Second-round picks more important than ever in NBA

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Fortunately for the savvy NBA general manager, second-round picks cost them little in the way of up-front investment.

The trend offers encouragement for some of the fringe prospects in this year’s draft. They watched players who weren’t picked in the lottery become featured pieces in the postseason, offering a road map to the NBA one way or another.

“There are a lot of different routes to the NBA,” Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren said. “You don’t have to be a lottery pick or a first-rounder to make an impact in the league. I don’t know if that’s what it’s going to take for me. Whatever it takes, I’m going to stick with it and hopefully reach my goal of one day playing in the NBA, however I get there.”

And even if they don’t hear their name called Thursday night, Neal offered a little bit of advice on how to channel the disappointment into something productive.

“Just dealing with the reality that I wasn’t going to get drafted, that’s like a crossroad for a lot of guys coming out of college,” Neal said. “You realize you’re not going to get drafted and there’s a great chance that you might not become an NBA player.

“You kind of have to make your mind up that you want to continue on professionally and take the European route and take it seriously. After I talked it over with my family, that’s what I decided to do. I was able to mentally just get past the European thing and go over there and be professional about it.”

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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