The Pistons have traditionally had success in the second round, although a front office transition from Joe Dumars to Stan Van Gundy will likely have an impact. Still though, it's unlikely that it was Dumars himself who identified Khris Middleton, Kyle Singler, or Jonas Jerebko, rather the fine work of the scouting team who presumably has been in place and working through the leadership transition.
In his FanPost on Peyton Siva, DBB member MrHappyMushroom did some great research on second round picks over the past 25 years. He concluded that ten percent of draft picks selected with the top ten picks in the second round went on to become legitimate NBA starters, 28 percent became role players, and 62 percent failed to make a mark in the league.
It's fantastic work, be sure to give it a read if you haven't already.
So what should we look for in a player potentially being in the 38 percent who are able to stick around in the league?
Over the past four NBA drafts, 120 players have been drafted. Of these, 23 have been relatively successful players. They've played around 1,000 minutes per year, they have been over .04 win shares per 48 minutes or so, and generally look like they'll be able to carve out careers in the league. This is only 18 percent, so quite a bit less than MHM's figures. Part of this is because this one is looking at performance - just getting some minutes isn't enough to make the list. Sorry Doron Lamb. Also, there were some really weak second rounds. For instance, only three players out of 2010's second round have cracked 900 career minutes.
Lastly, only looking at the past four drafts means that a player has to be able to make an instant impact. After all, it doesn't really do the Pistons much good if the guy goes on to be successful five years from now on some other team.
In these 23 players, there are several clear patterns.
The average number of years these players spent in college was 3.6. Only two underclassmen made the list, Jae Crowder and Lance Stephenson. 74 percent of the players were seniors, and several even had a fifth year of college experience.
A second round pick does not have the same number of chances to prove himself that a lottery pick gets. Consider the successes and failures of second round picks for the Pistons over the past several years. Players like Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler were able to give the team 27 quality minutes per game within their first month in the league. Kim English, a player that many had high hopes for, struggled with his shot, wasn't able to get minutes, and was out of the league after one year.
Even with players who are successful right out of the gate, it's still no sure thing. Khris Middleton showed nice promise, but was a toss-in for the Brandon Knight-Brandon Jennings trade. Vernon Macklin was effective in his limited minutes, but was a roster space casualty. Amir Johnson was dumped in a cost-saving move for Fabricio Oberto.
Overall, the key point is that a low floor should trump a high ceiling.
Since the second round is typically combed for role players, the players need to be able to play a role. Hence the name.
Out of the 23 players, several have emerged as strong all around players like Stephenson, Chandler Parsons, or Isaiah Thomas. But most are specialists, the vast majority being defensive or shooting specialists.
It's no fun using a lottery pick to take a 22 year old defensive specialist. If a jack-of-all-trades has the talent to be successful, he's probably off the board at this point. If he is there, there's a pretty good reason that he fell, usually related to character or school size. But that leaves around many of the guys who are able to do one thing really well, but are average at best across the rest of the board.
Second rounders need to fill gaps if they're going to stick around. Jeff Withey is a solid example. When Ryan Anderson went down with a neck injury last year, they were desperate for big man help. They gave Withey a chance, and his NBA-ready defense led to him playing in every game the final two months of the season.
Boding well for the Pistons, there are also plenty of shooters who tend to last to the second round. Guys like Ryan Kelly, Khris Middleton, or Landry Fields may have red flags like a lack of athleticism, a recent injury, or being a late bloomer, which keep them from going in the first round.
If you're looking for a point guard, get him before the second round. Only four point guards have particularly made an impact out of the past four drafts, and all are flawed. Isaiah Thomas, Shelvin Mack, Nate Wolters, and Ray McCallum isn't exactly an inspirational list.
But it can be a solid place to find big men, stretch fours, and especially wings. Out of the 23 successful players, 11 were wings - and the most effective players were in this group.
So who are some players who could make sense when the Pistons come up?
Harris perfectly fits the profile of a guy who could be drafted in the second round and be successful. He's a four-year player with one distinct skill: shooting. He finished his career with a 40.7 percent three point percentage. He also has good-enough size, but between concerns about his athleticism and a disappointing senior year, he could still be on the board when the Pistons are up.
Brown is a prospect similar to Harris, but without quite as much history. He was a transfer from Oregon to Missouri and shot 38.6 percent from three over his career. He doesn't have much size and is limited athletically, but has a tough streak that helps compensate.
Another floor-stretching option is Wilcox, who shot 38.9 percent during his career at Washington, as well as a fantastic 84 percent from the stripe. He'll turn 24 in December, making him one of the older players in the draft. He has a similar frame to Brown, but a bit more athleticism.
A four-year player from Stanford, Huestis has definite three and D potential. He has great size and athleticism, which allows him to guard multiple positions. His shooting improved over time, but will be the biggest challenge for him. He leveled out at 33.8 percent from three over his last two years and, even more concerning, shot only 61 percent from the stripe.
Antetokounmpo will be 22 years old at the start of the season, and spent last season playing significant time in the D-League. Getting a chance playing 1,465 minutes compared to a college player who was unlikely to have cracked 1,000 minutes could help prepare him for the more demanding pro schedule. Additionally, he should bring NBA-ready defense, a 7'0 wingspan, 40 inch vertical, and good-enough offense. It's easy to see him finding a role and consistent minutes early on in his career.
Daniels was underwhelming in his college career, often looking too passive. But that, along with his 6'8 frame, 7'2 wingspan, and 41.7 percent three point shooting, could make him well-suited to be a role player at the next level.
Were it not for a torn ACL that ended his season early, Dinwiddie would almost certainly have been a first round pick. He's an efficient, versatile guard, but missing summer ball and likely a chunk of next season won't make his transition an easy one. Still, with Rodney Stuckey on his way out, the Pistons have a place for a player like him.
Williams is a fringe combo guard prospect, but played four effective, efficient years at New Mexico. Whether it's as a scorer, shooter, or distributor, Williams rose to the top of the Draft Express by the numbers analysis. He also has the size to play both guard positions, but there's a question of whether he has the consistency or talent to be successful in the NBA.
Perhaps with a longer track record, Inglis would be taking Dario Saric's spot as that one international wing that goes in the lottery in each draft. At only 19 years old and without much playing experience, he's the type of low-floor, high ceiling player that doesn't fit the mold of most second round successes over the past few years. But he has a fantastic build for a small forward and was impressive with his limited minutes in France's top professional league, especially on the defensive end. He even seems to have some of the point-forward ability that Stan Van Gundy has traditionally made such great use of. For a team building around a young core like the Pistons and with the recent investment in the team's D-League, he could be a very interesting boom-or-bust prospect.
What say you, DBB?