We all know the story behind Isiah Thomas. Selected 60th overall in the 2011 draft and shopped around the NBA until he found a home on the Celtics Roster. Thomas is one of the more recent stories we see of a player outperforming his draft value. A rookie selected in the second round already is faced with an uphill climb in terms of making an NBA roster. Yet, we continue to see players refusing to let dropping on the draft board hinder their production on the court.
The 2017 NBA Draft was brimming with prospects from selection number one all the way down to the 60th selection. That being said, several rookies taken in the second-round now have an opportunity to prove their worth. Whether that be in training camp or in the Summer League, these second-rounders must impress right off the bat. Of these late selections, a select few stand out as having a good chance of bringing a solid contribution to their respective teams.
Davon Reed – SG – Phoenix Suns
Reed joins a backcourt that is flooded with offensive firepower and offers added youth to an already young squad. With Eric Bledsoe’s contract expiring next season, adding another guard like Reed can give the Suns an easy decision next summer letting Bledsoe walk. Thus thinning out the backcourt for the future. Leandro Barbosa is the only other shooting guard that the Suns carry on their roster going into next season. Barbosa could give up his minutes to Reed if Reed has a strong summer.
Reed brings perimeter versatility to Pheonix after four years of playing days at the University of Miami. With a wingspan of 7’0″, Reed can come off the bench in relief of Devin Booker and although he may not have the offensive skillset as Booker, his versatility makes him an asset to have out on the floor. As Reed gets more comfortable in the offense and speed of the NBA, his contributions should be seen early on. Being a valuable commodity as a “three-and-d” begs for a player like Reed to see the floor as much as possible in his rookie campaign.
Semi Ojeleye – SF- Boston Celtics
In his time at SMU, Ojeleye showed the ability to enforce his will on opponents with both size and athleticism. His size at 6’7″ and weight of 241, asks the question of “what he will be in the NBA?”. Ojeleye, may not be the greatest of defenders as his wide frame and sloppy footwork limits his ability to close out on shooters hanging around the perimeter. That being said, Ojeleye was a fairly reliable shooter at SMU shooting 42% from deep last season. With Ojeleye not having a true position and questions raising about his defensive skills caused him to fall into the second round. If he wants to see the floor in his rookie season, he will have to prove it in the summer by showing his ability to move laterally and to keep his hands off defenders when they try to blow by him.
The versatility in Ojeleye’s game attracted the Celtics towards drafting him in second-round. As stated before his game is a hybrid of both explosiveness and strength. In a benefit to Ojeleye, his ability to play positions from point guard to small forward gives coach Brad Stevens a multitude of ways to incorporate Ojeleye into the rotation off the bench. With teammates such as Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and fellow rookie Jayson Tatum they all bring a certain niche to this Celtics side that allows them to play positionless basketball. In having players like this, it creates a new brand of basketball that allows each player to play within their own strengths on the offensive end.
Sterling Brown – SG – Milwaukee Bucks
That is correct, yet another SMU Mustangs is set to bring value to an NBA roster. Sterling Brown brings his sweet shooting stroke to Milwaukee where he will have to earn every second of playing time. In today’s NBA, where shooting is becoming an almost irreplaceable commodity, drafting a player like Brown can prove to be a wise addition. In Brown’s final season at SMU, he was able to score 13.2 points per game while shooting 45% from the field. Those may not be glaring stats but his offensive skill set translates very well to the NBA. In isolation situations, Brown is able to get to the spot he wants with a myriad of dribble moves.
The offensive prowess that Brown obtains is what got him looks by several GM’s, but what got him drafted and will keep Brown on an NBA roster is his active hands on defense. In his senior year, Brown got his hands on 1.5 steals per game and he showed an intensity and physicality that is needed to hang around in today’s NBA. At 6’6″ he is the prototypical height for a shooting guard with slight possibilities of playing at small forward. An NBA roster will always have room for players who can hit the three ball and play defense, that bodes well for Brown. Brown will have to prove his worth and compete in the Summer league and if he makes the roster could light a fire under recently extended Tony Snell.
Monte Morris – PG – Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets needed to address the backcourt this offseason and landed what could be a gem in the second round with Monte Morris. Morris who stayed all four years at Iowa State, increased his production each year and really rounded out his overall game. He has great court vision and is able to control the tempo of the game when the ball is in his hands. His good decision making led to Morris averaging 5.5 assists per game in four years with the Cyclones, and only averaged 1.2 turnovers per game. Having a point guard who has proper decision making is not something that comes around often and something that coaches and GM’s value greatly. The physical part of the game of basketball is demanding, but the mental aspect can be just as grueling and something that Morris exhibits greatly.
Much can be said about Morris as the facilitator but his scoring ability should not be overlooked. He shot a career 47% from the field and has the ability to hit from deep as well as penetrate inside and score amongst the trees. His quickness allows for him to take his opponent off the dribble and draw a help defender where he either can take him on one on one or dish it to an open teammate. If given the opportunity to hit the floor for the Nuggets in the upcoming year, Morris could show glimpses of being a staple in the Nuggets future plans.