Every year, some player slips through the cracks and ends up making a team after going undrafted. Recent examples of this trend are Jeremy Lin, Alonzo Gee and Samardo Samuels, players who have carved out niches in the NBA. These are the ten best undrafted players from yesterday’s draft.
1. Kevin Jones – West Virginia
One of the first things I did when I woke up this morning was check the Sports Agent Blog to see if Kevin Jones fired his agent Bill Neff (he didn’t). If you remember, Neff recently told reporters that Jones had a first-round promise from someone – obviously, it didn’t exist. He apparently didn’t have a second-round promise either. This is a very embarrassing situation for Neff, but I feel especially bad for Kevin Jones. He was expected to get taken at some point and was even in the crowd waiting for his name to be called. Tough break. He is a solid rebounder, tough as nails and, despite being undersized, slightly overweight, and not an elite athlete, is more than likely to receive multiple summer league invites.
2. Scott Machado – Iona
I think the biggest reason for why Machado didn’t get drafted is the system he played in at Iona. It was a fast paced, run-and-gun type system where he flourished and was able to show off his elite passing ability. The problem is that very few NBA teams run offenses similar to the one he played in in college. There are questions about how well he would fare in a more half-court oriented system that doesn’t maximize his strengths, and that is probably why he went undrafted. There are certainly teams that could use a third point guard, though, and with Machado’s high basketball IQ and ability to put his teammates in position to succeed, he is a worthy pickup.
3. Drew Gordon – New Mexico
Gordon is an excellent athlete who runs the floor very well for a big man. He is an elite rebounder who really goes after the ball instead of waiting for it to come to him, and that skill tends to translate well to the NBA. He has a high motor and was very good at using his athleticism to become a good rebounder and defender. He is also 6-9 and very strong. He had some issues at UCLA, but seemed to have solved them while at New Mexico.
4.Jamychal Green – Alabama
Green is a very talented inside-out player who played out of position this year at the five, as he is really a natural four who is very athletic and runs the floor very well. He has a good face-up game with a strong pull through move that gets him to the basket. Has range out to 18 feet and can be a good pick and pop player. He is also very physical down low, consistently going up strong with the ball. His team’s lack of outside shooting allowed opposing defenses to double him, so he didn’t get a real opportunity to show off his full skill set. He was suspended three times during his career and that probably explains why he went undrafted.
5. John Shurna – Northwestern
Shurna fits the stereotype of a great college player who people dismiss as being too slow or too unathletic to make it in the NBA. Despite being a very poor defender with bad lateral quickness, Shurna has other assets that make up for his liabilities defensively. He is one of those players whose unorthodox style turns off a lot of people, but he is an elite shooter who runs the floor well and has a great attitude. The perfect player for a team like the Spurs.
6. Henry Sims – Georgetown
I was very surprised that Sims didn’t get drafted. He is a big man in the mold of other Georgetown bigs in that he is an excellent passer from the high post with a very good basketball IQ. He really didn’t make a big impact until his senior season and despite being very polished, likely doesn’t have much upside. He will be able to step in and contribute right away for a team.
7. J’Covan Brown – Texas
Brown probably would have been drafted if he had showed up to the Combine in shape and without the highest body fat percentage. He is a very talented scorer who can create his own shot, although he is a bit undersized for the two-guard position. He does, however, have the ability to play the point on occasion. He really carried the load for a very young Texas team this past year and helped lead them to a surprising NCAA Tournament berth. He has had problems controlling his emotions during games and his attitude is questionable.
8. Renardo Sidney – Mississippi State
Austin Burton wrote a great story on Sidney yesterday, and the guy is definitely talented. For a man so big (he measured at 22 percent body fat), he has incredibly quick feet and is a very good ballhandler. He also has the ability to score facing up or with his back to the basket and has soft hands and a nice touch around the rim. However, his character concerns are enormous as he fought with teammates and had a bad attitude overall at Miss State. Additionally, his effort was rarely his best as he would pick up dumb fouls on defense rather than fight for position and didn’t seem to care much about the game at times. He definitely didn’t help alleviate any character concerns after blowing through two agents during the draft process.
9. Maalik Wayns – Villanova
Before the season, Wayns was pegged as a first round pick. But after a tumultuous season in which Villanova missed the NCAA Tournament, Wayns finds himself undrafted. I’ll give Wayns the benefit of the doubt here because the team he played with at Villanova was not ideal. Villanova didn’t have a consistent scorer on the roster outside of Wayns so he was forced to be a scoring point guard. Consequently, he took a lot of bad shots out of necessity. His shooting percentages were subsequently poor and his decision-making was questioned. If put in an environment where he is not forced to do it all, Wayns’ talents will come through.
10. Zack Rosen – Penn
I’m not sure that Rosen is one of the top 10 undrafted guys talent-wise, but I think he is one of the ten with the best chance of making a team. A lot of times when teams go after these guys they are looking for minimum salary players who will compete every day and be a good guy to have in the locker room. Rosen is certainly talented, but his hard work and relentlessness will land him on an NBA roster. Guys like Brian Scalabrine and Kevin Ollie have made careers out of being guys that teams want to have around. Rosen may never be a star, but no team will ever complain about having him on its roster.
Who do you think the best undrafted players are?
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