The Unsexy But Potential Value of 2nd Round Picks

And just like that the NBA trade deadline has come and gone.  I’m sure there are quite a few Sixers fans out there that are slightly disappointed all they got in return for their trade chips was a handful of second round drafts picks.  Many fans, myself included, had visions of the Sixers flipping Turner or Hawes for first round picks in the 2014 draft or young assets like a C.J. McCollum or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  Trouble is in the NBA you need a second team willing to give up something substantial.  You can’t just push the the trade through like in NBA 2K Association Mode.

And then there are the few Sixers fans out there that upset that they traded away Turner and Hawes, with the belief that they are young and can still help turn this team around.  The trouble with that line of thought though is well documented.  Both guys are free agents at the end of the season, and more than likely another team will be willing to pay them more than the Sixers.  Teams have gotten smarter at the trade deadline, but for some reason that conservative approach hasn’t translated to roster decisions being made during the summer.  Just this summer Denver thought it was wise to give J.J. Hickson $5 million a year for three years.  So even if the Sixers held onto Turner and Hawes there was a good chance they would be overpaid by another team, and the Sixers would be left with the decision to let them walk for nothing or, as the case would be with Turner, match the potential albatross contract.

The market for Hawes and Turner just wasn’t there.  Maybe it would have been before the season began, such as when Phoenix dealt Gortat for a first round pick, but at this point it’s all in the past so there is no reason to dwell on it.

As of writing this there is still some discrepancy over whether the Sixers are getting back a 2014 2nd round pick from the Pacers or a 2015 2nd round pick.  For now lets assume the best and call it a 2014 2nd round pick.  With that pick the Sixers have now collected 6 2nd round draft picks in the upcoming draft.  They have their own pick, Cleveland’s pick, Memphis’ pick, Brooklyn’s pick, Houston’s pick, and Indiana’s pick.

There is almost no chance the Sixers use all of those picks.  Saying almost is actually not accurate.  The odds of the Sixers using all six picks is similar to the odds of the future NBC comedy Taxi-22 being a hit.  Here’s the log line:

The series centers on a misanthropic and politically incorrect NYC cab driver, and is based on the French Canadian hit series of the same title.

The only other stuff you need to know about the show is that it is going be uncomfortably racist (think Dads) and was dropped by HBO (you know, those people that continually make good television).

So even though the Sixers won’t use all the picks having this many gives the team a lot of options.  On draft day they can move some as a package to move up to the bottom of the first.  They could deal some for future picks.  They can draft an international player and stash him over-seas and still be able to draft someone else to participate right away. Or maybe they use four of them and trade two.

One person who’d applaud Hinkie’s strategy is former Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl winning coach Jimmie Johnson.  Johnson used to amass as many picks as he could into the later rounds of the NFL Draft with the belief that more picks meant he had more chances to get one right.  The strategy worked out pretty well for Jimmie as he built a dynasty in Dallas through the 90s that caused adolescent Philly fans like myself to weep into their father’s arms after a MNF drubbing at the Vet on Halloween.  The wounds are still fresh 20 years later.

Another advantage of 2nd round picks was outlined exceptionally (shocker) by Zach Lowe last August.  To quickly summarize NBA teams have a lot more flexibility negotiating contracts with second round picks.  Teams also have a considerable amount of leverage over the player since they own his draft rights.  Lowe used the best recent example in Chandler Parsons, who agreed to a four year deal with the Rockets after he was drafted.  At the end of this season Parsons will have earned $2,664,750 over his first three years in the league.  The Robin Thicke lookalike is averaging 17 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while having a FG% over 50% and a 3FG% over 40%.  The only other players averaging at least 15 points per game while shooting 50%+ from the field and 40%+ from three are Goran Dragic and Kevin Durant.  Parsons is clearly more the exception than the rule when it comes to success for 2nd rounds picks, but that’s why you acquire multiple picks.  It means more chances of hitting on one of those lottery tickets.  And with the talk of how deep this upcoming NBA Draft will be there might be better odds of landing a solid starter.  But your second round pick doesn’t need to be Chandler Parsons to be considered a success.

