Hitting that home run in the second round of the NBA Draft is like closing your eyes and swatting a fly in a warehouse. There aren’t really any sure things. But there are great players to be found. I don’t think I need to list any, but I of course will: DeJuan Blair, Manu Ginobili, Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd, Paul Millsap, Anderson Varejao, Nick Van Exel, Rashard Lewis, Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, Gilbert Arenas – the list could go on and on.
So with the Thunder holding some 47 draft picks this year, assuming they choose to hold on to all of them, there’s a better than usual chance for OKC to find the elusive diamond in the poo. So I’ve compiled a short list of players that might deserve a look with one of those second rounders. These guys could very well never seen anything other than Greece or Israel. But maybe they’re the next big thing from the second round. It’s a total crapshoot, the second round is.
Andy Rautins – 6’5, SG, Syracuse
Rautins is an excellent shooter. He’s got some size and some length. Two things hurt him: He played in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone so we have no idea what kind of defender he is and along those same lines, who/what can he defend? He’s caught a little between point guard and shooting guard and doesn’t really fit in either category. But he’s a solid passer (4.9 apg his senior year) and a dead-eye shooter. He’s best coming off screens and has a great off-balance release. The Thunder need a guy to hit something from the outside and really just serve as a specialist. I think Rautins could be that guy. But he could also very well be a five-time All-Star for Barcelona. Guys like him don’t always work out. Kyle Korver has. Steve Novak really hasn’t. Rautins is somewhere in between that.
Remember Robert Vaden?
Vaden was taken by the Thunder 54th overall in the 2009 draft. He was seen as a scorer that could light it up from the outside. He’s one of those examples of a guy that might work out eventually, but he didn’t immediately. After draft night, I remember people talking about Vaden filling a need and potentially helping the Thunder. It’s easy to do the day after. But the reality often is that he’ll never play. Second rounders don’t often make rosters, especially the ones taken in the lower realm of it.
However, in Europe this past year Vaden averaged 16.9 ppg and shot 40 percent from 3. He’ll probably be on the Thunder’s summer league team and might have a chance to prove his worth again. The reason I bring him up is just because we can get caught up talking about who can help and who’s a good fit. DeVon Hardin, another second rounder, is another good example of this. Big body, strong but raw offensively. Sounds familiar, right? Often times, even though on paper it looked good, it just doesn’t work out. At least immediately. And potentially never. That’s why they’re second round picks.
Dexter Pittman – 6’11, C, Texas
Pittman was a BIG underachiever (pun sorta intended) at Texas. He has some unique gifts and decent athleticism for his size. He lost a ton of weight and actually had a pretty good physique for his senior year. At times, he looked like one of the best big men in the country. But as mediocre players are prone to do, he’d also disappear, get in foul trouble and toss up a major stinker in a big game. He’s also a question to put on 50 pounds in an offseason. But he’s a big, big man. He’s tough to move off the block, has good hands and finishes well. He’s the kind of guy that you can maybe stuff on the block for 10 minutes a night to push around on Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. Maybe.
Trevor Booker – 6’8, PF, Clemson
I secretly like Trevor Booker a lot. He’s strong, quick, mean, works hard, has 3-point range, has a big wingspan and can defend. His cons are that he’s a little small in stature and raw offensively in the post. But I see Booker as the kind of player that will work his butt off for you, fight hard on the glass, block some shots, bang with any big you put up against him and will be good for at least one awesome putback a night. He’s almost like a smaller Serge Ibaka with less offensive upside. If he were three inches taller, I think he’d be a lottery pick.
Gani Lawal – 6’9, PF, Georgia Tech
A lot of people liked OKC taking Lawal with its second first round pick last season. But Lawal went back for another year and didn’t really help himself all that much. His offensive game is raw, he doesn’t have range outside of the paint and was one of those “disappear randomly” guys. But he’s gifted around the basket, has good hands and could turn into a good interior defender. That’s what I see in guys like Pittman, Booker and Lawal – the ability to eventually be able to defend bigs on another team, or at least push them around some.
Jon Scheyer – 6’6, combo guard, Duke
Did you know Scheyer was 6’6? I didn’t. I thought he was more like 6’4. But he’s a guy that can shoot, can handle and get even get to the rim. He could run point or play off the ball. Obviously again, like Rautins, you wonder if he could defend Kobe Bryant, but as for a marksman with other abilities, Scheyer could fit.
There are five other players I’ll highlight too in a week or so, so just consider this part one. Again, I’m not saying these guys are going to be home runs. But when looking at trying to find that diamond that could fit and work out for you, I think these five fit the bill – at least better than most of the others in the pool.