Every year, talent slips through the cracks of the first round and second round steals make an impact immediately at the NBA level. Last year, athletic and talented point guard Jordan Clarkson faltered in the second half of his first season at Missouri after news of his father’s cancer diagnosis, which caused a fall to the Los Angeles Lakers at the 46th pick.
Who will be this year’s Jordan Clarkson? Clarkson finally got his chance midseason and performed like a first round pick the rest of the way as a starter averaging 16.7 points, 5.4 assists and 1.0 steal per game post All-Star break. Now, he looks to be a part of the Lakers future in the backcourt, alongside the Lakers 2015 second overall pick, combo guard D’Angelo Russell.
There are multiple candidates in the 2015 draft class capable of making an impact after falling to the second round. Most notably, teams like the Celtics, Raptors and Pacers found potential value late but also have plenty of opportunity for second rounders to make an impact.
The Celtics grabbed long and athletic forward Jordan Mickey who slid to pick number 33, and his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess were on full display during both summer leagues in Las Vegas and Utah. Mickey averaged over two blocks per game throughout the course of the summer, including almost a double-double while in Vegas.
Shot blocking and rebounding are two of the most translatable skills to the NBA level, and Mickey provides both thanks to his length and athleticism. Mickey brings versatility up front to the Celtics, and should be able to carve a niche out in the Celtics rotation as he learns the NBA game.
The Raptors worked all offseason improving their perimeter defense and look to have found a potential Tony Allen-esque player in athletic and defensive-minded swingman Norman Powell. Powell was a standout this summer, bringing more to the offensive side of the ball than many anticipated coming out of UCLA.
Powell has underrated ball skills and looked more natural as a shooter this summer than he performed at UCLA (37.3 percent on two-point jump shots and 31.9 percent on threes in 2014-15 per hoop-math.com). It’s possible he can crack the rotation in Toronto with his defensive prowess, but he likely will be unable to crack the starting lineup due to their perimeter depth.
Indiana’s two second round prospects also look to make an immediate impact in 43rd-pick combo-guard Joseph Young and big-man Rakeem Christmas, who was acquired in a trade with Cleveland. Young could be a change-of-pace point guard off the bench for the Pacers, while Christmas could play a role off the bench at either frontcourt spot.
The Pacers did a nice job acquiring two impressive four-year college prospects that will be more ready to contribute immediately than any long-term prospect. Both of these two have a chance to contribute off the bench right away with Young’s ability to get in the paint and score and Christmas’s rebounding and shot blocking ability in the paint.
These are four prospects who are not only talented but will get opportunity to play immediately, and if they impress, could become staples in the future of their respective teams. While none might make the impact Clarkson made as a rookie, they should be able to make a difference not only this season, but also years down the line.