Prospecting: Digging for gold in the second round

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the San Antonio Spurs over the years — outside of the fact Gregg Popovich is an absolute freaking genius — it’s that perpetual success can be achieved through drafting well, especially late into the second round where unheralded international players often reside. Nine of the Spurs’ 15 players on their roster are from overseas and of all their players who logged at least 15 minutes per game this past season, only two were from the U.S. and only one was selected inside the lottery. So as much as NBA fans like to casually dismiss second-round picks as irrelevant, it’s probably best we absorb our history lessons from the actual world champions who just defied this sentiment for the fifth time in the last 15 years — which is exactly the goal of RMC’s final Prospecting post leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft.

Spencer Dinwiddie // 21 // 6-6 // SG // Colorado

I don’t typically like to make gaudy proclamations, but around this time of year that seems to be the name of the game. And because I like games (hence the ownership of this blog), I’ll go all in right now and say that Spencer Dinwiddie will go down as one of the biggest draft steals of the night come June 26. The guy just has it all. He’s young for his class, well spoken, he can shoot at high clip, he has a solid midrange game, great size for his position, impressive vision and more than anything, he’s capable of playing lock-down defense and he gets to the line at an extremely high rate. Those two factors (defense and getting to the line) are absolutely paramount in projecting the success of a collegiate wing at the next level. Just look at the best players in the NBA today. Almost all of them do both of those things far better than their contemporaries.

Prior to tearing his ACL, Dinwiddie was seen as a potential lottery pick. Had he remained healthy all year I don’t think much would have changed. In fact, I’d be willing to bet Dinwiddie would be right up there with the other four shooting guard prospects I detailed in the first post of our Prospecting series — maybe even leading the pack. The dude is just that good.

Statistically, Dinwiddie trumps nearly all his fellow shooting guards, leading this year’s crop in every free-throw attempts categories, pure point ratio and true shooting percentage, while ranking top six in assists per-40 minutes pace adjusted, steals per-40 minutes pace adjusted and Player Efficiency Rating. And of course, on a pure visual scale he takes the cake as well, displaying a loose resemblance to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named in scouting reports, aka, Kobe Bryant.

I have a really hard time believing Dinwiddie will drop to 40. He’s simply too good and there are simply too many good GMs selecting before the Nuggets at 40 that won’t pass this kid up. So if the Nuggets do complete a trade with the Bulls on draft night for picks 16 and 19, I’ll be actively rooting for one of those selections to be The Man with the Mustache.

Please feel free to join.

Jahii Carson // 21 // 5-11 // PG // Arizona State

Jahii Carson is so unlucky. If he was three centimeters taller he’d likely be foretasted to land somewhere in the late first round. Unfortunately he falls just short of the coveted “6-feet or Taller Club,” and therefore has been deemed incapable of playing at a high level in the NBA. Which, of course, is nothing short of regurgitated nonsense perpetuated by the same trite decision makers who often select the Michael Olowokandis of the world. If you’re one of these types, I implore you to ask the 5-11 Ty Lawson, 6-foot Chris Paul or 5-9 Isaiah Thomas — all of who finished top 10 amongst point guards in PER last season — how their height has drastically hindered their chances of ever succeeding in the NBA.

For the last two years Carson absolutely torched the PAC-12, averaging no less than 19 points and five assists per game as a freshman and sophomore (similar numbers to James Harden’s during his campaign at Arizona State, I might add). He logged three 30-point games his freshman year and even dropped a 40-point performance against UNLV this past season. What allowed Carson to accomplish these remarkable feats was his speed and athleticism — both elite skills that should translate to the NBA. He’s as speedy as Ty Lawson was coming out of college, probably more athletic and is definitely a better one-on-one player, which should also translate well to the NBA. Additionally, his handle is one of the best in this draft as are his pure scoring abilities. Though he is a bit old for his class and has some questions about how he’ll defend more sizable point guards at the next level, neither should prevent him from doing what he’s already done in college, which is overcoming his opponent through sheer athleticism and raw talent.

