Undrafted NBA Free Agents 2012: Best Athletes Still Available
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The 2012 NBA Draft was filled with plenty of high flyers and elite athletes. From big men like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who run the floor extremely well and attack the basket, to guards like Damian Lillard and Dion Waiters, who can control the tempo of a game and speed up opponents, this year's class was very high on athleticism.
Even some of the players who did not hear their names called Thursday night are incredibly gifted athletes and that ability ultimately will be what gets them a shot to play in the NBA. They may not be the most talented or skilled players available, but they can outrun, out-jump and simply overwhelm their opponents with their rare athletic abilities.
Without further ado, let's take a look at a few undrafted free agents who happen to be uncommon athletes...
Tu Holloway, PG/SG (Xavier)
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17.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 42.9 FG%, 34.6 3P%
Expected to be a late-second round selection, Xavier graduate Tu Holloway had a solid final season for the Musketeers, but failed to catch on with an NBA team.
Though he is an above average jump shooter who has solid three-point range, what really stands out about Holloway is his athletic ability.
He is extremely explosive off the dribble and has a quick first step that allows him to blow by his opponents. He has the body control to absorb contact and he can finish consistently around the basket.
Holloway excels in a faster pace and showed that he could push the ball and create scoring opportunities in transition. He can get up and down the court quickly and has a strong handle, even when he is trying to speed up the game's tempo.
Defensively he has excellent lateral quickness and is extremely active when guarding his man. He can cover his man on the perimeter, but is also a good on-ball defender. He can read passing lanes and knock balls loose, but is also able to stay with his man as he moves around the court.
Plenty of teams in the NBA could use an athletic point guard with experience, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Holloway catch on with a team this summer.
Casper Ware, PG (Long Beach State)
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17.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 40.1 FG%, 35.6 3P%
At just 5'10" Casper Ware's size undoubtedly caused him to slide on some NBA teams' big boards, but the Long Beach State product was easily one of the most explosive guards available in this year's draft.
He is a decent shooter who can both pull up and fire off the dribble, with a very quick trigger that allows him to get his shot off over anyone. But it is his ability to attack with the ball in his hands and ability to push the pace that makes him such a tremendous athlete.
Despite his slight frame, Ware is a nightmare in the open court and excels at taking his man off the dribble, although he can sometimes struggle to finish at the rim. His speed allows him to push the tempo of a game and he is excellent at keeping his head up in transition and making the right plays.
Defensively, his speed allows him to bother opposing point guards full court and he can be an absolute pest guarding the ball. He is extremely relentless and does a great job of staying with his man. Though his size will obviously be an issue Ware does a nice job of moving through screens and has the lateral quickness to cover ground well on the court.
Ware may be one of the smallest players in the 2012 draft class, but his world-class athletic ability makes up for it.
As I said about Holloway, there are a lot of NBA teams looking for quick point guards and Casper Ware should be fielding plenty of preseason camp offers.
JaMychal Green, SF/PF (Alabama)
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14.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.5 BPG, 54.6 FG%
Primarily playing power forward in college with the Crimson Tide, JaMychal Green used his athletic ability and strength to make up for being slightly undersized.
He is a legitimate post-up threat, and has a solid midrange jump shot. Green also excelled at skying above opposing forwards for dunks and rebounds, as well as controlling the boards.
Green averaged 2.4 offensive rebounds per game last year, using his leaping ability to grab contested boards and creating easy scoring opportunities for his team. He can run the floor well and finish with authority at the rim, but is also capable of creating points in the halfcourt.
He was one of Alabama's main offensive options last season and constantly had heavy attention paid to him. He was still able to use his quickness and strength to score against opposing defenses.
On the defensive end of the court he is surprisingly agile and can move his feet well in order to stay with his man and keep him from getting good position. He is also a very effective help defender, rotating over and helping out beaten teammates.
An NBA team looking for players with size that can also play in transition would be wise to give Green a shot.
Mitchell Watt, PF (Buffalo)
16.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.2 BPG, 55.4 FG%, 32.4 3P%
A small time college player who was ignored by NBA scouts for much of his career, Mitchell Watt garnered some overdue national buzz in his final season at Buffalo. What stood out from the 6'9" big man's game was his athleticism and versatile scoring ability.
Watt has a smooth shooting stroke that is uncommon among players his size, allowing him to draw opposing forwards away from the basket to create lanes for his teammates. He has several moves in the post that can get an opponent off balance and creating an easier shot.
The thing that stands out most about Watt is his mobility on the court. He runs the floor extremely hard and carves himself out great position around the basket. He is great at rolling to the basket and elevating over opponents to finish at the hoop.
In today's NBA, the best big men are the ones who can score in transition and move around the court like much smaller players. Watt is very quick relative to other players at his position and that manifests itself on both ends of the court.
He is a talented shot blocker because he can anchor the paint and rotate over to help out his teammates. He can recover if he gets beat by his man and his ability to make multiple efforts is what makes him an intriguing professional prospect.
Though he hasn't exactly played against elite talent, Mitchell Watt has the physical tools and athletic ability to make a successful transition to the NBA.