Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rotation Guys: Uncovering the Mysteries of the 2nd Round

RFH Collective Guest Contributor Ryan Mahanna provides us with a look at the 2nd round of the NBA Draft, past and present.

Chalmers showed us a 2nd rounder can contribute on the highest of levels.

I think everyone in the basketball world has made it painfully clear that the 2011 NBA Draft is potentially an all-time stinker. All the negativity has really bummed me out. I was mildly excited that the Celtics were picking 25th in a draft where there isn't much separation between the 5th pick and the 55th pick and Boston has been successful in that position in recent history. Then Danny Ainge severely curbed my enthusiasm by pointing out the fact that players drafted 25th in the NBA draft have become rotation players 6% of the time and there was no point in sticking Doc Rivers with young players. Awesome. Considering the fact that Danny Ainge is one of the sneakiest Mormons ever, I am sure he has something up his sleeve and I think I know what it is....



David "Rotation" Lighty
In a sport where there are limited roster spots every year and only 5 positions are in play, the NBA draft can be a lot of work that ends up with very few results to show for it. Isn't every team picking after the 14th pick just hoping to get a rotation player? In the past, when teams could select players out of high school and the really savvy front offices were stowing away international talent, it was possible to get an all-star outside of the lottery. Not so much anymore.

The reason Danny Ainge isn't thrilled with the 25th pick is because he has fully embraced the potential value of the 2nd round. Typically considered a scrap heap of talent, I believe teams that consistently find gems in the 2nd round can build a roster that feature loyal, home grown role-players and a fiscally responsible payroll. The question is how does a team target these players and what separates them from the dozens of 2nd round picks that never make it? I took a look back at the past 10 years of the 2nd round and picked out the players that are still playing and have averaged more than 10 min per game in their career. They are what I consider "rotation guys". Also, I did not include international or high school players in this list (I think it is safe to say Manu Ginobli would have been selected before the 60th pick if he came out in 2011).

Draft Year
Player
NBA MPG
Years in College
BCS Conference
2010
Luke Harangody
19.1 (cle)
4
Yes
Landry Fields
31.4
4
Yes
2009
DeJuan Blair
19.8
2
Yes
Sam Young
18.0
4
Yes
Patty Mills
11.0
2
No
Chase Budinger
20.8
3
Yes
Marcus Thornton
24.3
2
Yes
Jodie Meeks
20.3
3
Yes
AJ Price
15.9
3
Yes
Wes Matthews
29.2
4
Yes
2008
Chris Douglas Roberts
20.8
3
No
Mario Chalmers
26.9
3
Yes
2007
Glen Davis
20.8
3
Yes
Josh McRoberts
15.5
2
Yes
Ramon Sessions
25.0
3
Yes
2006
Daniel Gibson
23.6
2
Yes
Leon Powe
14.0
3
Yes
Paul Milsap
25.9
3
No
2005
Brandon Bass
18.2
2
Yes
2004
Trevor Ariza
24.9
1
Yes
2003
Jason Kapono
18.3
4
Yes
Luke Walton
17.5
4
Yes
Steve Blake
25.0
4
Yes
Keith Bogans
22.2
4
Yes
Matt Bonner
18.7
4
No
Mo Williams
30.6
2
Yes
Kyle Korver
24.4
4
No
2002
Roger Mason
18.7
3
Yes
Carlos Boozer
32.6
3
Yes
Matt Barnes
21.2
4
Yes
Rasual Butler
24.0
4
No
2001
Gilbert Arenas
35.8
2
Yes
Brian Scalabrine
13.5
3
Yes
Earl Watson
23.1
4
Yes

After looking at the list of 2nd rounders that have become rotation guys in the NBA, I was able to find some common threads that might be helpful when evaluating talent in this round. Of the 34 players on the chart above, only 6 of them came from non-BCS conference schools. If they did come from a mid-major school, they came with a very elite skill (perimeter shooting or rebounding) or they came from Calipari's Memphis (not exactly a mid-major). Also, of the rotation guys, only 7 of the 34 players played fewer than 3 years of college basketball. Players with a higher level of maturity and experience are quicker to adapt to what an NBA team wants from them and willing to fill a need. The biggest imposter on this list is Patty Mills and he fittingly played only two years of college ball and played at a mid-major school.

24 of the 34 players to make this list are guards and wings and everyone of them are relatively efficient shot-makers/scorers . Very few post players that aren't selected the 1st round make it very long in the league (sorry, Rick Jackson). On average, NBA franchises can expect 4-5 players from the 2nd round each year to be a potential rotation guy, which really isn't all that different from the bottom half of the 1st round. Here are some of the 2nd round locks this year that could find there way into a rotation.

Nolan Smith - Sr. -Duke
- NBA/Duke pedigree, ability to adapt to a roster, can play both guards spots, will defend and has played at a very high-level for four years.

Jimmy Butler - Jr. - Marquette -
Can guard 3s and stretch 4's, plays with grit and toughness, will find scoring opportunities in a variety of ways, can take tough coaching.

David Lighty - Sr. - Ohio St. -
Can defend all perimeter positions, very efficient scorer/shot-maker, willing passer, grown-man maturity.

Isaiah Thomas - Jr. - Washington - Instant offense bench-scorer, can play in high-tempo and pick-and-roll offenses, stock rising for quick 5'9 PGs right now (he can thank Juan Jose).

Richard Nixon Jr.
Chandler Parsons - Sr. - Florida - Has the size to translate into a stretch 4 in the NBA, played in a pro-style half-court offense at Florida, good enough ball handler and athlete to get his own shot. Not sure what the difference between him and Mike Dunleavy are, yet Dunleavy was the 3rd overall pick. (Editor's note: Ryan has clearly been blinded by his hatred of all-things Duke. Dunleavy is 10X better than Parsons.)

Other players such as Boston College's Reggie Jackson or Wisconsin's Jon Leuer could be selected 22-30 but if they slip into the 2nd round they would be great value-picks. Ultimately, that is Danny Ainge's point about picking 25th, it is no different than picking 35th and it is more expensive which matters for a franchise like Boston where every penny counts. I am not sure if it is a good or bad thing that I am excited for the 2nd round but it will be interesting to see if some teams find rotation guys while others waste away the pick.

7 comments:

Charlie Widdoes said...

Thank you, Ryan. I cannot tell you how often I have hoped for a breakdown of the draft like this, one that exposes the myth that pick 20 is really much different from an early 2nd-rounder (not to mention the non-guaranteed contracts). Clips have two picks in the 2nd this year and even if they don;t pick up another in a trade, I'm excited about the opportunities that exist.

Sumner Widdoes said...

I know he's probably gonna get drafted because he's really short, but former A-10 player of the year and JJ Barea SUPERCLONE Kevin Anderson needs to be on a playoff roster. Figure it out, Pat Riley.

Ryan Mahanna said...

Thanks Charlie, I have always been intrigued with the second round...there is some blog talk about teams on the 20s trying to nab/buy the Clippers picks from them so obviously other teams feel like there is something there, should interesting...

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