Although the first round of the NBA draft is the most exciting of the two, the second round tends to be the most intriguing, as the remaining teams try to select the best, underrated starlets left on the board that could potentially provide the talent needed to anchor their franchise.
We’ve seen this with players like Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, and most notably, back-to-back MVP Winner Nikola Jokic. Though it can be challenging to find those ‘diamonds in the rough,’ every year presents another opportunity for a handful of teams to secure that overlooked, rising star or two that can be something special in this league.
This year, the Hawks have the 14th pick in the second round (44th overall) and could easily be that team that stumbles across a bright, game-changing prospect. But in order to get a better feel and idea of what kind of talent they could have available with their selection, we’re going to take a look at how the history has unfolded for the four previous 44th overall pick holders.
On that note, let’s get right to it.
2021 44th Overall Pick Team: Brooklyn Nets
Player Selected: Kessler Edwards, SF - Pepperdine
Rookie Stats: 20.6 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.6 APG, 41.2 FG%, 35.3 3P%
Since the Nets have quite the star-studded cast with plenty of big minute starters, Kessler Edwards didn’t receive much playing time to display his talent until late December, when the Nets rotation became depleted due to injuries and COVID-19.
But when he got his opportunity, Edwards demonstrated his solid skill set, predicated on his ability to score the ball well both inside and on the perimeter, crash the glass with strong athleticism and anticipation, and exert his defensive talent by blocking shots and staying in front of his opponents. On December 14th, Kessler recorded his first career double-double, scoring 17 points on 58.3% shooting from the field to go with ten rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
2020 44th Overall Pick Team: Chicago Bulls
Player Selected: Marko Simonovic, C - Montenegro
Rookie Stats: 3.9 MPG, 1.9 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.1 BPG, 26.7 FG%, 20.0 3P%
If you thought Edwards had it rough in Brooklyn with getting playing time, you should think again when evaluating Marko Simonovic’s rookie season. Considering Nikola Vučević predominantly anchored the center position, any remaining minutes were usually allocated between Tristan Thompson and Tony Bradley, leaving Simonovic with hardly any extra to work with.
Simonovic only played nine games for the Bulls this season, so he didn’t have much to show for as a result. That said, in a January blow-out loss to the Golden State Warriors, Simonovic recorded an impressive eight points, four rebounds, and one steal in just seven minutes of play.
2019 44th Overall Pick Team: Miami Heat
Player Selected: Bol Bol, PF – Oregon (Traded to Denver Nuggets)
Career Stats: 6.2 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.3 BPG, 47.8 FG%, 37.8 3P%
Given all the hype and excitement that was circulating around the potential of Bol Bol coming out of college, it’s been interesting to see how his young career in the NBA has shaped out to be.
Despite playing in 53 games over his first three seasons for the Denver Nuggets, Bol struggled to gain the playing time he needed to make much of an impact, and when Michael Porter Jr. went down with a season-ending back injury, Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green, and JaMychal Green all beat him out for more minutes.
Earlier this year, Bol was traded first to the Celtics and then later to the Orlando Magic. He wouldn’t play a single game for either team due to undergoing surgery on his right foot in January.
2018 44th Overall Pick Team: Washington Wizards
Player Selected: Issuf Sanon, PG - Ukraine
Despite being selected by the Wizards before his draft rights were traded to the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, Issuf Sannon never played in an NBA game. Although he did not receive a shot at playing for an NBA team, Sanon decided to sign a one-year deal with a Slovenian club called Petrol Olimpija.
Following his short stint in Slovenia, Sannon would go back to Ukraine and play with Dnipro for just about three seasons before signing with the Lithuanian team, BC Šiauliai, earlier this year.
2016 44th Overall Pick Team: Atlanta Hawks
Player Selected: Isaia Cordinier, SG - France
Unfortunately, Cordinier didn’t play a single game in the NBA. On July 13, 2018, Cordinier's draft rights were traded to the Brooklyn Nets, along with a future 2nd-round pick, for Jeremy Lin and picks. In September 2021, the Nets renounced Cordinier's draft rights, making him an unrestricted free agent. While Cordinier's NBA career did not pan out, he has enjoyed a respectable professional career overseas.
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