In today’s NBA, the value and importance of second-round draft picks is extremely high. With more and more teams trying to form trios of superstars, franchises need ways of filling out their rosters with inexpensive talent that has upside potential. This is one way way that second-rounders can be absolutely invaluable to GMs around the league.
As opposed to first-round draft choices, teams aren’t assigned cap holds for their second-round picks. So if a team is dangerously close to exceeding the cap, or even worse, the luxury tax line, then a second-round pick can be a valuable tool. A team can select a player and take a look at him in the summer league, and if the front office likes what it sees, second-round picks commonly sign for close to the minimum salary, if not the minimum salary itself, often with little or no guaranteed money involved. If the player doesn’t work out, the team’s financial commitment is negligible.
Players taken in the second round aren’t subject to the rookie pay scale. This can also mean significant financial savings for teams. As a case in point, the cap hold for the first overall draft pick this season was $4,592,200, and the 30th pick’s was $911,400. First-rounders usually sign for 120% of those amounts. Compare that with the minimum salary for a player with no NBA experience, set at $507,336 for this season, and it’s easy to see how second-round picks can be beneficial.
The fact that second-rounders aren’t subject to cap holds also makes them valuable trade chips for teams looking to snag picks in the late first round. Take, for example, a team that’s teetering on the edge of the luxury tax line and owns the 26th pick in the draft. For the 2014/15 season this would mean an automatic cap hold of $958,100. If there wasn’t a player whom the team’s brass was absolutely in love with at that spot, the club could trade out of the first round, save itself the cap hold, and if the team acquired a second-rounder in return, try to strike gold on a much less costly investment. There isn’t a drastic difference between players taken in the late first round and the early second round in many cases, so dropping into the second round can be a wise strategy.
To begin the 2014/15 season there are 102 former second-round draftees on regular season rosters, out of a total of 447 players. That works out to 22.8% of the league. And no, Sixers fans, they aren’t all on your team, though Philadelphia is set make as many as 12 second-round picks from 2015 through 2019 thanks to all of the selections the team has acquired since GM Sam Hinkie came aboard in 2013. Here’s the breakdown by team of the former second-round picks in the league:
- Lance Stephenson
- Jeffrey Taylor
- Erick Green
- Grant Jerrett