Most Suns fans appear to be incredibly excited about having the 14th, 18th and 27th overall picks in the upcoming draft. After all, three first-round picks gives the front office the flexibility to draft promising young prospects while also potentially trading for a veteran or even a star.
And yet, the Suns' 4th draft selection this year, the 50th overall pick, is often forgotten by the fans.
But before you disregard that pick entirely, there are plenty of reasons as to why a late second-rounder could be just as exciting as a first-round prospect. And to consider that late second-round selection a "wasted pick" would be pessimistic and naive.
To further look into the value of late second-rounders, I examined the last 15 drafts (from 1999 to 2013) and researched the impact that players taken 46th-60th overall had on their teams.
Of the 212 prospects I looked at, only 110 ever logged at least a minute of an NBA game. That means that only 51.9% of players selected in the 46-60th range actually made an NBA debut. That's a disappointingly low success rate.
And then there were plenty of players whose NBA "careers" turned out to be only a handful of games. Of the 110 prospects who made a debut at some point, exactly half (55) have made at least 50 career appearances to this date.
Those statistics might reaffirm the pessimistic viewpoint that late second-round picks hold virtually no value.
However, there have been enough gems found in recent years to hold faith in the worth of the late second-rounder. Let's look at some of those impact players now.
I'm still scratching my head wondering how Mo Williams was an All-Star in 2009 (17.8 PPG, 4.1 APG, 47% FG).
In fact, none of these players are truly "superstars". They aren't the primary scoring options on their respective teams.
However, they are all incontrovertibly valuable assets to any NBA team. Paul Millsap, for example, is averaging 16.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over his past four seasons with Utah and Atlanta. He has become one of the more dangerous and respected power forwards in the league.
Marc Gasol, the 2013 DPOY, has also become an elite center and a defensive anchor for the Memphis Grizzlies.
And of course, who can forget about Manu Ginobili, one of the greatest draft steals of all-time. The 57th overall pick now has two All-Star appearances, three championship rings, one Sixth Man of the Year trophy, and a likely spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The likelihood of getting a player of this caliber is slim, but still possible.
The Starters/Key Players
None of these players are stars, but they are the types of players you want to support and surround your stars.
Gortat, Scola, Korver and Johnson were all recently eliminated from the playoffs, but each one played a large role in his respective team's success. Danny Green has yet to be eliminated, as he'll try to terrorize the Heat from three-point range in the finals for the second straight year.
And then there's Isaiah Thomas, a promising point guard who is well on his way to making his first All-Star appearance.
If you can find this type of talent so late in the draft, you should gladly accept it.
Solid Bench Players
Players: Ryan Kelley (2013), Kyle O'Quinn (2012), Lavoy Allen (2011), Jeremy Evans (2010), Patty Mills (2009), Leon Powe (2006), Andray Blatche (2005), Ryan Gomes (2005), James Jones (2003), Rasual Butler (2002), Darius Songalia (2002), Jarron Collins (2001), Todd MacCulloch (1999)
They may not give you much, but it's better than nothing. These are all decent, and more importantly cheap, role players. They'll add depth to your bench for a small price and can usually remain relevant and productive for at least several years.
A late second-round pick can become an impact player more often than you would think. In the past 15 years, three All-Stars have been taken in the 46-50 range—Williams, Gasol and Millsap.
Compare that to the 26-30 range, where the Suns will also be picking this year. Five All-Stars have been taken in that group—David Lee, Josh Howard, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas. That's better, but still not such a pronounced difference.
Keep in mind that All-Star appearances don't mean everything. Dragic's absence from the 2014 All-Star game is evidence enough of the flawed voting system.
And furthermore, this absolutely does not mean that the 50th pick is anywhere near as valuable as the 27th, or the 18th, or the 14th.
But there are options out there. Past drafts have revealed that the late second-round offers at least a couple of impact players each year.
Do you trust McDonough to grab one of them this time around?