In the final section of prospect coverage, here’s a look at 10 second round prospects with intriguing upside – the deep cuts if you will. “Second Round Steals” is also a good term for this group, but that’s the name of a podcast I did back in 2015 that never got off the ground. (The podcast episodes are on YouTube if you want to hear me and a friend awkwardly fumble through NBA team previews.) For a few of these players, what’s important are their skillsets, rather than their production. That’s what the best talent evaluators see in workouts – how can these players succeed in the NBA? That’s likely what the Nets are looking for.
Kevin Hervey, Wing, UT-Arlington (CMP: 47.00)
Hervey was a stud for UT Arlington. A scoring combo forward, Hervey knows how to hunt for buckets. In the NBA, he’ll probably be utilized as a stretch four, where his high release jumper and energy could be useful for a bench unit. He excels shooting off of screens, but also isn’t afraid to pull up off of the dribble – a rare skill for NBA stretch bigs. He’s also effective as an off-ball player, finding easy baskets off of cuts and dives to the basket. Even with his primary role in UT-Arlington’s offense, Hervey still scored against heavy coverage. He also excelled on the boards, using his wingspan and effort to grab rebounds. Hervey’s wingspan works in his favor as a switch defender. At the NBA Draft Combine, Hervey’s offense shined, but he may have raised eyebrows with his versatile defense. In a smaller role on NBA squads, he could devote more effort to playing effective, rangy defense.
Despite Hervey’s prototypical stretch-4 skillset, he never really shot at an effective clip. It’s tough being a stretch-four that can’t shoot, and Hervey’s lower than expected shooting numbers can be attributed to multiple factors. Because he was the man for UT Arlington, he often forced up some questionable shots. Consistency will be a big question for him as a pro as well. Hervey’s tweener status works against him. He may not be able to rebound as effectively due to his slimmer stature, and he could struggle defending quicker forwards due to his average athleticism. It will also be important for Hervey to adjust to a much lower usage role as a pro.
Bad news. Hervey has torn both of his ACL’s in the past. He seems to have recovered well, but that’s always a concern. Hervey is a player that has peaked at the right times. He played well at the NBA Draft Combine, which brought him into second round consideration. His ability to score in multiple ways, along with his positional versatility could be appealing to the Nets in the second round. If drafted by the Nets, he could fill the role taken by Dante Cunningham in the second half of the season – a perimeter forward that can guard multiple positions adequately.
Kenrich Williams, Big, TCU (CMP: 50.25)
From this point forward, Kenrich Williams will be known as a point forward. (That was really bad, sorry.) Williams will likely thrive as a small-ball or mismatch 4, with a bigger body able to handle physicality down low. Williams is a highly skilled player for his size, and will impress with his ballhandling and vision. He can run pick and roll easily, with the body control to finish plays off the bounce and really slick vision to find either the roll man or cutters. He also isn’t afraid to initiate the offense in halfcourt sets or facilitate from the post. Williams is also comfortable shooting from deep, with a clean looking jumper. On the defensive end, Williams plays smart. He understands angles and positioning, but also has an active motor. He’ll likely be better as a team defender rather than an individual one. Additionally, Williams is a great rebounder, using his smarts, motor, and physicality to grab boards on both ends of the floor. He averaged nearly three offensive boards per game in three years at TCU.
Williams, even with his smart play on both ends, could be less effective in the NBA. He has a neutral wingspan and is an average athlete at best. He’s a player that would be ranked much higher if he were two inches taller or shorter and more athletic – being a tweener is tough. He’ll likely be overmatched on defense and won’t get past players on offense, but his effort may mitigate at least some of that. Williams will likely be a ballhandler on select plays, and could be paired with a point guard that thrives off ball. Williams’ tendency to commit turnovers and force plays could be an issue when confronted with defensive pressure. He’ll need to refine his dribble skills especially if he can’t get past defenders with finesse.
I get it. The Nets don’t have the best history with players with the last name “Williams,” so if that plays into your decision into not liking Kenrich as a prospect, that’s totally understandable. But Kenrich Williams is a well-rounded, mature prospect for a second round pick. He reportedly has interest from the Boston Celtics. But if drafted by the Nets, he could be a solid fit within the Nets’ offensive scheme. He brings a well-rounded skillset to the four slot. He could be an undersized, yet high effort big in the Nets’ scheme.
Issuf Sanon, Guard, Union Olimpija (CMP: 50.75)
Sanon is a pace-pushing guard that has only recently gotten second round love. Sanon plays with the turbo button jammed, always looking to push the pace to score or set up teammates. He’s confident running the floor and will score most of his points in transition. He’s pretty skilled at finding teammates while on the move, particularly with dump off and skip passes. The Ukrainian teenager is pretty shifty as a ballhandler, using hesitation dribbles to stun defenders in the halfcourt. Sanon is pretty confident running the pick and roll, and can rise quickly on penetration after screens. On defense, he uses his solid wingspan to cover both guard slots. He competes on that end as well, fighting through screens and moving his feet solidly for a “raw” prospect.
