running in 2014-15, but he also brings new elements to the Knicks. He's a solid defender at the 3, capable of holding his own as he transitions to the Association, and his athletic play will also do wonders for him.
The 23-year-old is ready to compete from the opening day of his rookie season, and he'll only get more playing time if Carmelo Anthony spurns New York for a new destination. Add in his ability to play the 4 in a small-ball lineup, and he only gets increasingly appealing.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.2 blocks (for Missouri)
Right off the bat, Jordan Clarkson figures to get playing time because the Los Angeles Lakers don't really have that many players on their roster.
Steve Nash and Kendall Marshall (barring a stretch provision for the former) will likely eat up most of the minutes at point guard, but Kobe Bryant's playing time has to be managed as he continues to age and returns from multiple major injuries. Clarkson could very well earn a large chunk of run while spelling a certain Mamba.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers paid $1.8 million to buy the No. 46 pick from the Washington Wizards. After using it on this Missouri product, they aren't going to let him rot on the bench.
Clarkson only spent one season playing in a major conference after transferring from Tulsa, but he showed off NBA-ready skills with the ball in his hands, slicing up the defense on a consistent basis and keeping his head up to become aware of all his options. His speed is going to transfer to the sport's top level, especially because the combo guard has shown off an innate ability to control his body in traffic.
His success will ultimately depend on his developing jumper, but Clarkson is already set up to receive playing time and thrive as the score-first slasher that the Lakers don't otherwise have on the roster.
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.8 blocks (for Clemson)
The Philadelphia 76ers did not play defense during the 2013-14 campaign.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Philly allowed 109.9 points per 100 possessions last year, a mark that beat out only the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks. And given their league-worst margin of defeat, which left everyone else in the dust, you have to wonder if that number is artificially high, aided by teams taking their foot off the gas in garbage time.
Part of the problem was a complete lack of small forwards who excelled on the defensive end. Opposing 3s put up a player efficiency rating of 16.6 against the Sixers, per 82games.com.
Enter K.J. McDaniels.
The ACC Defensive Player of the Year is an athletic phenom who thrives when he's leaping through the air to block shots from the weak side or locking down his man in a one-on-one setting. He won't record 2.8 rejections per contest in the NBA, but his timing, instincts and lateral quickness will certainly translate to the next level.
"I'm gonna go out there, play my hardest, and give Philly my best," McDaniels said right after the draft, via Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com.
His best may well be the top perimeter defense on the Sixers right from the get-go.
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 15.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.9 blocks (for Tennessee)
Few players in the 2014 draft class fit the "Grit'n'Grind" mentality of the Memphis Grizzlies more than Jarnell Stokes.
He's one of those players with a motor that just never turns off, displaying constant effort on the glass while pounding away against bigger bodies on both ends of the court. Even though the Memphis frontcourt rotation is relatively crowded, Stokes' defined skills and work ethic ensure that he receives playing time during his rookie season.
Stokes was one of the best rebounders in college basketball during the 2013-14 season, and he was particularly dominant on the offensive glass. He's quite adept at forcing his way past box-outs, and his sheer desire leads to him sacrificing his body by getting to rebounds that don't fall within his immediate vicinity.
"Rebounding tends to translate very well from college to the pros and so we’re really confident," John Hollinger, the Memphis vice president of basketball operations, said about Stokes, via Don Wade of The Daily News. "But even more than that, the type of kid he is and the way he plays is very positive in terms of him being able to grow his game."
And as Wade explains, it's not out of the question to make a comparison between the Tennessee product and Zach Randolph, Memphis' incumbent starting power forward:
Stokes, in a perfect world, is Z-Bo’s heir apparent. Randolph stands 6-9 and 260. At UT, Stokes was listed at 6-8 and 260; the Grizzlies list him as 6-9 and 263. Whatever he is, Stokes seems to know how to get the most out of what he has, especially when there is a rebound to be had.
There's a lot of offensive development needed before Stokes can justify the Z-Bo nods, but his rebounding will ensure he gets a chance to do an impression on an NBA court.
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.1 blocks (for San Diego State)
The Brooklyn Nets, whose depth is thinning out after the departure of Shaun Livingston and could continue doing so if Paul Pierce leaves for a new franchise, are going to end up using both of their second-round picks. But while Markel Brown, who was picked 15 spots ahead of Xavier Thames, could very well earn a large role, it's the San Diego State product who will make more of an impact.
Why? It's all about the ability to play both positions.
Brown is a true shooting guard, even if he's only 6'3". His athleticism and explosive play will make him into an off-ball slasher at the next level, and he's not as likely to line up at the 1 and lead an offense.
To be fair, Thames didn't exactly thrive as a distributor for the Aztecs. However, this 6'3" guard is fully capable of controlling the rock and helping his teammates earn good looks. This facet of his game got better throughout his collegiate career, seeing his turnovers drop despite him taking on more of a featured role on offense.
It took the 23-year-old a while to learn how he could play as a No. 1 scorer and keep involving his teammates, but he got there before his tenure at San Diego State drew to a close. His assist-to-turnover ratio bodes well for the transition, even if he'll have more trouble thriving as a scorer while with the Nets.
Chances are both second-round guards will make an impact. But with a dire need for a capable backup at both guard positions, the nod is going to the prospect with the better shot at lining up at both slots.