With the NBA Draft come and gone, many NBA hopefuls didn’t get to achieve their dream by hearing their name called on draft night. But this isn’t the end; this is only a new beginning. Many of these players will get a chance to prove that they are NBA players even if they weren’t one of the sixty men selected on Thursday. Some of these players have already been signed to contracts, and many more will get their opportunity shortly. Here are five undrafted players that are in the best position to make a roster and succeed in 2017.
1. Johnathan Motley: PF/C – Baylor to Dallas Mavericks
Johnathan Motley was a potential first round pick that went undrafted because of a knee injury. It was surprising that a team didn’t take a chance on him with a second round pick. Motley has stretch four and stretch five abilities. He isn’t a consistent three-point shooter yet, but he has shown potential with his jump shot. He’s a menace around the hoop on both ends of the floor. Motely scores the basketball near the hoop and has shot blocking abilities on the defensive end of the floor. Motley can sometimes play out of control, which leads to turnovers and fouls but if he improves his consistency, he could develop into an NBA starter. More likely, he’ll be an energy big off the bench. Motley is an elite athlete and has an elite motor, which should help him stick in the league for a long time. The Mavericks could use another big to complement their roster. He’ll end up outplaying many drafted players.
2. Devin Robinson: F – Florida to Washington Wizards
Devin Robinson was talented enough to be drafted in the second round. I thought he was a borderline first round prospect, but I like his talents more than most draftniks. Robinson is an athletic combo forward that should make the Wizards’ roster. He’s only obtained a summer league invite from the Wizards, but he should be able to show off his skill set. Robinson’s jump shot isn’t consistent, but it’s improving. He should become a solid three-point shooter in time. Robinson needs to add weight to his frame, but should be able to guard both forward positions and small-ball centers. This will make him extremely valuable to all teams. Robinson might not make the Wizards’ roster, but he should secure a roster spot on an NBA team. He might need to play in the G League (D League) during the early stages of his rookie season, but don’t be surprised if he’s playing NBA minutes in the near future.
3. Cameron Oliver: PF – Nevada to Houston Rockets
Cameron Oliver is an NBA player. Even if he doesn’t make the Rockets’ roster out of training camp, he’ll get a chance to play somewhere in the league. He dominated the competition at Nevada, but didn’t prove that he can play against elite level talent. He’ll get that opportunity shortly. Oliver is an undersized power forward, but that’s not an issue in today’s small-ball NBA. He has stretch four abilities and is polished enough to post up smaller defenders. He can protect the rim with his athleticism and shot blocking abilities, but he won’t make his money in the NBA as a defender. The Rockets want to sign expensive free agents, so they’ll need a few cheap players on the back end of their roster. Oliver is cheap and has a lot of upside, which will make him enticing for the Rockets. He’ll have a good chance of sticking on this roster and contributing at some point as a rookie.
4. Chris Boucher: PF/C – Oregon to Golden State Warriors
Chris Boucher got signed by the best team in the NBA. The Warriors might be the best team in NBA history. Although this doesn’t seem like an ideal location for an undrafted free agent, Boucher will likely get his opportunity to play for the Warriors once he’s healthy again. He possess the rare combination of shot blocking abilities and long range shooting. This is a hot commodity in today’s NBA. He might have to start the season in the G League (D League), but will have a chance to play his way onto the roster. The Warriors need cheaper players on the back end of the roster so they can afford their superstars. Boucher has a chance of becoming one of those valuable and cheap players.
5. Nigel Hayes: F – Wisconsin to New York Knicks
Nigel Hayes was one of the most well-known players in this draft class. He struggled during the beginning of this season, which may have contributed to him being an undrafted free agent. Hayes spent the beginning of the year trying to prove to teams that he’s a future NBA player, which backfired because he was playing out of his element. When Hayes stopped trying to do too much, he was much more successful. Hayes is a talented basketball player and will outperform many drafted players, but he’s older than many players in this class. There’s a negative stigma around the league about older NBA prospects because they have less room for development. Hayes struggled with consistency and his jump shot this season, but has an NBA body and skill set. He has legit three-point range and can post up smaller players. Hayes can defend both forward positions and smaller centers, which will give him a chance of sticking in the league. The Knicks need a lot of help throughout their roster, so adding an experienced player of Hayes’ caliber should help them right away. Hayes will get a chance to play as a rookie.
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