“With The 31st Pick…”

07.02.09 10 years ago 9 Comments

Only a few second-rounders from the 2009 NBA Draft justify the “slept-on” label. DeJuan Blair slipped to the Spurs at pick No. 37 (of course), and Outback trailblazer Patty Mills plummeted all the way to No. 55 before getting seized by the Trail Blazers (of course), and also respect to Sam Young and Jermaine Taylor.

As for the rest, “carry-on” is probably more appropriate — before you get too attached to your second-round additions, you should get to know the second round:

It’s been 20 years since the perpetually grinning David Stern & Co. consolidated the NBA Draft into a two-round format. Who cares? Sherman Douglas, Toni Kukoc, Rashard Lewis, God Shammgod, and, of course, Ben Pepper. These five players represent the impact potential of the second round: a journeyman (Douglas); a legit role player (Kukoc); an All-Star (Lewis); a cat whose name you might recognize at a party, without realizing that he played only 146 minutes in the League (Shammgod); and a guy whose name you’ll never recognize, knowing for sure that he never logged an NBA minute (Pepper).

And before you start screaming about legit game-changers like Agent Zero or Ginobili — picks No.31 and No.57, respectively — consider this: Of the 453 players plucked in the second round from 1989 to 2004, more than 65 percent were bounced from the league in three years or fewer, about 30 percent never made an NBA roster, and only two percent became All-Stars. Unlike the NFL Draft, in which a first-ballot Adonis like Tom Brady can slip to pick No.199, the round-to-round player potential in the NBA Draft is pretty predictable, which makes your prayers for finding gold in the second round about as realistic as me securing a tryst in Saint-Tropez with Giselle.

But here’s what it all boils down to: Year after year, there are only about five bona fide contributors drafted in the second round, which means about 85 percent of the players selected in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft will be busts. What makes a player a “bona fide contributor?” According to my consigliere, aka Frozen Chozen, a player’s minutes can offer a quick and dirty gauge. Enter Haywoode Workman.

Workman was drafted in 1989 and played eight seasons in the League for five teams. He had a few serviceable seasons (8, 5 and 3 in ’90-’91). Most importantly, he logged about 7,000 minutes — a barrier which, after looking at the careers of second-rounders taken from ’89-’04, appears to be a solid minimum for eyeballing whether a player had/will have a career worth remembering.

Which type of player did your squad snag last week? Almost certainly a God Shammgod or a Ben Pepper — duds. If you’re lucky, you might’ve broken the piñata with a useful but sluggish hustler like Eduardo Najera (he’ll clear 10,000 minutes this year).

As for me, I’m a Timberwolves fan, so I’m accustomed to getting stuck with hapless donkeys, year after year. As described by an editor with the excellent CanisHoopus.com, we Wolves fans are like Charlie Brown — no matter how many times we fall on our ass, we keep trying to kick that damn football. It still remains to be seen whether new GM David Kahn is another Lucy.

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