Damien Inglis // 19 // 6-8 // SF // Roanne

If there’s another player outside Dinwiddie who I’m becoming more infatuated with by the moment, it’s Damien Inglis. Unlike Dinwiddie, his stats are abysmal. But according to DraftExpress.com, they’re extremely similar to those of fellow countryman and Inglis’ most accurate comparison, Nicolas Batum, prior to his arrival in the NBA.

Honestly, Batum is all I can think about when I look at Inglis. He’s probably not as good as Batum, probably never will be, but the similarities are evident and impossible to ignore. Like Batum he has a huge wingspan (7-3) in tandem with great height for his position. He’s also primarily a defender (and a versatile one at that), one of the youngest players in this draft and has nowhere to go but up. Given time and the proper nurture — which Shaw has proven to be more than capable of providing — I could see this kid turning into a franchise cornerstone on the defensive side of the ball. He’s the athletic wing defender I’ve been pouring over for the last month, one the Nuggets must have moving forward if they plan on contending for an NBA title. Draft him for defense, make a commitment to that side of the ball, and anything he delivers on offensive is all gravy.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo // 21 // 6-6 // SF // Delaware 87ers

Thanasis Antetokounmpo is, first and foremost, a player who’s name you must copy and paste at all times. He’s also the older brother of the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2013 first-round selection, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Some say Thanasis is actually more athletic than Giannis, and if you watch his scouting report above you’ll see why. The dude is truly a freak. He has unreal defensive potential and plays with more heart, emotion and hustle than any prospect in this year’s class. But he’s also more raw than sushi and has a pretty limited offensive repertoire for a 21-year-old wing. If you’re of the belief that players like Thanasis are still untapped and docile, then this is your guy. If you believe in patience and hard work and that even the most inexperienced athletes can be molded into role players at the next level, I don’t see a better pick at 40. But like fine wine, it’ll be a few years before the fruits of Thanasis’ labor turns into anything tasty.

Walter Tavares // 22 // 7-3 // C // Gran Canaria

Walter Tavares is a giant man with a fascinating story. According to DraftExpress.com, prior to 2009 — when he first touched a basketball — he was just another teenager working in his mother’s convenience store in Cape Verde. But when a German tourist recommended him to friends in the Spanish ACB league, his life as a professional basketball player abruptly commenced. Since then he’s worked his way up to becoming one of the best centers in one of the toughest leagues in Europe. Tavares is a hard worker with unlimited defensive potential, but due to his late start he’s still got a long ways to go before becoming a significant contributor at the NBA level. There’s a good chance he’ll be off the board before the Nuggets select at 40, but if he’s still available he deserves a long look based purely on his rare physical attributes and brief resume of rapid improvement.

Vasilije Micic // 20 // 6-6 // PG // Mega Vizura

Micic is a guy who’s been on the international radar for a while. He’s been playing professionally for over five years now and had firmly established himself as one of the best point guards in Europe by last season. He’s got great size for his position, he sees the floor as well as anyone in this draft and he’s fairly ambidextrous. He also has a good head on his shoulders, gives it his all on defense and desires to play in the NBA next season, according to DraftExpress.com. Micic reminds me a bit of Jose Calderon in that he has one elite skill (distributing — though his size is fantastic too) and is somewhat pedestrian at everything else. He’s the best passer in this class on a per 40-minute basis but also turns the ball over the most, according to DraftExpress.com. Micic likely won’t be anything more than a solid backup in the NBA, but given the dearth of genuine floor generals throughout the league, that’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Nikola Jokic // 19 // 6-11 // C // Mega Vizura

I don’t know much about Jokic and neither does the Internet apparently. He has a few videos on YouTube and several articles pop up when you Google his name, but I can’t find anything definitive in terms of projecting his future as an NBA player. What is apparent, however, is that this guy has some intriguing tools — outside of the fact he just turned 19 and only started playing organized basketball a few years ago. He has a soft touch around the basket, he can stretch the floor out to the 3-point line and his court awareness is sublime for a guy his size. When you look at the league’s best centers, a high assist rate is often commonplace for many. So when I hear about a big man who can pass like a point guard, I take note, and immediately include him in my Prospecting posts based on criminally shoddy research and incredibly shallow reasoning, seen here.

