Former NBA Draft Picks on the Verge of Missing Opening Day Rosters
The worst part about the NBA draft? The players who don’t pan out. In a league with only 450 roster spots, there isn’t enough room for everybody.
The NBA draft is one of the most exciting days of the basketball year because it offers fans and teams alike a new collection of players ready to make their impact on the league. Of course, not everyone makes it in the NBA, and even some of the higher draft selections someday find themselves without a team to play for.
Here I offer you five players, who were all drafted in 2010 or before, who find themselves in that undesirable position. Many of them are seen as busts or failures, and each one of them could find themselves cut during training camp.
Let’s take a look at five former draftees who could be cut before the start of the 2012-13 season.
Terrence Williams, Detroit Pistons
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I have no idea why Terrence Williams struggled to find a team to sign with in the offseason. He was sharp off the bench for Sacramento last year, averaging 8.8 points on 46.1 percent shooting. He’s a strong defender, a willing passer and an all-round capable player.
He seems like the type of player every team should like to have on their bench, yet the best he could do was a non-guaranteed contract in Detroit, which means he’ll be fighting for a final roster spot.
Williams was the 11th overall selection by the New Jersey Nets in 2009, ahead of guys like Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Darren Collison. He spent two years with the Nets before being traded to Houston. The Rockets cut him last March before he signed in Sacramento.
Lucky for him, the Pistons need a backup bench wing. Tayshaun Prince, Corey Maggette and Rodney Stuckey will all command big minutes, but I think Williams is a better player than the rest of Detroit’s bench (Austin Daye and rookie Kim English).
I don’t know why Williams wasn’t in higher demand, but I expect him to make the Pistons' final roster and make a positive impact next season.
Daniel Orton, Oklahoma City Thunder
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Orton was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the No. 29 selection in the 2010 draft, and now two years later he’ll be fighting for a roster spot. The Magic hoped he’d become a solid backup to Dwight Howard, but it hasn’t clicked yet for the 7’ big man from Kentucky.
Last season for the Magic, he played in 16 contests, averaging 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.8 minutes a game. Orlando needed backup big-man help that Orton failed to provide. Not surprisingly, the Magic did not pick up their option on Orton this offseason.
Now Orton finds himself in Oklahoma City for training camp with the Thunder. He has an non-guaranteed contract, and he’ll be going up against 2009 second overall selection Hasheem Thabeet, who the Thunder also picked up this offseason. In a battle between two disappointing big men, give the edge to the 7’2" Thabeet.
Adam Morrison, Portland Trail Blazers
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It’s been six seasons since the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Adam Morrison with the third overall selection in 2006, and in that time Morrison won two championships. Those rings, of course, were with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Morrison rarely saw playing time.
The Gonzaga superstar now heads north to Portland where he hopes to snag a roster spot. He played for the Los Angeles Clippers in the summer league, averaging 20 points a contest on 55 percent shooting. He didn’t do much else and even for summer league his defense was pretty poor.
Will Morrison make the final roster? He shouldn’t, but he very well might. Portland could use another wing off the bench, and he might help draw some of the Spokane natives to the Trail Blazers games.
Either way, Portland's training camp offer doesn't come with any sort of contract, so they could cut him with no problems.
Dexter Pittman, Miami Heat
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The former Texas big man has acquired himself a cult following since he was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft. In two years, the biggest impact Pittman has had in the league is his elbow into Lance Stephenson’s throat (see this piece for that incident).
He appeared in 35 contests last season, averaging three points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.6 minutes a contest. The Heat need some more muscle off their bench, but Pittman has been there for two seasons and never managed to prove his talents.
I expect this will be the last shot Miami is willing to give him before they cut him loose. He has a guaranteed contract for the season, but according to Kurt Helin of probasketballtalk.com, the Heat may not be very high on Pittman anymore.
Jonny Flynn, Detroit Pistons
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The highest selection on this list, Flynn was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 6 selection in the 2009 draft, ahead of players that include Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings.
He now finds himself with an invite to the Detroit Pistons' training camp on a non-guaranteed contract, according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
Flynn had a decent rookie season, averaging 13.5 points and 4.4 assists a contest, which was good enough to be named to the All-Rookie Second Team.
By his sophomore season, however, things had begun to go downhill fast. He was beaten out of playing time by both Luke Ridnour and Sebastian Telfair and with Ricky Rubio hopefully coming over to the NBA soon, it was clear Flynn had no future with the organization.
Flynn was traded to Houston during the 2011 NBA draft in exchange for Brad Miller and two 2011 draft selections. In Houston, he saw even less playing time and appeared in just 11 contests before being traded to Portland.
It’s been a rocky road for the former Syracuse star, and this may be his last shot at the NBA. Detroit has a surefire starting point in Brandon Knight and only Will Bynum to back him up. Rodney Stuckey can play point guard, but the Pistons still could use another bench guard.
Can Flynn return to his rookie-season form?