July 22, 2024

Best available players in NBA Draft Round 2: Kyle Filipowski, Tyler Kolek and more

After 30 players came off the board in the first round of the NBA Draft on Wednesday, 28 more will hear their names called in Round 2 on Thursday.

The second round begins at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN. Below are the best players still available from our top 100.

Read Sam Vecenie’s winners and losers of NBA Draft Round 1

(Note: The number listed next to each player is their final overall rank on the top 100.)

NBA Draft 2024 tracker: Live updates, picks and trade analysis
Second-round mock draft: Sam Vecenie projects picks 31-58
Analysis, fits for every pick: John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie’s breakdown

16. Kyle Filipowski, F/C, Duke (6-11, 20 years old)

I’m higher on Kyle Filipowski than many evaluators. Look at the best offenses in the NBA. Most of them have floor-spacing bigs at the center position: Kristaps Porziņģis in Boston, Myles Turner in Indiana, Chet Holmgren in Oklahoma City, Nikola Jokić in Denver, Brook Lopez in Milwaukee and more. Those were five of the six best offensive teams in the NBA this season. In the modern professional game, it’s critical for teams to have a big man who can stretch the floor, act as a playmaker and create more space for attacking wings and guards. It’s difficult to find big men who can dribble, pass and shoot — there aren’t many of those players hanging around, and certainly not enough for every team in the league to have one.

Filipowski is close to being able to fill that role and will if his jumper continues to improve like it has for most prospects who show a minimum level of touch at this age. I’m also higher on his defense than many seem to be. I have him as a clear top-20 guy in the draft.

21. Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette (6-1, 23 years old)

Tyler Kolek was a two-time first-team All-Big East performer at Marquette. (Photo: Darryl Oumi / Getty Images)

Tyler Kolek had a phenomenal collegiate career, especially over the last two years. Few players across the country improved as much as he did. He struggled during his first year at Marquette and vaulted past that level by improving as a shooter and forcing teams to respect the threat of his offensive game. I love his vision as a passer and unselfish demeanor. I love his footwork and finishing ability. I love his strength and ability to playing through contact. But Kolek needs to prove that he can consistently make shots behind screens. Otherwise, NBA teams will dare him to fire from the perimeter.

I think he’ll reach a solid level in that area because he’s such a good shooter off the catch; it’s hard to believe he couldn’t grow into one off the bounce, too. There will be some defensive worries with his lack of size, length and speed. However, I buy him at least carving out a role in the NBA as a backup point guard. If his shooting comes around off the dribble and his finishing translates, he could be far better than that. His strength, footwork, touch and deceleration are traits he shares with many of the breakout lead guards of the past five years. I feel confident projecting him to be an awesome backup with potential for more.

25. Tyler Smith, F/C, G League Ignite (6-9, 19 years old)

Tyler Smith is a serious project whom I can understand a team falling in love with developmentally. His jumper is a significant weapon for his size. He’ll knock down shots throughout his career, and that’s meaningful at the 4 — or potentially at the 5 if he can get much stronger. However, his measurements and game make him too much of a tweener between the 4 and 5 spots right now. He’s not strong or physical enough to play the 5, but also doesn’t possess enough all-around skill to play the 4 yet. That’s where the leap needs to come for Smith. He needs to become more capable of putting the ball on the ground, making positive reads, processing the game and making an impact on the perimeter beyond shooting. That’s where he should fit best in the modern league.

On top of that, he’ll need to make significant defensive strides, because this year was a struggle on that end. That’s OK; he was a teenager playing professional basketball for the first time. But it also makes him a significant project. Certain teams will be more willing to take the plunge and see if they can get the most out of Smith’s physical tools. Others won’t want to take the time to develop him on defense. He seems like a player who likely will play in the NBA for a while but might end up working out better for the second team that gets him as opposed to the first.

27. Johnny Furphy, W, Kansas (6-8, 19 years old)

Johnny Furphy is an NBA project who must improve his jumper and ballhandling. Defensively, Furphy will have to work on his mechanics and become more instinctive. However, physically and athletically, he’s the kind of big wing every team is desperate to find. He’s been productive in college basketball and he’s still a teenager. I’m lower on Furphy than the consensus because I’d be less inclined to be the first team that must put in the time to develop him, but he’s well-regarded as a competitor and worker. It’s believable that Furphy will be the impact wing in a role that NBA teams covet by the time he turns 24. I just think it will take some time and a developmentally minded organization willing to put in the effort.

30. Ajay Mitchell, G, UC Santa Barbara (6-3, 22 years old)

Ajay Mitchell is one of my favorite upside swings in the draft. His ability to decelerate and play through contact as a shot creator is somewhat rare across the NBA. I buy his footwork translating to the NBA, where he’ll have even wider driving lanes. I also think he’s an underrated passer, and the NBA setting — where he’ll be surrounded by better players — will show those gifts even more.

