CLEMSON - It wasn't a cataclysmic slip, but K.J. McDaniels ended up on the not-so-advantageous side of the inter-round bridge.
Had McDaniels been taken late in the first round, not only would he have ended up with a perennial playoff-contending club (San Antonio, Miami, OKC, LA Clippers, etc.) but his contract would have been guaranteed as a top-30 pick.
Instead, Clemson's first-team all-ACC forward joins a rebuilding project in Philadelphia, which had the second-worst record in the NBA last winter.
McDaniels also faces an uphill climb to remain relevant in the NBA: the last seven No. 32 picks before him are no longer in the league, and none lasted longer than two years. Only one No. 32 pick in the past 60 years (Rashard Lewis) has made an All-Star Team.
Think that's arbitrary based on No. 32? It's just an illustration. Plus, go look at the second-rounders from the past four years or so. The occasional success story breaks through - the Pacers' Lance Stephenson, the Rockets' Chandler Parsons and the Warriors' Draymond Green come to mind - but more often than not, NBA teams simply aren't counting on second-rounders to be their savior.
However, McDaniels is still in line for a nice payday. Unlike NFL first-year contracts which strictly adhere to the rookie wage scale (and all are 4-year deals, per the CBA), NBA agents and teams have more flexibility in how to sign their newest players.
Unfortunately, the previous pair of No. 32 picks were each international players who have yet to appear in an NBA game or sign a contract, so I couldn't use them as examples. Therefore, let's go with the top four second-round picks of the 2013 NBA Draft who did sign with their teams. (All figures are courtesy of the amazingly addictive web site, Spotrac.com.)
No. 31: Allen Crabbe, SG, Blazers
2 years, $1,687,000 ($843,500 avg) ... $825,000 in 2013-14 ... $1,687,000 guaranteed (whole contract guaranteed, club option for 2015-16)
No. 33: Carrick Felix, SG, Thunder
4 years, $3,289,454 ($822,364 avg) ... $510,000 in 2013-14 ... $2,273,758 guaranteed (first 3 years guaranteed)
No. 34: Isaiah Canaan, PG, Rockets
3 years, $2,334,273 ($778,091 avg) ... $570,515 in 2013-14 ... $2,144,818 guaranteed (first 2 years guaranteed, 3rd year 80 percent guaranteed)
No. 35: Glen Rice, Jr., SG, Wizards
2 years, $1,306,662 ($653,331 avg) ... $490,180 in 2013-14 ... $890,180 guaranteed (first year guaranteed, 2nd year roughly 50 percent guaranteed)
As you can see, we've got a 4-year deal, a 3-year deal and a couple of 2-year deals. And as you would expect, the average salary per season on the contract is highest for No. 31, and decreases a bit with each pick thereafter. Since wage scales escalate each season, we should project McDaniels to be looking at approximately $850,000 per season on his rookie deal - maybe a touch less than that, but not much.
As closely bunched as Crabbe, Felix, Canaan and Rice were within the draft, it's interesting to see how much their pro teams invested in them. Crabbe was only given a 2-year deal, but the whole thing ($1.687 million) was guaranteed, and the club can pick up his option for a third season at nearly $950,000.
Felix might have the sweetest situation, with the most years on the contract and the most guaranteed money. But while Crabbe banked $825,000 last year, Felix dipped to $510,000, as his salary leaps to $816,482 next year, so he had to be a bit patient.
Canaan's pretty secure, as more than 90 percent of his 3-year deal is guaranteed. Rice has to prove himself with the Wizards, with just a 2-year pact that guaranteed him less than a million dollars up front.
If McDaniels ends up with a Rice-like deal, he'll have to be very, very good immediately if he doesn't want to end up in Europe before his mid-20s. But a contract similar to Felix's might show the 76ers want to develop him within a young athletic core of 6-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams - the 2014 Rookie of the Year - and rim-protectors Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.
We shall see.