Every year there is a couple of guys that come out of the second round of the NBA Draft that become solid contributors to their teams. Superstars may be rare in the second round, but key role players can be found if teams get lucky. Here’s a look at my 2011 NBA Draft projections for seven guys that are likely to go in the second round this year who could easily be valuable players for their new teams. A few of the players -- Tyler, Smith and Jackson - could potentially find themselves at the end of the first round, but they could still be strong value even there.
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Darius Morris, G, Michigan - As a huge Michigan fan I know two things - Morris is ridiculously talented, and he made a gigantic mistake coming out this year. He is too raw and has been lost in the crowd in the draft process as a result. If he can land in a position where he can be given time to grow and develop without immediate expectations, though, he can be a major factor. He’s just one of those guys who can take a team on his shoulders and lead them where they need to go.
Jeremy Tyler, C, Japan - Tyler is the guy who unfortunately made himself a cautionary tale -- he tried to shortcut the system by leaving high school early to play pro in Europe before hitting the NBA, but it has been a rough road for him. Still, he’s a big-bodied center with a whole lot of upside, and he has been growing into himself recently. He’s had a very good pre-draft period, and there is increasing sentiment that he could be moving well up into the first round. No matter where he goes he could be a big contributor for a team who has the patience to let him develop.
E’twaun Moore, G, Purdue - Moore finds himself in the second round (hopefully) because he is a senior who isn’t particularly athletic. He’s the kind of guy I like, though -- he’s just a winner. His tools aren’t as good as many, but he finds a way to get it done, he wins a lot of games, and he plays relentless defense. I don’t necessarily ever see him as a starter, but I do think he can be one of those bench players that fans of a team would die for.
LaceDarius Dunn, G, Baylor - Dunn needs to develop some patience with his shot selection -- the guy has never met a shot he won’t take -- and he needs to prove he can be a team player. I like that he is used to being the man and having the weight of a program on his shoulders, though, and you can’t help but be impressed by his scoring touch. He’s NBA-ready right now, and if a coach can figure out the chemistry and a role for him then he could be fun to watch.
David Lighty, G, Ohio State - The NBA just doesn’t like seniors, and this is another example of a guy who isn’t getting a lot of respect despite a whole lot of college accomplishments. I hate everything about Ohio State, but I like Lighty -- that’s a big compliment. He is a star-caliber player that is very happy to play whatever role is needed. He can shoot, he is an extremely smart player, he doesn’t make mistakes, and he is a strong leader. He looks to me like an NBA role player who will make himself valuable because he can do so many things well.
Nolan Smith, G, Duke - I am always a little nervous about the pro prospects of Duke stars, but I feel better about Smith than most. He’s a leader that makes things happen. I don’t think he’s outstanding in any one particular area, but when you put it all together he has the skills and the basketball IQ to play a nice role -- at least as a nice backup on the point. The biggest thing a team that takes him has to do is find a way to make him stronger and harder to push around.
Reggie Jackson, G, Boston College - Jackson could be the biggest steal of all here. He has been hampered by a knee injury that has limited him in the pre-draft process and has hurt his stock as a result. The guy has some freakishness about him, though -- in a good way. He’s freakishly athletic, and despite only being 6-foot-3 his seven-foot wingspan is extraordinary. Quick, athletic guards are popular in the NBA right now, and Jackson has a chance to be a good one. He could be a contributor right away, and I see him as a starter in the right spot after some seasoning. Like Tyler there is some buzz building, and there is an increasing chance that a team will take a shot at him later on in the first round. I would.