This grade is a bet on him as a shooter. He must improve significantly there from average to well above-average as he scales down his usage. Because of that, I didn’t quite have what I’d consider to be a normal “first round” grade on Mitchell. His floor is not an NBA player if the jumper doesn’t improve, but his ceiling is higher than what meets the eye if his jumper takes a sizable leap — which could very well happen given his touch and the shot’s mechanics.

31. Jamal Shead, G, Houston (6-0, 21 years old)

Jamal Shead was the National Defensive Player of the Year this past season at Houston. (Photo: Stacy Revere / Getty Images)

Jamal Shead is one of my favorite players in the class, and I am higher on him than consensus. The last time a smaller guard made an NBA All-Defense team was in 2020, when both Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Beverley did so. I think Shead has their kind of upside on that end of the court if he can figure out an offensive role by improving as a shooter. He is among the most instinctive, high-IQ defensive players I’ve ever evaluated and possesses arguably the best motor I’ve seen on defense. I have zero question that Shead will be an impactful player on that end of the floor. He needs enough offense to consistently stay on the court.

He’s still young even though he’s a four-year player, as he won’t turn 22 until after Summer League. At a minimum, I’d be stunned if he doesn’t carve out a role as a backup point guard in the NBA. If his shooting comes along, there’s even a chance he becomes a high-impact role player. His defense is that good.

33. Cam Christie, W, Minnesota (6-5, 18 years old)

If we were projecting the kind of player Cam Christie will look like at 25, I would have a clear first-round grade on him because of his shooting. But we’re not projecting for that when it comes to the draft. We’re projecting the return-on-investment for the team that selects him. I’m worried that Christie is so far away physically and, as a result, will not be a good enough defender in time for the team that drafts him.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker has turned into an incredible defender and player. However, Alexander-Walker was so far away physically when he entered the league that he had three poor seasons before he was a throw-in in multiple trades involving star players. He’s worked his way into being a useful player, but the Pelicans did not get to reap those benefits after taking him at No. 17 in 2019.

Even Cam’s brother, Max, provides an example of this possibility. He turned pro after one year, provided the Lakers with two negatively valued seasons and now is hitting free agency. That route is a possibility for Cam Christie as well. I think he should have returned to school, made an enormous bag of name, image and likeness money and developed for one more year. His potential value is high enough that I would take him in the second round and give him a guaranteed deal in the hope that he develops more quickly than expected. Shooters are exceptionally useful, and second-rounders work out occasionally enough that it’s worth a bet on his upside.

36. Bobi Klintman, F, Cairns Taipans (Australia) (6-9, 21 years old)

Bobi Klintman is a fascinating bet for a team that buys into his tools and talent. He is the type of player NBA teams search the globe to acquire. He’s a big wing creator who can knock down shots from distance at a high level and has potential as a ballhandler and playmaker given his tape at lower levels. He can handle the ball and make passing reads, both in transition and out of ball screens. These qualities are exceedingly difficult to find in players this big; that alone will draw him a ton of interest.

He has some athletic deficiencies, however, that could hinder him from reaching his ceiling. He’s not overly explosive or powerful, which means it will be tough for him to get into the paint and create enough pressure on his defender to allow his skills to flourish. He needs to get bigger and stronger while maxing out his limited quickness. If he does that, Klintman will play in the NBA for a while, because the league is always looking for players his size who can dribble, pass, shoot and rebound.

37. Nikola Djurišić, W, Mega (Serbia) (6-7, 20 years old)

I thought Nikola Djurišić improved a lot on the ball this season. He was much more efficient and decisive than he was a season ago, when it would have been a mistake for him to enter the draft. Now, he could easily play and perhaps thrive in the G League, even though there are still some items to clean up. He must improve his handle and become a better decision-maker; those turnover numbers are crippling. More importantly, he must learn how to play without the ball and impact games when he’s not the driving offensive force. Role versatility is huge in today’s NBA, and not just defensively. Right now, Djurišić cannot scale his game down effectively. Over the next two years, he needs to show that he can shoot off the catch.

I love his confidence and aggressiveness; those traits, along with his on-ball talent, make me willing to give him a guaranteed contract as a second-round pick (or, better yet, stash him overseas for another year). But I can’t grade him as a first-rounder because I worry he’ll be unable to play off the ball while not being good enough to play on it in the best league in the world.

38. Cam Spencer, G, UConn (6-3, 24 years old)

I believe in Cam Spencer. I get his limitations, but I tend to buy into guys who have elite character, competitiveness and approach to the game. Spencer doesn’t just get nice reviews from the Connecticut coaching staff on the intentional, strategic way he goes about his development and game; he gets raves. He was a professional playing college basketball this season, and that allowed him to get the most out of his potential while helping his team to a national title. On top of that, he’s an all-situations shooter who I believe will knock down shots from any angle at anytime from anywhere on the court. That’s a serious skill to bring to the table in the spacing-conscious NBA.

For me, he’s on the border of deserving a guaranteed deal or a two-way contract. If some of my other targets were gone and I had roster space, I’d be more than happy to give Spencer a couple of guaranteed years to figure it out and see what happens.

(Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images)