The Las Vegas summer league is right around the corner, and with it, the 2010 NBA rookie class has its first chance to prove itself on the court against real competition.
But while every first-round pick has a guaranteed contract to fall back on in case they struggle, the guys drafted in the second round are essentially fighting for jobs. These are the 10 second-rounders most likely to sign contracts with the team that drafted them:
1. Stanly Robinson (57th pick, Orlando) — Robinson is one of the most athletic players in the draft and could be a real steal for Orlando. Stan Van Gundy preaches defense, and Robinson has the ability to lock down guys on the perimeter. With Matt Barnes a free agent and rumors that Mickael Pietrus could be on his way out of town, Robinson should be with the Magic in November.
2. Andy Rautins (38th pick, New York) — Rautins is an ideal fit for the Knicks: an excellent shooter who doesn’t excel on the defensive end, kind of like a shorter version of Danilo Gallinari. Mike D’Antoni is clearly a huge fan, because Rautins was not expected to get drafted. And with the Knicks gutting their roster in hopes of attracting two max free agents, there is sure to be a spot for Rautins.
3. Hassan Whiteside (33rd pick, Sacramento) — If any second-rounder was ever guaranteed to have a contract, it’s Whiteside. Hassan was projected to be a Lottery pick, and has Lottery talent for a team in Sacramento that needs help up front. Despite the fact that they drafted DeMarcus Cousins and traded for Sam Dalembert, Whiteside will agree to a contract soon because his talent is undeniable. He may spend time in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns, but will certainly be signed by Sacramento.
4. Terrico White (36th pick, Detroit) — White is an incredibly athletic combo guard capable of handling the point. With Detroit lacking a natural point guard, White gives them some flexibility at the position where they can possibly shift Rodney Stuckey over to the two in certain situations. White also provides depth when/if the Pistons decide to trade Rip Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince.
5. Gani Lawal (46th pick, Phoenix) — While it looks likely that Amar’e Stoudemire will leave Phoenix, another Suns’ power forward’s free agency will ensure Lawal a spot on the team. Stoudemire’s backup, Louis Amundson, is a free agent and is due a raise. Amundson is your classic mucker who rebounds and does all the dirty work, and Lawal is the same type of player. Given Robert Sarver’s penchant for saving money, Lawal will be a cheaper version of Amundson for Phoenix next year.
6. Devin Ebanks (43rd pick, L.A. Lakers) — Ebanks slid out of the first round but fell into a perfect situation in L.A. Ebanks is a defensive stopper who can be Ron Artest’s backup next season and provide the same type of defensive intensity for L.A. With Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar likely on their way out, the Lakers will be sure to hold on to this first-round talent to help replace them on the bench.
7. Jarvis Varnado (41st pick, Miami) — The Heat currently have two players under contract in Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers. Once they re-sign Dwyane Wade and maybe a sidekick or two, that leaves them with five players and lots of roster spots to fill. Varnado should easily find a role, as he provides an excellent defensive presence with his long arms and shot-blocking ability.
8. Dexter Pittman (32nd pick, Miami) — As mentioned above with Varnado, the Heat only have two players on the roster. While they probably reached a bit taking Pittman at No. 32 and he needs to lose some significant weight, if the Heat thought enough of him to take him with the second pick in the second round, he will almost surely be with the team on opening night.
9. Lance Stephenson (40th pick, Indiana) — Despite the glut of wing players the Pacers have on their roster with Danny Granger, Paul George, Brandon Rush, and Dahntay Jones, Stephenson’s potential is too high for the Pacers not to sign him. However, even though Indiana will sign him, that doesn’t mean they won’t field trade offers for him in a possible attempt to get point guard or frontcourt depth.
10. Ryan Richards (49th pick, San Antonio) — As my colleague Adam Flomenbaum posted the other day, when the Spurs take an international player, you don’t question them. Richards has a lot of potential, and while he probably won’t make an impact this year, he’s already stated he doesn’t want to play in Europe and will likely end up on the Spurs’ D-League affiliate in Austin, Texas.