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2014 NBA Draft: 10 Potential Stars Projected to Go In Second Round

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2014 NBA Draft: 10 Projected Second-Rounders With Star-Potential

2014 NBA Draft: 10 Projected Second-Rounders With Star-Potential
Kelley L. Cox - USA Today Sports Images

Excitement is the name of the game when it comes to basketball around this time of year. In terms of the NBA, there is about a month and a half remaining in the 2013-14 regular season, which means that the stakes for every game are higher than ever before because of their playoff implications.

However, the basketball excitement picking up in March is also largely due to the rapidly approaching NCAA Tournament and the March Madness that makes College Basketball so special. Not every one of the players on the 68 teams that makes it to the tourney is going to end up in the Association playing ball at the highest level. However, the tournament is a time where guys can make a name for themselves.

It’s highly unlikely that anyone not even remotely on the radar as of right now is going to wind up miraculously finding themselves getting picked in the lottery based on their play in the NCAA Tournament, but it does provide guys with limited stock heading into the 2014 NBA Draft the potential to improve their standing and move up on draft boards.

Bringing it back to the NBA, though, one of the things that has proven to be tremendously beneficial to teams in recent years is being able to land quality players with their second-round picks. Players like Chandler Parsons and Isaiah Thomas were picked in the second round by their respective teams and are now on the precipice of stardom in this league.

With March Madness on the near horizon, we’re going to get a look at Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, but we’ll also get a glimpse at late-round talent that could have an impact in the NBA and see what these guys are capable of on the biggest stage that the NCAA has to offer or perhaps at the end of the season in another, lesser league than the NBA. Who are 10 projected second-round picks that could potentially be stars at the pro level.

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10. Thanasis Antetokounmpo – D-League

10. Thanasis Antetokounmpo – D-League
Jack Arent - Getty Images

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that my interest in Thanasis Antetokounmpo wasn’t at least partially due to the fact that his brother is Milwaukee Bucks rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo (if the last name didn’t give that away). Thanasis has played in 38 games with the Delaware 87ers in the D-League this season and has been decent. The 21-year-old has averaged 10.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, one steal and 1.3 blocks in 28.1 minutes per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the floor. Thanasis has impressive athleticism, though his skills need developing. However, his raw tools alone make him an intriguing option at the next level.

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9. Nick Johnson - Arizona

9. Nick Johnson - Arizona
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports Images

Junior guard Nick Johnson seemed poised to have an incredibly prolific year with the Arizona Wildcats this year after how well he played in his junior year. Johnson has stepped up for the talented Wildcats and has averaged 16.2 points, 2.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, but the most troubling part is that his three-point percentage has dropped from 39.3 percent as a sophomore to 33.6 percent this season. However, Johnson can fill it up from the perimeter, which is something that will likely carry over to the NBA and make him a high-upside prospect.

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8. Jordan McRae - Tennessee

8. Jordan McRae - Tennessee
Dak Dillon - USA Today Sports Images

Some people might argue that Jarnell Stokes is the best pro prospect for the Tennessee Volunteers, but my attention lies with senior guard Jordan McRae. The 6’6” wing brings good size and length to the floor and, in-turn, can score in a variety of ways that can keep opponents guessing. McRae has work to do in terms of bulking up and becoming a better defender, but he’s a player that could really turn some heads when he makes it into the league.

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7. Keith Appling - Michigan State

7. Keith Appling - Michigan State
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Michigan State has been up-and-down this season, though no one has ever questioned their potential. Though he doesn’t have the upside of teammate Gary Harris, Spartans point guard Keith Appling has had a nice run this year. Playing 32 minutes per contest, Appling has put up 13.6 points, 4.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 39.5 percent from deep. Appling has worked hard on his efficiency as a scorer and has continued to display his abilities as a floor general. There’s a chance that his skill and intangibles could take him places in the pros.

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6. Glenn Robinson III - Michigan

6. Glenn Robinson III - Michigan
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In his second year with the Michigan Wolverines, forward Glenn Robinson III has had a bit of a rough time adjusting to life without Trey Burke as has the rest of the team. However, Robinson has still been decent with averages of 13 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game on 49.3 percent shooting. Robinson III is a terrific athlete and a smart player with loads of potential. Pair him with a talented point guard in the NBA and have talent around him as well and Robinson III could really shine in the Association.

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5. Russ Smith - Louisville

5. Russ Smith - Louisville
Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports Images

After cutting down the nets last season with the Louisville Cardinals, Russ Smith has continued to be a force for this team, even showing major improvements. Playing 28.3 minutes per game, the guard has put up 17.7 points, 4.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the floor and 37.6 percent from long-distance. Smith’s biggest limitation in the league is going to be his size, but he’s highly energetic, talented, and could be a sparkplug star sixth man in the NBA when all is said and done.

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4. Zach LaVine - UCLA

4. Zach LaVine - UCLA
Gary A. Vasquez - USA Today Sports Images

Zach LaVine hasn’t played the largest part in the UCLA system in his freshman year, but the youngster has been fantastic in the role he’s been placed in. The 6’5” guard has averaged 10.8 points, 2.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds and one steal in 25.7 minutes per game this year while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 42.2 percent from three. LaVine is an offensive weapon already that will only become more potent of a scorer with maturation and experience. He has the chance to one day be a guy who can light it up at the NBA level.

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3. Markel Brown - Oklahoma State

3. Markel Brown - Oklahoma State
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Marcus Smart is the alpha-dog for Oklahoma State; that’s no secret. However, senior guard Markel Brown isn’t without interest in terms of his potential in the NBA. Playing 34.7 minutes per game, Brown has averaged 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and one block per game while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 36.7 percent from three. Brown is undersized, but is a phenomenal athlete that can explode on either end of the floor. He has the tools to really make a name for himself when he gets into the NBA.

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2. Alex Poythress – Kentucky

2. Alex Poythress – Kentucky
Mark Zerof - USA Today Sports Images

Alex Poythress is playing seven minutes fewer per game this season with Kentucky, which hasn’t totally allowed him to show what he’s capable of. In 18.5 minutes, Poythress is averaging 6.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game while hitting 49.6 percent of his shots. Poythress is a guy unafraid to hustle and put in the dirty work on either end of the floor that also has length and athleticism to accompany that. It’s hard to know for certain, but the potential seems to be there for Poythress to be big in the Association.

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1. Mitch McGary - Michigan

1. Mitch McGary - Michigan
Rick Osentoski - USA Today Sports Images

Much like with Robinson III, big man Mitch McGary has struggled without Trey Burke on the Wolverines. Moreover, McGary has suffered some concerning injuries throughout the year. Assuming he can stay healthy, though, there’s no denying the big man can play. McGary has a stout 6’10” frame without the awkwardness young big man sometimes possess. McGary is a no-brainer for this list. He’s projected to go early in the second round right now after potentially being a lottery pick had he left last season. Simple as that.