2020 NBA Draft: Second Round Steals

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SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Syracuse Orange Forward Elijah Hughes (33) dribbles the ball along the baseline with Cornell Big Red Guard Bryan Knapp (5) defending during the second half of the college basketball game between the Cornell Big Red and the Syracuse Orange on November 20, 2019, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The bulk of the 2020 NBA Draft coverage will be on the lottery, and rightfully so. The players who will be drafted that high have earned that right. It doesn’t stop there, however. The 2020 NBA Draft may be no different. Time and time again many players in the drafted in the second round exceed expectations, and some even become stars. For example, the past couple of decades saw Manu Ginobili, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd, and more picked late. More recently, players such as Malcolm Brogdon, Montrezl Harrell, Josh Richardson, and Mitchell Robinson have also been second-round steals.

Potential Second Round Steals for the 2020 NBA Draft

Elijah Hughes

Elijah Hughes, a Syracuse guard, can flat out score the basketball. Last season he was one of the best guards and leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference, arguably the top conference in college basketball.

He has NBA size, so although he’s already 22, he won’t need time to bulk up for the pro game. His offensive style is already tailored for today’s league. Hughes takes a high volume of three-point shots and is an excellent cutter to the basket. His shooting percentage from deep (35 percent) isn’t stellar, but he carried a heavy offensive load last season.

Hughes will have to work on his defensive game as he spent most of his time in a zone defense. With this being said, he’s an excellent shot-blocker for a wing player. He might not be a star, but he is similar to the aforementioned Richardson on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Markus Howard

Markus Howard has long been one of the best pure scorers in college basketball. He’s also an excellent and efficient shooter considering his high usage rate.

Unlike Hughes, however, Howard lacks NBA size. His height, 5’11”, is what will likely cause him to slide in the 2020 NBA Draft. Despite this, he is a workhorse and did not let his physical limitations slow him down in college. Although being a point guard, Howard isn’t an elite distributor by any means. His game revolves around his scoring, so he will likely be used as a spark plug off the bench in the NBA.

J.J. Barea is a solid pro ceiling for Howard. Barea has never been a true starter but has had a long and serviceable NBA career, primarily for the Dallas Mavericks, serving as a quick scorer off the bench. He can come in when his team is in an offensive rut and swing the momentum. If Howard can be the same, he is worth a second-round selection.

Udoka Azubuike

Udoka Azubuike‘s game is that of a more traditional center. He won’t stretch the floor or rack up assists. What he can offer, however, is still of value.

First of all, Azubuike is massive. He stands at 7 feet and weighs in at 274 pounds. Added onto this is a 7’7″ wingspan. His size is almost identical to that of another former Kansas Jayhawk Joel Embiid. Azubuike is a beast in the paint offensively and defensively. His field goal percentage was other-worldly at 75 percent, and he blocked 2.6 shots per game last season. Not to mention he also grabbed 10.5 boards per game.

Size and strength will always be valued in the league. Azubuike offers this. Another strong facet of his game is a low foul rate. He played 28 minutes per game last season, and only averaged 2.4 fouls. He’s worth a gamble for a team looking for a very solid back-up center.

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