The second round of the NBA Draft isn’t a place to draft players that a team expects to become stars in the league, but rather players that can fill a certain void that the team has. They tend to usually be players that aren’t expected to go in the first round of the draft because of issues off the court or skills that worked well in college that may not exactly transition well into the NBA, such as a slower shot. Unsurprisingly, it is for these reasons that these prospects and their drafting rights are valued much less than prospects drafted in the first round.
Originally, this article was going to talk about why the Memphis Grizzlies should try to get into the second round of this year’s NBA Draft. Since the team traded their 2014 second round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012 in a trade to acquire D.J. Kennedy, they will most likely not be drafting in the latter half of the draft this year. However, the second round benefits teams that are either fully committed to rebuilding and teams that are strong contenders for the title more than the teams in between those two extremes, such as the Grizzlies. Because of this, it seems more proper to discuss the reasons why the Grizzlies shouldn’t worry too much that they don’t have a draft pick in the second round this year.
Depth Isn’t A Problem
A big benefit of having one or many second round picks is that it adds depth to a team’s bench. Second round picks usually only excel at a couple of skills that are desired in NBA players, so they oftentimes make excellent players to come off the bench in order to fill those voids. However, the Grizzlies don’t have much of a need for new backups at this point in time. Between Courtney Lee, Tony Allen, Mike Conley, and Jamaal Franklin, the Grizzlies have very few reasons to need extra picks to draft another guard, except possibly for a better ball handler to back up Conley. Jon Leuer, Kosta Koufos, and Marc Gasol are also going to be returning next season, and it is very unlikely that the Grizzlies lose both Zach Randolph and Ed Davis through free agency, so the power forward and center positions will also likely not need much depth added to them. The Grizzlies only really need to upgrade at the small forward position, and the first round has ample small forwards that can fit the Grizzlies’ needs. The team has no reason to trade down just to fill more roster spaces.
Free Agency May Fill Those Voids, Anyway
Not only are a large chunk of Grizzlies from last season returning next year, but there are a few players that are free agents who very likely may return for another season. Don’t be surprised if Mike Miller returns as the Grizzlies’ key sharpshooter next year, as not only did he seem to enjoy his time returning to Memphis, the place where he started his career, but he also fills one of the Grizzlies’ biggest needs for a consistent shooter beyond the arc. Beno Udrih and James Johnson, while less likely to return, looked very good when they were on the court, so they may have proven to the front office that they are great fits to stay in Memphis.
There are also a ton of excellent free agents this year that can fit any needs the Grizzlies would still have after the draft. Not going into too much detail on specific players that are free agents this offseason, there are enough talented players who will take low enough contracts that, even if Davis and Randolph don’t return, the Grizzlies can either fill their needs through free agency or will have most of their needs filled before the draft, so obtaining second round picks really doesn’t have much of a benefit for the team.
Low Potential For Success
Probably the biggest reason that the Grizzlies shouldn’t enter the second round of the draft this year is also the most obvious downside to players drafted in the second round: they are far from guaranteed to succeed in the NBA. There have been some excellent players that have come from the second round of the NBA Draft, including current stars such as Monta Ellis, Carlos Boozer, Manu Ginobili, and the Grizzlies’ own Gasol. A lot of legends were also second round picks, such as Dennis Rodman and Willis Reed. However, players that have excellent careers that were drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft are few and far between: not only do players drafted in the second round usually not amount to much in the league, but many are out of the NBA fairly quickly.
To put this into perspective, only 13 of the 30 players drafted five years ago in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft played for a professional team last year, while 27 of the 30 players drafted in the first round that year are still on an NBA team. This isn’t something that is very surprising, but it does show that players drafted in the second round usually amount to accomplish less in the NBA. With this next season possibly being the last chance the current team has to win a title, the Grizzlies need to focus on obtaining players who will likely have an immediate impact rather than players that may amount to something in the NBA eventually, so entering the second round of this year’s draft, especially if it means losing their draft pick this year, would be undesirable.