Forty second-round picks in the last three years (44.4 percent) have signed a contract with an NBA team that guaranteed them at least two year’s worth of full pay.
Much was made during the NBA Finals of the roster composition of the title-winning Toronto Raptors. General Manager Masai Ujiri had a team that featured zero lottery picks and only five first-round selections.
As more and more players command more and more of a team’s cap space in free agency, NBA teams are increasingly looking to find successful — and cheap — players in the second round of the NBA Draft. That’s great news for Isaiah Roby, after being selected 45th by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
(He was technically picked by the Detroit Pistons but a draft night trade with the Mavericks will send him to Dallas.)
Roby was right on the cutoff, but being in the top half of the second round seems to give him a strong chance to earn some guaranteed money and a great shot at making his NBA dream a reality.
Of the 45 top-half selections in the second round in the last three seasons, 37 of them have signed a contract that featured at least one guaranteed season on the deal. Thirty-two players got at least two guaranteed years. And last season, among the first 20 selections of the second round, 16 of them signed a deal with multiple seasons guaranteed.
A deeper dive into the actual players selected reveals even better news for Roby.
Of the 74 guys taken in the second round of the last three drafts that stayed and played in either the NBA G-League or NBA (16 guys were draft-and-stash prospects who have yet to come overseas), 19 of them were regular members of the rotation for their NBA team last season. That’s 26 percent of second-round picks in the last three years who appeared in at least half of their teams’ games in 2018 and averaged at least 10 minutes on the court.
Your longevity (or, at the very least, your ability to stick with the team that drafted you) depends on the actual team doing the drafting.
Take Jake Layman for instance. A 47th-overall pick of the Portland Trailblazers in 2016, Layman signed a three-year deal worth just over $2.5 million with two years guaranteed. Portland was in a financial situation that afforded few avenues to acquiring talent, so keeping and developing a second-round pick seemed more feasible than signing veterans to a league-minimum deal.
Layman played 70 games total his first two seasons with the Blazers, then burst onto the scene this past year by making 71 appearances (33 starts) and averaging almost eight points in just under 20 minutes a night.
Monte Morris — a former Fred Hoiberg pupil — is another name that springs to mind. A 2017 second-round selection, Morris emerged as the primary backup to Jamal Murray for a Denver Nuggets squad that finished second in the Western Conference. Morris played all 82 regular season games, averaged 24 minutes a night and played in every postseason game.
The Nuggets gave Morris, a 51st-overall selection, space to develop. Compare that to a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, who routinely sends second-rounders to its G-League affiliate in order to save roster spots for veterans. It’s about landing in the right situation.
With Roby set to join a team in Dallas that isn’t quite ready for contention, Roby finds himself in a potentially good spot. The Mavericks have eyes of pairing a big free agent with young stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but if they were to strike out, it could be another year of rebuilding around a young core. Even still, the Mavericks enter free agency next month with only seven players on the books; only one of them is a frontcourt player. There should be opportunity there.
For those that say “show your work,” or anyone just overly curious in second-round salary structure, the following table lists every pick of the last three drafts, with the rookie deal they signed. The number in parenthesis represents the number of guaranteed years on that deal.
The first round brings with it a set salary scale for each pick, but the second round is more loose. That’s how you can see a guy being taken with the first pick of the second round in 2017 and getting a three-year deal worth the league minimum salary and then the 10th pick of the second round in 2018 get four years and almost $7 million.
|Pick #||2018 Draft||2017 Draft||2016 Draft|
|31||4yr/$6.12M (2yr)||3yr/Min (2yr)||3yr/$3.92M (full)|
|32||2yr/$2.26M (full)||4yr/Min (1yr)||3yr/$3.25M (2yr)|
|33||4yr/$6.11M (3yr)||3yr/$4.05M (full)||3yr/Min (2yr)|
|34||3yr/$4.07M (2yr)||3yr/$4.18M (2yr)||4yr/$4.00M (2yr)|
|35||3yr/$4.13M (2yr)||3yr/$3.95M (2yr)||Overseas|
|36||4yr/$6.57M (3yr)||Overseas||3yr/$2.99M (2yr)|
|37||3yr/$3.92M (full)||4yr/$6.04M (1yr)||3yr/Min (full)|
|38||3yr/$3.92M (2yr)||2yr/Min (full)||2yr/Min (full)|
|39||3yr/$4.08M (2yr)||3yr/Min (2yr)||Overseas|
|40||4yr/$6.96M (3yr)||3yr/Min (2yr)||2yr/Min (full)|
|41||3yr/$3.92M (2yr)||2yr/Min (2yr)||3yr/$2.99M (1yr)|
|42||3yr/$3.92M (2yr)||2yr/Min (1yr)||4yr/$4.99M (2yr)|
|45||3yr/$3.92M (2yr)||3yr/Min (2yr)||4yr/$5.47M (1yr)|
|46||2yr/$2.37M (full)||3yr/Min (2yr)||3yr/$2.61M (full)|
|47||3yr/$4.57M (1yr)||3yr/$3.90M (1yr)||3yr/$2.56M (2yr)|
|48||3yr/$3.92M (2yr)||3yr/Min (2yr)||4yr/$3.83M (2yr)|
|49||3yr/$3.92M (2yr)||Overseas||3yr/$2.61M (1yr)|
|50||2yr/$2.26M (1yr)||Overseas||3yr/$2.61M (1yr)|
|52||1yr/$838K (non)||Two-way||3yr/$2.56M (1yr)|
The league minimum salary in 2017 for a player with zero years of experience was $815,615, and the minimum in 2018 was $838,464.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.