Nick Johnson // 21 // 6-3 // SG // Arizona

I’m slowly coming to terms with the realization that other people just don’t like Nick Johnson as much as I do. But what I’m still having a hard time understanding is why exactly that is. People say his size will be a detriment to his success at the next level; they also say his size will be a detriment to his success at the next level. Actually, that’s all they say. And perhaps they’re right. At 6-3 he’s an undersized scoring guard by NBA standards. Then again, so is Randy Foye and about a billion other guys in the NBA. All I know is that I watched Johnson a lot in college and I always came away impressed. He has two elite skills — shooting (potentially) and athleticism — as well as the ability to run the point if necessary. I won’t be surprised if Johnson fails to find his niche at the next level, but I also won’t be surprised if he morphs into a defensive-minded role player for a title contender who can stretch the floor and occasionally throw down monster jams on people’s heads.

(All embedded videos courtesy of DraftExpress.com)

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.
  • Heisenberg

    I get the feeling that there’s a bit of hometown bias when it comes to Dinwiddie since he played for CU. My particular issue is that nothing stands out to me. He seems good at a lot of things but not great at one particular thing. At least Roberson (keeping it local) brought well above average rebounding and defense.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/ Kalen

      Maybe for some loyal CU fans there’s bias, but I don’t think there is among Nuggets fans. There wasn’t anybody calling for the Nuggets to draft Roberson last year, nor Colton Iverson.

      Dinwiddie’s elite attribute is his ability to get to the line. He did that better than almost everyone in the country last year. That will pay off huge in the NBA where drawing fouls has become an art and penetrating for dribble-drive offensive sets is paramount.

      And you said it yourself. Dinwiddie is good at everything. What’s wrong with that? That’s exactly what you want from a draftee.

      • Heisenberg

        It’s an issue because most late first/second round picks are lucky to turn into anything other than role players. When picking in the second round, I think it’s best to have guys who are great at one or two things (and therefore can become really, really good at those skills) than to draft someone who isn’t coming in with an excellent skill.

        Spencer’s 7 FT per game is certainly solid, but not elite. He also needs to get stronger if he’s going to draw calls. He has trouble creating his own shot, typically using screens to get open. From that standpoint, he doesn’t resemble Kobe at all. Not only that, Kobe was way, way more assertive than Spencer. So the Kobe comparison seems like a big leap (even if it is loose as you wrote). I think he looks a lot more like MCW, and a poor man’s version is the absolute best case scenario (and a lot needs to go right for that to happen).

    • Colin

      You have every reason to assume bias but those of us who have followed Dinwiddie closely have seen what he is capable of and the impact he can have on a game. Like Kalen said, no one was campaigning for Roberson or Iverson last year. If Dinwiddie hadn’t have torn his ACL I guarantee that more than a few team in the lottery would be giving him a long hard look. However, he will most likely go late first round and I would be shocked if he dropped out of the first. If we do in fact trade our 11 for 16 and 19 I would absolutely go for him with one of the picks. With two picks we would have the luxury of taking a chance on a guy with high upside while still having another pick

      • Heisenberg

        I think it’s more likely the Spurs take a big so they can rest Duncan more.

  • Scott

    Trade our 2nds and Randolph for Dinwiddie I watched every game of his and I swear he is worth it. Probably a 50% fg and 40% 3pt fg shooter. He would’ve been top 10 if he wasn’t injured.

    • Heisenberg

      Highly unlikely considering he wasn’t in any mock top 10’s before injury. The consensus was that Dinwiddie was going mid to late first round before injury. Unless Spencer would’ve turned into a God at the NCAA Tournament (possible, but we will never know) I think he would have stayed in that range.

      His 3 ball has been inconsistent throughout college and he’s never shot 50%. I’d wager for 40-45% FG and 35% from 3.

