The NBA Draft has come and gone, and the sheer depth of this year’s class left a great deal of talented prospects on the outside looking in. As is often typical in the second round, teams opted to draft international players who could be stashed overseas for a year or two and left talented and established college players by the wayside.
But that doesn’t mean that their status as undrafted free agents will work against them. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova went undrafted in 2014, and he was a key member of a Cleveland squad that put up a hell of a fight in the NBA Finals this past season.
Portland Trail Blazers 2-guard Wesley Matthews went undrafted out of Marquette in 2009, and he’s on the verge of earning a lucrative contract in free agency after averaging 14.3 points per game across six seasons.
That said, let’s look at five guys who were snubbed last night, but could find their way onto an NBA team this season and make some noise.
No. 5: Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas
A former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, Alexander was having an above-average season in his freshman year with the Jayhawks. Over 17.6 minutes per game, he was averaging 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting 57 percent from the field. Unfortunately, just as he was starting to find his stride in the rotation and earn more of a starting role, a loan Alexander’s mother took out drew the attention of the NCAA, and he was kept off the team so as to avoid eligibility issues. Sure enough, this also meant declaring for the draft prematurely.
But in spite of that, Alexander is still a strong interior player who, with the proper coaching, can become a reliable rebounder and shot blocker off the bench. He isn’t the biggest at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, but can still stand and bang with the best of them. His market may take a week or two to develop, but it’d be shocking to not see him participate in the NBA Summer League.
No. 4. Aaron Harrison, G, Kentucky
While his twin brother Andrew was selected by the Phoenix Suns, Aaron Harrison was not selected in last night’s draft despite playing well in two seasons for John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. I hate to say it, but it’s easy to see why he wasn’t picked.
On top of being a streaky scorer, having averaged 11 points per game on just 39.5 percent shooting his sophomore year, Harrison and his brother apparently came off as surly to some, and the NBA has changed to the point where negative attitudes simply aren’t tolerated anymore. Fortunately, Harrison is athletically built for a guard at 6-foot-6, 212 pounds and has a knack for coming through in the clutch. To see him not be signed to an NBA contract in the next few days would be shocking.
No. 3: Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
Blessed with fine size at 6-foot-11, 220 pounds, Wood yo-yoed up and down draft boards almost constantly throughout the month of June. First, he was a late first rounder, then a second round pick, then a first rounder again. Draft day came and went, and he was left unselected despite posting 15.7 points, 10 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per contest his sophomore year.
Maybe it was his only making 50 percent of his field goal attempts despite his size, or his spindly frame. Perhaps it was his clear preference to play face up and not with his back to the basket, despite his height. The long and short of it is that when the dust settles, Wood is going to have at least one NBA contract offer with an invitation to the Summer League. So long as he plays with a chip on his shoulder and doesn’t treat the competition like college, he’ll have every opportunity to earn a roster spot as a rotational player.
No. 2: Terran Petteway, G/F, Nebraska
Petteway proved to be a reliable wing in two seasons with the Huskers, averaging 18.2 points his sophomore season. However, it was a down year for Nebraska and one for Petteway, who shot just 40 percent from the field and 31 percent from downtown. Despite that, he declared for the draft and unsurprisingly was not selected.
But the fact remains that Petteway can still score when called upon and has good length for a wing defender. Regarding his low shooting percentages, that can be attributed to playing with a heavy heart as his mother was battling cancer, and died in April. He isn’t overly athletic, but has a lot of heart and could easily inject life into an NBA rotation as a bench shooter.
No. 1: Quinn Cook, G, Duke
Cook does not have much size at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, and his 15.3 points per game his senior season can be attributed to playing in Duke’s signature fast-paced offense. But there is one thing that Cook has plenty of that always tends to be overlooked in draft scouting: leadership and intangibles.
Simply put, Cook was able to rally a Duke team full of freshman studs towards a championship after the team had fallen short in the NCAA Tournament the previous three seasons, with two of those trips resulting in Round of 64 eliminations. He isn’t a strong athlete and probably won’t ever be a top scoring guard, but Cook is someone you want on your team to be a locker room voice while contributing three-point shooting off the bench. If he doesn’t get a contract as an undrafted free agent, then each and every NBA GM needs their head examined.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports