Projecting draft-night steals

Updated: June 2, 2010, 1:35 AM ET
By David Thorpe

There is no debate, at least not anymore, about what kind of player a team can reasonably hope to draft after the top 14 lottery selections. If it adds anyone who can consistently crack the rotation -- even if just for a few minutes each game -- it's a positive. Make no mistake, plenty of players drafted from Nos. 15 to 60 have become solid players and, in some cases, stars. But those are the fortunate few.

Consider these names: Nick Young, Sean Williams, Marco Belinelli, Javaris Crittenton, Jason Smith, Daequan Cook and Alando Tucker. All were nonlottery first-round picks in 2007, and none has made an impact. Go back further, and you will see that the players who "make it" are far outnumbered by the ones who don't. It's even worse in Round 2, as expected. Going back five years (150 second-round draft picks), only 28 players can be categorized as rotation guys for their team.

So why do teams still spend lots of time and money deciding what they will do with these last 45 or so picks? Because they are hoping to find the next Marcus Thornton, a dynamite scorer, or an energy guy like Jonas Jerebko or a defensive demon like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. All were second-round "steals," meaning they have delivered far more than the typical pick from that spot would.

So who has a chance to be a steal this year, a player who may get picked after, say, No. 20, but will outperform his draft spot?