  • Len Nunes

    CJ Wilcox would be nice

  • Colin

    I like Jahii in the second round if he’s still available. He’s a guy that definitely could have broken into the lottery if he was a few inches taller and an incredible athlete / talent. Can’t really say much about the other guys as I haven’t seen then play other than Nick Johnson who I’m not too high on

  • Michael

    Man Tavares is a big unit, check out his vid at 10:12 he is almost touching the rim whilst still on the floor, he must have at least a 9’6-9’7″ standing reach. Considering he has only been playing for a bit over 3 years he doesn’t look too bad. A year or two under a solid big man coach should fix several of his flaws, such as the allowing low catches and work on some basic low post moves.
    I really like Dinwiddie, I don’t follow college (being an Aussie makes it hard to catch the games) but I really liked the interviews he has given, he is well spoken and knows not to bad mouth anyone. In one interview he is asked about a Harden comparison due to getting to the line, the reporter mentions how bloggers make certain negative remarks about Harden, Spencer replied with something along the lines of: “Bloggers can say whatever they like about James Harden, the dudes an All Star and one of the best SG’s in the league, Spencer Dinwiddie can’t talk bad about James Harden”. Besides the talking in the 3rd person I thought it was a great answer, he is also very good with his analysis of the game. The clips I have seen of him are very impressive and if we could land him with our first pick in the 2nd round I am all for it, as I have already mentioned in a previous post.
    I don’t know much about the others, while Carson might be a good player I believe we have our quota of 6 foot and under guards for the time being.
    I must say I’m looking forward to having Friday (Australian Time) off work so I can sit at home and stream the Draft, I look forward to it more than my birthday or Christmas and this year is shaping up to be a cracker. I’m predicting no less than 14 trades on draft day (league wide, obviously not all by the Nuggets…although I am expecting at least 1, maybe 2 by Timmy and Co.)

  • Furious_Stylez

    Not sure why we’re even talking about this. Lebron is coming to Denver, Love will force a trade here and Stephenson will take a pay cut to play here. We’ll win not 1, not 2….

    Okay, that was fun. Back to reality:

    Micic seems like the player that the Nuggs need on the roster based on his attributes: A 6-6 PG whose best skill is passing. Lawson was better last year with dishing the rock, but he can’t be expected to play 35+mpg and be the main guy if this team wants a shot at the playoffs. We know NateRob is an undersized SG, not a PG, so this team really needs a true PG. However if Dinwiddie is still there at 40, take him.

    Also, as most have indicated, it’s really hard to strike gold on a second round pick, so I’m all about filling roster needs. If the player works out: awesome. If not, oh well. Low risk, high reward.

  • heykyleinsf

    I would love to go more international and hope we do invest overseas in round 2.

    On another topic.. curious to know from people..
    If LeBron and Melo join Kobe in LA…
    Does this affect you being a fan of NBA basketball?
    I’ve heard a bunch of people say they will quit watching if this happens

    • heykyleinsf

      I’ll still be a Nuggets fan even if we don’t get a “Top Ten Player”.
      I don’t like what the NBA is coming to.

    • Heisenberg

      Neither one will go to LA in my opinion. Kobe’s salary all but guaranteed that.

      • heykyleinsf

        all they have to do is get rid of Nash..
        then they can give them both $16M
        The Cavs and Hawks also making pitches
        to get them both..
        but Kobe may have the upper hand

        • mike gomez

          getting rid of nash is easier said than done, but still i don’t see neither heading their. well you could the nuggets as well in the lebron James hunt, i just read nuggets are going to make a pitch at lebron. i know its pipe dream but got to give it up to our gm for trying the impossible and show he is serious about getting talent

          • Heisenberg

            Eh, better than doing nothing. I do think the Heat would accept Gallo in some sort of sign and trade. But this has a zero percent chance of happening, unfortunately. If they traded for Love I’d give it a 5% chance.

          • heykyleinsf

            Of course if we got LaBron.. I would still be a fan.
            But I’m pretty far from being a LaBron fan.
            I honestly don’t want Love, Melo or LaBron.
            We only need to look at the Lakers (and Heat)
            to see loading up on superstars is not any guarantee.
            I hope we draft wisely in both rounds and learn from
            the bitter lesson we should have learned with Iggy.

            • Heisenberg

              4 straight Finals appearances and 2 titles isn’t bad.

              You need stars to win. Just the way it is. LeBron carried a bunch of bums to the Finals in 2007. Wade was basically worthless this year, and Miami STILL got to the Finals.

              Pretty sure the Lakers have been successful as well.

