The 46th pick could be a diamond in the rough
It’s no secret that guys drafted in the second round have a much smaller chance of playing in the NBA, let alone achieving something greater. According to FranchiseSports, there is a 2.4% chance of a second-rounder becoming an All-Star caliber player.
These players have a lot to prove, and minutes don’t just come by. They have to be earned, and when they are earned, they have to handle the task and live up to those minutes. The best player selected with this pick was back in 1986, when Jeff Hornacek, an All-Star, was selected. Other notable players that still play valuable minutes are 2021 Sixth Man of the Year recipient Jordan Clarkson and scoring machine Norman Powell.
That being said, let’s look at the next wave of potential bucket-getters.
I might be a little biased because I watch Euro ball, but Tristan Vukčević has some serious talent. Unlike other Euro/Balkan draft busts like Dragan Bender or Mario Hezonja, Tristan isn’t predicted to go in the lottery, so there is far less pressure placed on him to contribute right away.
The 7-foot center isn’t a piece the Hawks need right away, so he would be a project player. He is a 20-year-old pro player playing against the best of the best on the continent, putting up 5.5 points in 11 minutes on good shooting percentages. He also possesses a three-point stroke. With patience and hard work, this guy could be Zubac 2.0, but with a solid jumper.
Duke wing Dariq Whitehead might just be the steal of the draft. The 6-foot-7 Whitehead is a dream build for a 3-and-D type player. He was considered a consensus top-10 selection. Foot injuries caused his draft stock to drop drastically. He could go anywhere from the top 15 to the top 50. He shot 42% from 3, making insanely difficult shots all season.
His beautiful shooting stroke alone should warrant him being drafted.
Even though he is projected to be drafted low, the Hawks could pick up a player that could serve them off the bench right away. It’s a gamble, but with the 46th pick, it just might be worth it.
K-State forward Keyontae Johnson is a player I have admired since first hearing about him two years ago. He is a gritty, hard-nosed player who doesn’t back down. A heart condition sidelined him for almost two full seasons; just yesterday, he was allowed to enter the draft. At 6’5 and 225 pounds, he could probably play in the NFL as well. He is an all-around player who excels a little bit at everything. At 24, the thing he has that others don’t is experience.
He could help the team right away, being a role player off the bench – a spark plug, if you will. His constant motor is what sets him apart from everyone else.