Here’s a break down of notable 2nd round picks over the last ten years (2013-2004).  I’ve grouped them into three tiers, “Notable Starters/All-Stars”, “Solid Role Players”, and “9th/10th Man, But Have A Role.”  Feel free to argue with me about how I grouped the players in the comments.  Tanner I’m looking at you.

Notable Starters/All-Stars

Goran Dragic, Nikola Pekovic, Omar Asik, Marcin Gortat, DeAndre Jordan, Chandler Parsons, Marc Gasol, Isaiah Thomas, Paul Millsap, Ersan Ilyasova, Monta Ellis, Anderson Varejao, and Lance Stephenson

Solid Role Players

DeJuan Blair, Trevor Ariza, Jae Crowder, Josh McRoberts, Chase Budinger, Danny Green, Khris Middleton, Louis Williams, Draymond Green, Amir Johnson, Mario Chalmers, Dante Cunningham, Patty Mills, Brandon Bass, Glen Davis, Ramon Sessions, and Patrick Beverly

9th/10th Men

Luc Mbah A Moute, Jodie Meeks, Kyle Singler, Andray Blatche, Landry Fields, Carl Landry, Marcus Thornton, Ronny Turiaf, Nate Wolters, Lavoy Allen, Isaiah Canaan, C.J. Miles, Jeremy Evans, Nando De Colo, and P.J. Tucker.

That’s a total of 37 players, and to be honest I might have missed a couple.  Those 37 players represent 12.4% of the 299 2nd round draft picks made over that time.  The Starters/All-Star group make up about 4.3% of the 299 2nd round picks.

The 2003 Draft, which this upcoming draft is being compared to in terms of depth, yielded the following 2nd round picks; Steve Blake, Kyle Korver, Willie Green, Mo Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Matt Bonner, James Jones, and Keith Bogans.  All of those guys are still in the league 11 years later.

With potentially 20% of the 2nd round in their control the Sixers will rely on their scouting department to find that 2nd round steal or two.  The draft is still months out, but if a majority of players expected to come out do some will fall into the second round.  Players like Chris Walker, one of the Harrison twins, Jahii Carson, or Greek Freak Part Deux could all be available for the Sixers to draft in the 2nd round.  Hinkie doesn’t strike me as a GM that isn’t thorough, so I’m guessing he’ll have scouts spread out across the country trying to unearth over-looked talent.  Hey they clearly hit on MCW, so the early track record is promising.  Lord knows Hinkie won’t need to scouting potential playoff match-ups.

When attempting to build a team one of the keys is positioning yourself to be as flexible as possible, since there is no guarantee a free agent will sign with you (Lebron and NYC) or the draft lottery will go your way (2007 Celtics).  And Hinkie has done a tremendous job in less than a year maximizing the flexibility of the Sixers.  At seasons end the Sixers will be armed with up to 8 picks in the 2014 draft (2 1st rounds 6 2nd rounds), hopefully the 2013/2014 ROY, another high lottery selection in Nerlens Noel, a remaining trade chip in Thad Young, and around $25 or $26 million in cap room.  With all of those assets the Sixers will have the opportunity to draft near the top of a talented 2014 draft twice, sign a quality free agent like Greg Monroe, trade a handful of the collected assets for someone like Kevin Love if he becomes available, take on expiring salary for more future assets like the Jazz did this past off-season, or some combination of those options.

Being patient sucks.  I think the world is against me if I get stuck behind someone at the gas station.  The next two months of the Sixers’ season are going be brutal, but in the end I believe it will all be worth it.  In the meantime start collecting good JuJu for the SIxers at the NBA Draft Lottery.

The terms of the Pacers trade were released.  The 2nd round pick will be in 2015.


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