              • heykyleinsf

                The Spurs and Mavs didn’t need to do it that way.
                Miami to me, is disgusting in the way they did it..
                they rent players and they rent fans.

                Maybe I’m old fashioned.. but I see this trend as synthetic and honestly, I think it’s destroying the integrity of the game. I don’t want to be in the “can’t beat them join them mindset”

                The NBA is diseased enough already.
                It doesn’t have to be, as the Spurs have shown.
                I don’t like that route. I’m a Nuggets fan,
                I want Nuggets players. I want that to mean something.

              • Heisenberg

                SA has arguably the greatest coach of all time.

                Dallas is pursuing Carmelo. The old days are gone.

                I want to win titles. If that takes bringing in players to do it (and it does), so be it.

              • heykyleinsf

                welp…

                Last time I checked…
                that theory and that big three..
                were not only denied..
                they were destroyed.

                They sold their souls.. and…
                The devil didn’t pay up.

                Just like the Lakers adding Nash and Howard.
                Fell flat on their faces.

                .. Aaaaaaaaand ..
                I LOVED IT.

              • Heisenberg

                Nash was done when he got to LA. Too bad, because I like him and wanted to see him win a ring.

                4 straight Finals appearances (and 2 titles) is hardly a failure, though. Especially with a below average coach in Spoelstra. Karl or SVG would’ve gotten it done in 2011. Nobody was beating the Spurs in 2014, though.

              • heykyleinsf

                I’ll never understand how anyone can see GK as a championship caliber coach with his track record.

                I just don’t understand it.

                I’ll leave it at that.

              • Heisenberg

                He’s an above average coach. He definitely would’ve won with the 2012 Heat. Karl is far and away better than Spo.

        • Heisenberg

          Then they would have over 50 Mil tied up in 3 players. Their bench would have to basically be all on minimum contracts.

          I don’t think he’s going West, but the Clippers or Rockets seem most likely if he did wind up moving out of the East.

          • heykyleinsf

            from Hoops Rumors….

            “… The Lakers probably possess the easiest path to the requisite cap space with about $34MM in commitments for next season and Nick Young‘s player option, which he appears likely to decline. They’ve been linked to trades in which they’d give up Steve Nash and the No. 7 overall pick, and they’ve entered those discussions with clearing cap space in mind,

            http://www.hoopsrumors.com/2014/06/lakers-lebron-pairing.html

            • Heisenberg

              They still have over 20 M going to Kobe. Maybe they could get one but not both. Kobe and Melo would be a bad pairing though, we all saw what happened when Melo was paired with another player who demands the ball.

              If they have 50 M tied up in 3 players they have no room to construct a bench.

  • Poz303

    I am actually looking forward to the second round this year. I think there are some future gems in there. The interesting part is that Nuggets have no D-League affiliation, so any picks with be sent/stashed in Europe. This may mean it’s more likely they draft euro players but, as we have seen with Green, they might find a team in Europe to take their draft pick on a short contract. Competition in Europe is more intense than the D-League.

    Hence Thanasis, having moved from Greece to USA to be with his brother would not be happy to be sent back to Europe.

    I really like Inglis and we already have a French connection – Fours & Joffrey.

  • Michael

    After re-watching Tim Connelly’s interview, from a couple of weeks back, on the Nuggets home page, I believe it adds more fuel to the drafting Saric fire. His last comment was along the lines of: “we have a very strong international presence, we have probably seen as much of Dario Saric as we have of Gary Harris.” With the news Saric is signing a deal in Turkey and his stock likely to drop considerably the Nuggets could execute the trade with the Bulls for picks 16 and 19 and take Saric with one and get a guy like Rodney Hood* (*or insert other good prospect here) with the other pick? There are just so many variables with this draft this year and with the FA’s in play it is adding another dimension to the draft. Teams are uncertain if they are going to be able to sign/trade for certain players and how that may affect their roster and who they should draft… If the Nuggets totally trade out of the first round again, although unlikely, I will be very disappointed (didn’t really care last year due to the poor level of talent). Likewise drafting Saric with 11 will be a let down also, while I can see the potential future benefit, I’d like to see some affirmative action now.