In every NBA Draft there are always a couple of players that escape teams’ radars and fall tremendously throughout the draft. Here are a list of notable active NBA players to go undrafted and have an integral role on a team: Jose Calderon, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Matthews, and Udonis Haslem.
Active players to fall to the second round: Marc Gasol (NBA All-Star, NBA DPOY), Rashard Lewis (2x NBA All-Star), Monta Ellis, Carlos Boozer (2x NBA All-Star), and Manu Ginobili (2x NBA All-Star, 3x NBA Champion, NBA Sixth Man of the Year).
While it’s certainly impossible to guess the type of impact these undrafted and second round players would have in the NBA, it’s crazy to think that these players fell so far. In this underrated players guide, I will breakdown many players that could go undrafted or fall tremendously. I also will compare them to an active NBA player in the league.
Russ Smith, PG, 6’0″ 165 lbs., Senior, Louisville
Smith has flourished in Rick Pitino’s up-tempo offense and is known for being a defensive menace. He is definitely undersized and will need to gain some muscle, but he is a high-risk, high reward type player. At Louisville, Smith is posting averages of 18 points, five assists, and three rebounds a game. This is the first year that Smith has been able to play point guard consistently and it looks like it is paying off. Smith is not afraid to attack the rim and is able to get to the free throw line consistently throughout a game. Smith could spring into a backup point guard role in the NBA, a big hole in most teams’ rosters. Smith has potential, but don’t expect him to impact any team immediately.
- Draft Projection: Early to Mid Second Round
- Pro-Comparison High Ceiling: Kemba Walker
- Pro Comparison Low Ceiling: D.J. Augustin
Isaiah Austin, PF/C, 7’1″ 220 lbs., Sophomore, Baylor
Austin has all of the physical capabilities to be a great power forward or center at the next level. However, Austin play’s like a small forward and doesn’t use his size to his advantage. Austin regularly settles for mid-range and three point shots, has trouble finishing layups with his left hand, and is very inconsistent. Austin is currently averaging 10 points, five rebounds, and two blocks per game (ranked 26th in the nation). Austin is currently projected a second round pick, but don’t be surprised if he get’s picked in the latter half of the first round because of his ability to stretch defenses.
- Draft Projection: Late First Round to Early Second Round
- Pro-Comparison High Ceiling: Channing Frye
- Pro-Comparison Low Ceiling: Josh McRoberts
Spencer Dinwiddie, SG, 6’6″ 200 lbs., Junior, Colorado
Just recently, Dinwiddie tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. Dinwiddie never really had first round potential from the start, but he could develop into a great role player in the NBA. On both sides of the ball, Dinwiddie is able to make plays and use his height to his advantage. In 2012, Dinwiddie lead the PAC-12 in free throw attempts, averaged 15 points, three rebounds, and three assists per game. Washington Huskies head coach, Lorenzo Romar, praised Dinwiddie for his versatility on both ends:
“He has that rare ability to control a game,” Romar said. “He’s big enough on the defensive end to rebound and get deflections and create havoc. Offensively, he can take it to the block, he can penetrate, he can hit the jumper. That’s an NBA player as far as I’m concerned.”
- Draft Projection: Late Second Round to Undrafted
- Pro-Comparison High Ceiling: Tony Allen
- Pro-Comparison Low Ceiling: Thabo Sefolosha
Sam Dekker, SF, 6’8″ 220 lbs., Sophomore, Wisconsin
As a freshman, Dekker averaged nine points and three rebounds in 22 minutes per game. This year, Dekker has improved his averages to 13 points and six rebounds per game, while utilizing his height for rebounds. Dekker moves without the ball, sets screens, almost never takes plays off, and hits the three when his team needs one. Dekker has struggled playing the stretch-four position and has to be taken out of the game at times when there is a taller player matched up against him. However, Dekker is a perfect mid-first round prospect that could develop into a healthy third-option on any NBA team.
- Draft Projection: Late Lottery to Late First Round
- Pro-Comparison High Ceiling: Chandler Parsons
- Pro-Comparison Low Ceiling: Martell Webster
Doug McDermott, SF/PF, 6’8″ 225 lbs., Senior, Creighton
Doug who? That’s right, Doug McDermott, the nation’s second leading scorer hasn’t received any recognition by anyone. As a senior, McDermott is averaging 25 points, seven rebounds, and two assists per game, while leading 12th ranked Creighton to an 18-3 record. McDermott’s has one of the purest shooting strokes in the nation, currently shooting 43% from three, and is able to score in transition. McDermott isn’t a lock for the lottery because of his lack of athleticism and his poor defensive skills. While McDermott’s offense certainly makes up for his poor defense, many teams will pass on him. McDermott will never be a star in the NBA, but he has enough upside to make him a lethal role player.
- Draft Projection: Late Lottery to Late First Round
- Pro-Comparison High Ceiling: A mix of Mike Dunleavy and Shane Battier (Offensively)
- Pro-Comparison Low Ceiling: Steve Novak
Jordan Clarkson, SG/PG, 6’5″ 193 lbs., Junior, Missouri
Jordan Clarkson is often overshadowed by Jabari Brown, who is the leading scorer for Missouri (20 PPG) and first option on offense. However, there is a big reason why Clarkson is on this list and Brown is not. At 6’5″, Clarkson has strong dribbling skills, great finishing skills, and is able to create shots for himself. Clarkson is currently averaging 19 points, three rebounds, and three assists per game and is shooting 48% from the field. Clarkson is currently running point guard for Missouri, but his scoring production and low assist production translates to more of a hybrid two guard at the next level. Moving forward, Clarkson is an intriguing prospect that brings a lot to the table with his versatility.
- Draft Projection: Early Second Round to Mid Second Round
- Pro-Comparison High Ceiling: Lance Stephenson
- Pro-Comparison Low Ceiling: Shaun Livingston