Draymond Green, picked 35th overall by the Warriors in 2012, has turned out to be a draft pick worthy of the envy of all other 29 teams. He has obviously been a catalyst in the Warriors surge to the top of the NBA mountain and is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year. His versatility and tenacity have made him one of the very best second round picks of the last 20 years. While every team hopes their second round pick in this week’s draft turns out like Green, the focus should be on identifying the prospects who have the best chance of replicating Green’s unique talents. There are three prospects in the 2017 NBA Draft who evoke traits of Draymond Green.
OG Anunoby, Indiana
Anunoby has perhaps the best combination of size and athleticism in this draft. He is roughly the same size as Green, but appears to have more muscle than Green did coming out college. He also has more bounce. During his freshman season, Indiana’s team defense got noticeably better throughout the year in part because Anunoby was getting more minutes. The Hoosiers’ coaching staff would rave about his work ethic and eagerness to learn. These traits, to go along with his freakish athleticism and good instincts can be the foundation for a terrific career. He was prepared to take on a greater role this past year before injuries derailed his season. Still, he showed flashes of his vast potential.
Health is probably the main concern for Anunoby. If he can stay on the court, at worst he will be a valuable defender. But he also has nice potential on offense. Anunoby has the best chance in this draft to become a defensive joker who takes on all comers just as Draymond Green does.
D.J. Wilson, Michigan
D.J. Wilson blossomed out of nowhere for the Wolverines in 2017, his junior season. Wilson, listed at 6’10”, became a matchup nightmare and his play helped propel Michigan to an improbable Big Ten tournament championship. Wilson has shown a nice ability to handle the ball as well as shoot it from deep. He shot 37.3% from distance on 110 attempts last year. His offensive game is ahead of his defense, but he is a willing rebounder and shows a knack for running the floor in transition. He did, nevertheless, have good shot-blocking numbers.
Wilson is most similar to Green in that, despite his size, he is not afraid to handle the ball on the perimeter and allow the offense to flow through him. With Wilson’s athleticism and extra length, he can improve his consistency on defense and unlock dangerous small-ball lineups for a future NBA team.
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
Nigel Hayes’ collegiate career mirrored Green’s in more ways than one. Both joined veteran teams in the Big Ten as under-hyped recruits and slowly earned minutes on the bench as freshmen. Both players appeared in the Final Four in each of their first two seasons. Both Green and Hayes were given larger roles as holdovers in their junior seasons and had turbulent campaigns. Green made more of his senior year, and the worry with Hayes is that he has plateaued over the past couple of seasons. But Hayes has shown aptitude in nearly every facet of the game over his great collegiate career. He shot 40/101 from three in his sophomore season. Early in his junior season, when Wisconsin played Oklahoma, he was assigned to defend a much smaller Buddy Hield. Hield, who would go on to win National Player of the Year, shot 5 of 16 for 12 points in that game. This past season, Hayes nearly recorded a triple-double against Syracuse, with one of his lowest scoring outputs; 9 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.
There have undoubtedly been games where Hayes disappeared – inconsistency is an issue. But the dip in his offensive efficiency occurred when he was asked to carry more of the scoring load, and no NBA team is going to make him the focal point of their offense. He thrived as a complementary player early in his career when he was flanked by Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, and in the NBA he certainly will be able to play off more offensively gifted teammates.
The obvious difference between Hayes and Green coming out of college could be described in one word: motor. Hayes’ inconsistency can be attributed to the lack of energy he submits some games – never an issue for Draymond Green. But Hayes has shown enough versatility in his game that if he can harness his defensive potential and be a consistent shooter, he will easily be worth a second round flyer.