The 2018 NBA draft has been filled with talent. Even the second round has provided guys with potential to be solid NBA players. Then there are always the guys who go undrafted and have to sign on with a team and fight for a spot in the rotation. Here is a list of ten guys who weren’t thought of as top prospects coming in, but who have made an impact so far:
Round 2 Pick 1 Elie Okobo, Phoenix Suns From:France
An athletic guard taken 31th overall in the draft out of France by the Suns, Okobo has been given honest-to-goodness minutes this season. With Phoenix stuck in a rebuild and without a true point guard to build around, Okobo has played in 18 games, starting four. In 19.8 minutes per game, he is getting 6.7 ppg, 2.7 apg and 2.1 but shooting a poor 26.5% from deep. Isaiah Canaan was the starting point guard coming into the season, but with his release, Okobo and De’Anthony Melton (also on this list) were given the chance to take the starting spot.
Round 2 Pick 3 Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks From:Villanova
The two time national champion and one of my favorite players in college with Villanova, Brunson has been a solid backup to Dennis Smith Jr. for the Mavericks. After receiving inconsistent minutes as most second rounders do in the first month of the season, Brunson has played very well, averaging 10.0 ppg on 53.2% form the field. Brunson’s biggest weakness is his three point shot, shooting an abysmal 23.5 % from three (just barely below Trae Young). While Brunson will likely never become a star, his performance so far shows he could be a solid starter for a team in the years to come.
Round 2 pick 6 Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks From:Western Kentucky
Very similar in his play style to the Celtics’ Robert Williams, Robinson has been a defensive presence in the time he’s received so far. His 51 blocks on the season ranks second among rookies, only behind Jaren Jackson Jr. Robinson’s block percentage is up at 9.1% and his blocks per 48 minutes rank third in the NBA, behind Javale McGee and Hassan Whiteside. Robinson’s biggest strength can also be a weakness: his over- aggressiveness. He often comes into the game and picks up two quick fouls, forcing him back to the bench. Still, I think the Knicks should be okay with this problem for now since he is getting blocks.
Round 2 Pick 10 Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets From:Spain
The 40th pick out of Spain, Rodions Kurucs is extremely quick and has troubled defenses in the time he has seen to start the season. After playing in just 7 of the Nets’ first 23 games and spending some time in the G league, Kurucs has cracked a spot in the Nets starting lineup due in large part to Caris Levert’s injury. He has made good use of his minutes, netting 9.3 ppg on 52.0 FG%, and, 4.3 rpg. The Nets have also played much better with him on the court: they are 10-4 when he plays and 5-12 when he doesn’t. Since becoming a member of the rotation, Kurucs has been a big contributor to the Nets’ current seven game winning streak. His athleticism at 6’10’’ may make him a defensive nightmare down the road and someone the Nets should be very excited about.
Round 2 pick 12 Bruce Brown Jr., Detroit Pistons From:Miami
The 42nd pick by the Pistons out of Miami, Bruce Brown Jr. has been a solid perimeter defender for the Pistons. Getting 17.7 mpg so far, Brown has secured a spot in the rotation off the bench and has started some games in the wake of Ish Smith’s injury. While his offensive game is still very raw, he is a tenacious perimeter defender. His defensive box plus minus per game is 2.0, a good rate for someone not playing a lot minutes. He scores just 4.0 ppg and is shooting 19.2% from 3 so he’ll need to work on his shot if he wants to become a full regular starter.
Round 2 pick 15 Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City Thunder From:Kentucky
A standout at Kentucky, Hamidou Diallo has made an immediate impact for the Thunder so far this season. Having played in 24 games (2 starts) and getting 13.0 minutes per game, Diallo is garnering 5.6 ppg on 48.6% from the floor and 2.4 rpg. His shot is undeveloped but Diallo has shown flashes of potential and is someone the Thunder should be excited about.
Round 2 pick 16 De’Anthony Melton, Oklahoma City Thunder From:USC
Having been given the chance to receive meaningful minutes along with Elie Okobo following the release of Isaiah Canaan, Melton has made good use of his time, gaining the Suns’ starting point guard position. In 15 games played and seven starts, Melton has put up 6.1 ppg on 38.8 FG% and 3.1 apg. While neither Melton or Okobo have been great, the Suns are leaning towards Melton as their starting point guard for now.
Round 2 pick 17 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Los Angeles Lakers From:Kansas
Native of Ukraine and four year player out of Kansas, Svi Mykhailiuk has the potential to be one of the best three point shooters in this class. In his senior year, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4% from three while getting 14.6 ppg. This season, he has appeared in 20 games, getting 11.1 mpg. He hasn’t played great and it may be a stretch for him to be on this list, but I put him on here since I think he has a higher ceiling than most of the other guys taken in the second round. I see him as a potential Kyle Korver type of a player if he can all-around improve some.
Undrafted:Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks From:Arizona
Undrafted and signed to a two-way contract by the New York Knicks, Allonzo Trier has been arguably the biggest surprise of this draft class. After immediately making an impact and beating out teammates such as Damyean Dotson, Courtney Lee, and Ron Baker for a spot in the rotation, Trier’s contract was converted to a full NBA deal. A three year guy from Arizona, Trier has put up 11.3 ppg and 3.1 rpg on 47.0 FG% and 39.1 3PT%. With how Trier has played, there must be a lot of GMs shaking their heads for passing on him.
Undrafted: Gary Clark, Houston Rockets From: Cincinnati
Another guy signed to a two-way contract, Gary Clark had his contract converted to a full deal after earning a spot in the rotation over Carmelo Anthony. While he has not played as much over the past two weeks, his play during November showed Clark’s potential to be a solid two-way player in the NBA. In my opinion, Clark compares to Luc Mbah a Moute of the Los Angeles Clippers. Somewhat undersized for the power forward position at 6’8’’ and while never the star of the team, Clark will play hard and is capable of hitting threes.
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