John Starks. Brad Miller. Ben Wallace. The underdog. The come-up. That’s what this article is about, pinpointing those guys who are overlooked and passed over. Those three guys I mentioned above were all undrafted and all of them became All-Stars. For many, Draft Night is about celebration and security. But, others have to deal with the unknown. Here are the top five players from this year’s class who didn’t heard their name called:
Collins came back to school when he didn’t necessarily have to and that was supposed to help him in a Draft class devoid of floor generals. Instead, he went completely undrafted. A lot of that could be due to his weight issues; multiple teams complained that he was out of shape during workouts. He weighed in at 217, way too much for someone his size. While he has made steps to get into better shape since, his problem is that he has no NBA skill. He is a solid deep shooter (37 percent from three) but not lights-out. He can make plays, but he is no maestro with the ball. He might be a tough kid from the streets of Chicago, but no one ever considered him a menace defensively. The more scouts watched him in college, the more it seemed like he was just another decent college point guard rather than the next Ty Lawson. How can Collins make a team? Be a bulldog. He must prove himself to be a pest on defense and an energy-starter off the bench. Think Kyle Lowry.
It’s amazing nobody took a flyer on this kid from California. He’s only 5-10, but can really shoot it and can really compete. There are a lot of guys in this league, especially in this day, who can get by with speed and quickness. Aaron Brooks does. So do Ronnie Price and Will Bynum. Randle is probably a better shooter than all of them. This dude shot over 40 percent from deep during four years of college ball and averaged at least 18 points a game two straight seasons. He was the leading scorer in Cal’s school history and showed he could get it done as a point or as a small two. Randle could definitely play a role similar to what Juan Dixon used to do: a specialist who comes in for a few minutes a game to open up the court with his shooting. Pundits always say guys like these need an NBA skill to stick. Randle has one. I bet that he will be on a roster by the start of the regular season.
I bet some people will think this is crazy, but I’m serious. Not the prettiest player in the world, but it was surprising not one GM thought this legitimate seven-footer could bring some toughness to their frontline. The late bloomer’s numbers as a senior don’t stand out. He averaged just 5.5 points and less than a block a game. But, he was the anchor defensively on a Duke championship squad. He’s not a fluid athlete and makes Kendrick Perkins look like Hakeem Olajuwon in the post. That’s probably what kept someone from taking a chance on him. There is no way he could be anything other than a 10-minute/a game banger, but for the small price of a second rounder, someone should have taken him. Hell, you could even use him as strictly a practice player just to rough up your other young and developing bigs. A lot of people might just hate to hate, but normally there is a spot in the league for a 7-1 guy who can rebound and play physical. He will have to prove in the summer leagues that he can be a threat to finish offensively.
A smooth player that is capable of playing multiple positions, Harris has the body and feel of a NBA player. He played three years at Michigan and filled up the box scores every night in the Big 10. Last year, he averaged around 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. He was one of the best play-makers in the country and showed throughout his college career that he could initiate offenses from the top of the key. At 6-5 with exceptionally all-around basketball skills, Harris was the highest rated player (45) on Chad Ford’s Big Board who didn’t get drafted. Perhaps he fell into a numbers game? As a wing player, nothing about him stands out. While he definitely has the talent to make a squad, if a team were to draft him, he doesn’t have that one overriding skill. It could be very hard to break into the rotation. Harris does nothing spectacular. He’s just solid. Tonight, that wasn’t good enough, but I think he will get more than one shot at landing somewhere.
Landesberg passes the eye test for an NBA wing with great size at 6-6 and a 6-9 wingspan. Plus, he is only 20 years old and averaged 17 points a game during his two seasons at Virginia. He is adept at getting to the basket and does have a pretty decent outside jumper. During his two years in the ACC, Landesberg had games of 24 against Florida State, 20 against Duke and even 32 versus Boston College. Landesberg’s problem is that he is an average defender at best and isn’t overly athletic. He’s kind of a poor man’s Chris Douglas-Roberts. He was highly touted coming out of high school and for a while during his freshman season, there were rumblings Landesberg was better than Tyreke Evans. Obviously, most scouts came back down to Earth with his projections. He is going to have to prove he can to make a roster, but I’m thinking he is going to land somewhere. Landesberg is good enough to put up big numbers in the NBA summer leagues and that’ll bring some much needed attention to him.
Other Notables: Marqus Blakely, Matt Bouldin, Jon Scheyer, Mikhail Torrance, Charles Garcia
What do you think?
Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.