The NBA Draft and finding prospective role players

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Isaiah Thomas and Danny Green were both drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft. (Photo: Steven Chea)

There were no big name prospects featured in yesterday’s pre-draft workout. The players who showcased their skills before the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday are all projected to go in the second round or even undrafted in this year’s NBA Draft.

Workouts like yesterday’s may not have the buzz of those that feature the draft’s projected lottery picks. However, they are where talent evaluators like Kings new general manager Pete D’Alessandro prove their worths. Finding the next Tim Duncan or LeBron James is easy. But finding the next Gary Neal or Chris Andersen isn’t.

Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is currently projected as a mid-second round pick according to Draft Express’ latest mock draft. With a glaring weakness at the wing, Thomas was one of six the Kings gave a look to yesterday.

Averaging 19.8 points per game, Thomas led the Buckeyes in scoring in his final season at Columbus. He won’t be getting the kind of touches that merit the same production at the next level. So is the 21-year-old wing ready to take a step back and play a role in the NBA?

“I can be a role (player), to come off the bench or whatever and be a knockdown shooter,” Thomas said earnestly yesterday. “Come off the bench to give great energy. I can be that guy – any guy to help my teammates out.”

While the Kings have been unsuccessful in recent years, great teams like the San Antonio Spurs have been able to mine for the kind of players that Thomas aspires to be. In order to get their attention, prospects like the former Ohio State standout must carve out niches in order to stick. If successful, a career in this league isn’t out of the question.

Take Danny Green for example. Drafted with the 46th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, the Spurs starting shooting guard bounced around the league to the minors and even had a brief stop overseas in his four-year career. He was cut twice before finally finding his place with the Spurs in the lockout-shortened season.

What separates the second-tier players like Green who make it from those who don’t?  Thomas believes that a lot of it has to do with attitude.

“That’s a guy who didn’t quit, who kept at it and kept his focus,” Thomas said.

Accepting a role when you’ve been the man your entire life can’t be easy. But for the majority of prospects in this year’s draft, it’s the only way they’ll survive in the competitive world of the NBA.

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