The NBA draft came and went last night, and our friends over at Pro Basketball Talk have just about all the content you can handle, evaluating every single pick that was made during the draft. Our own Travis Hines gave you a list of the winners and losers from draft night as well.
Here, I’m going to take a look at the players that were taken late in the draft that will have a chance to become the “How did 30 teams miss on this guy?” star from the second round, as well as a couple names that could go from undrafted to the Next Fred VanVleet.
SECOND ROUND STARS
NIC CLAXTON, Georgia (Brooklyn, 31st)
Claxton was the first pick of the second round, and while it was mildly surprising that he dropped to the second round — he was one of the 22 Green Room invites — Claxton’s rise from relative unknown to NBA player is impressive. What makes him so intriguing is his perimeter ability as a 7-footer. He’s a fluid athlete that is versatile enough to project as a multi-positional defender with the ability to protect the rim while also having enough skill as a ball-handler and a shooter that he can play away from the basket. He’s very much still a longterm project — Claxton has wide shoulders and was a late-bloomer, but he weighs just 217 pounds — but this is a pick that Brooklyn made with minimal downside and the hope that the next Pascal Siakam just fell into their lap.
ERIC PASCHALL, Villanova (Golden State, 41st)
The Warriors have proven themselves quite adept at finding talent that can contribute in the second round in recent years. Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw were all second round picks, while Kevon Looney and Damian Jones were the last pick in the first round. I think Paschall is another guy that fits that mold. He’s an explosive athlete that, at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, can guard a number of different positions at the NBA level. He’s not a great three-point shooter, but he has proven the ability to get hot and managed to make 35% of his threes as a senior. More importantly, he spent the last three years thriving in a Villanova system that prioritizes many of the things that Golden State’s offense does and churns out plenty of NBA role players. He should be able to immediately step into their rotation and help, which is basically all you can ask for in this range.
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER, Iowa State (Lakers, 46th)
I have no idea how this pick ended up belonging to the Lakers, but it did, and they landed the youngest prospect in this draft in Horton-Tucker. In an era of positionless basketball, Horton-Tucker is exactly that — at 6-foot-2.5 without shoes with a 7-foot-1.5 wingspan, Horton-Tucker is strong enough to be able to guard fours (he weighs 240 pounds) and skilled enough to be able to act as an initiator offensively. He is a capable shooter that can stand to improve in that area, but the combination of his age and his entirely unique physical profile and skillset makes him more than worth the risk in the middle of the second round.
TERANCE MANN, Florida State (Clippers, 48th)
The Clippers added a pair of Seminoles that will help them. Getting Mfiondu Kabengele at 27th is terrific value, as is scooping up Mann at 48th. Mann doesn’t do one thing at an elite level unless you consider “does everything well” a skill. He’ll be able to guard multiple positions at the NBA level, he’s tough and he’s going to be a worker. If his offensive game can come around to the point that he has to be guarded at the three-point line, he has some real 3-and-D potential. But there is a lot to like about his physical tools and his approach to the game.
JORDAN BONE, Tennessee (Detroit, 57th)
Bone is the best athlete in this draft not named Zion Williamson. He make not have thrown down the dunks that Ja Morant threw down this year, but when it comes to all-around athleticism — all of those drills that players get tested on during the combine — Bone is second-to-none at the lead guard spot. He can shoot it, he can handle the ball, he has a high basketball IQ, he can pass and he has good positional size at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds. He’s also tough as nails, a winner and one of the guys that willed Tennessee into being the best program in the SEC the last two seasons. There is a place for him in the NBA.
Our friend Kurt Helin over at Pro Basketball Talk put together a list of the top ten players that were not drafted on Thursday night, and it’s tough to disagree with any of his choices. I think it’s also important to note that some of these decisions were likely the result of players ‘betting on themselves,’ asking teams not to draft them in order to sign with what they believed to be the best place for them to land.
I do, however, want to make two additions to this list.
PHIL BOOTH, Villanova
Anyone reading this space knows how much I love Booth specifically and the players that come out of the Villanova program in general. I think that he has a real chance to latch on as a rotation player somewhere in the NBA. He has NBA range, he can play on or off the ball and he should, at the least, be a capable defender in the league. I do think there’s a job for him at the next level.
CHARLES MATTHEWS, Michigan
Before he tore his ACL, Matthews was having a terrific pre-draft. He was in the midst of proving himself as one of, if not the best wing defender in this draft class. I don’t expect that to change because of the ACL, and when he gets healthy again, I think that he’ll be able to find a way to get onto a roster.