As expected from a young, uptempo guard, Sanon’s biggest issue is control. He’s quite turnover prone, and led the NBA Global Camp in turnovers. He’ll need to continue working on his playmaking skills to be effective as an NBA combo guard. As a shooter, Sanon may need to work on his mechanics, with inconsistency from the perimeter and really poor fundamentals at the free throw line. The release point on his jumper is at his face, and he may need to bring his release up to score off the bounce more effectively. Additionally, Sanon’s defensive effort must improve – while he has the tools to be a good defender, he has a tendency to ball watch when he’s not guarding the lead ballhandler.
Do the Nets like Sanon? Maybe. Trajan Langdon was spotted scouting Sanon in Slovenia in May. So the Nets have done their due diligence on him. Sanon seems like a prime draft-and-stash candidate. He has the tools to be a hyperactive, pace-pushing combo guard for the Nets in the future. A little more seasoning against tougher European competition could ready Sanon for the 82-game grind of an NBA backcourt player.
Isaac Bonga, Wing, Skyliners Frankfurt (CMP: 53.75)
The other German prospect in this year’s draft (Moritz Wagner is the higher profile one) could be an interesting long-term stash candidate. Projecting as a point forward type, Bonga has a concrete foundation to be an interesting player in the modern NBA. Bonga runs the floor with long strides, and can get to the rim in as little as two steps. Right now, he’s most successful as a scorer on straight line drives. He’s an active playmaker for his size, fashioning himself as a point guard. He uses his height to peer over defenders and find his teammates down low on the move. His passes often look effortless, showing comfort with his own playmaking vision and IQ. He can run the pick and roll and is pretty shifty as a downhill ballhandler as well. On the defensive end, Bonga has the potential to guard at least three positions. He uses his length to contain ballhandlers, and will get into the passing lane to generate deflections.
Bonga’s best skills come and go as flashes. As a ballhandler, he still tends to play with little decisiveness, often complicating plays for himself and waiting too long to make his move. When driving to the rim, larger defenders can deter him. He’ll take some really questionable shots at the rim with almost any close pressure. Bonga isn’t much of a threat shooting off the dribble as well. His jumper form isn’t great, with a low release point and a lot of knee bending. He shoots free throws well, so the jumper could come along with time. Defensively, he tends to get a little foul prone, especially against smaller players. That could be an issue that could be corrected if he learns to position himself better and slide defensively.
As another teenage draft prospect, Bonga doesn’t have the pedigree of his International counterparts. He’ll need to play in a more competitive league in Europe, or spend a year or two in the G-League working specifically to hone his intriguing potential. He’s another prototype player that the Nets could develop and mold in their own image. Bonga has workable skills that could lead to him hearing his name called much earlier than some mock drafts suggest. He could be in play for the Nets at picks 40 or 45, and would be low-risk, potentially high reward if developed and nurtured correctly.
Svi Mykhailiuk, Wing, Kansas (CMP: 55.00)
Mykhailiuk will be a high level shooter in the NBA, if nothing else. He shot 40% from the field for his career at Kansas, showing an ability to get his shot off in any perimeter situation. Mykhailiuk’s jumper is pure, with a quick release and textbook form, even when drawing contact. He’s comfortable putting the ball on the floor for 1-3 dribbles and pulling up. He’s also pretty slick getting to the rim, with nice floaters and teardrops to complement his shooting. He’s decently quick for his size, and his shooting is enough of a threat to get many defenders to bite on his pump fake. Svi is also a solid playmaker, finding his teammates adeptly if he doesn’t have a clear look at the rim. He has an advanced understanding of offensive systems as a four-year collegiate player. Defensively, he tries. (More on that later.) He’s an aware defender off-ball, fighting through screens and closing out well if needed.
If I had a 6’5” wingspan, I’d be ecstatic (and would look pretty weird.) But for a 6’8” wing, Mykhailiuk is likely a late draft prospect because of his 6’5” wingspan. Wingspan isn’t everything, but Mykhailiuk will likely never be a good one-on-one defender because of his negative wingspan and skinnier frame. He can make up for his deficiencies with a concentrated defensive effort, but he could be a target of opposing offenses in isolation situations. On the offensive end, Svi runs hot and cold way too often. He has games where he’s completely locked in from the perimeter, and other games where he’ll pass up on shots because of a few bad shots to start the game. While he does have solid moves on drives, he’ll most likely struggle with physicality and more explosive athletes.
Mykhailiuk doesn’t come into the draft with the notoriety of other similar pure shooters in this year’s draft. However, his shooting and smarts are excellent skills that could easily translate to the NBA. The Nets could take a late round shot at Svi to add a legitimate three-point threat to their offense. He could even go undrafted and be a summer league invite for the Nets on a “prove it” type deal. As a four-year player at a great program, he’ll come in ready to contribute.
Up Next: Deep Cuts, Part 2