Predicting Landing Spots for Best Remaining Free Agents Post NBA Draft
The 2014 NBA draft class is mind-bogglingly deep. As in, bottom-of-the-Mariana-Trench deep.
Not only was the first round of the June 26 proceedings filled with quality players from top to bottom, but the second half of the night was brimming with rotation members and potential starters. Not only was the second round a great place to find talent, but the crop of undrafted free agents is just ridiculously strong.
Every year there are notable undrafted players; this summer, there are more than a few who project as future rotation members. Some may turn into even more than that, despite being spurned time and time again over the course of the 60 picks announced by commissioner Adam Silver and NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that "undrafted" is the equivalent of "worthless" in the NBA. Teams take fliers on draft-and-stash candidates and high-upside young guns during the second round, often leaving the veteran talents to be picked up as free agents.
Wesley Matthews, John Starks, Bruce Bowen, Ben Wallace, Udonis Haslem, Jeremy Lin, Jose Calderon, Avery Johnson and many others have gone on to enjoy fruitful careers after they were originally spurned.
Will anyone from this year's class follow in their footsteps?
School: Arizona State
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 11.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, 4.0 blocks
There are a few things that NBA teams just can't stay away from.
Size and rim-protecting skills are two of them, and Jordan Bachynski has an abundance of both. Though the Arizona State center is already 24 years old, which limits his long-term upside, he's capable of contributing right away when thrust into the right role. After all, he's already 7'2" and coming off a season in which he paced all of college basketball in blocks per game.
Bachynski isn't much of a rebounder, and scoring will be a struggle for him when he's not right next to the basket, but he runs the floor well, establishing defensive positioning and preparing to block yet another shot long before he can be posted up deep in the paint.
There's value in that, and it's value that will certainly find a home, even if it didn't during the 60 picks on draft night.
Projected Landing Spot: Miami Heat
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 24.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.0 blocks
Billy Baron—who spent his college career bouncing from Virginia to Rhode Island to Canisius, where he spent the final two years of his eligibility—is already getting plenty of attention from NBA teams. He may not have been drafted, he's not a household name by any stretch of the imagination and he played for the relatively unknown Golden Griffins, but that's not hindering him.
"Canisius guard Billy Baron went undrafted, but glut of teams want to sign him for summer league and camp, league sources tell Yahoo," tweeted Adrian Wojnarowski in the immediate aftermath of the 2014 NBA draft.
He was a dominant three-point shooter during his college days, but now he's out to prove that he's a well-rounded scorer, one who can run the show at the point and still thrive as a playmaker.
"I got to show these teams I can do more than one thing. I can do more than score the ball or the way I score. I'm not just a three-point shooter," claimed Baron while talking to Jon Scott of Time Warner Cable News. "I can get to the hoop. And it's important to do that against that level of athletes."
He'll get a chance to prove it during Summer League play, as he's far too talented on offense to get overlooked during the free-agency process.
Projected Landing Spot: Chicago Bulls
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 3.8 blocks
Khem Birch left UNLV early, and it was a shocker that he was still available after Cory Jefferson became the latest iteration of Mr. Irrelevant.
Though the 21-year-old big man's stock has dropped rather dramatically since he first signed with Pittsburgh fresh out of high school, eventually transferring across the country due to internal clashes throughout his freshman year, he's still capable of making an impact in the NBA. Maybe not right away but surely once he becomes less of an offensive liability.
Right now, Birch has two incredibly marketable skills.
He's one of the best shot-blockers in college basketball, knocking aside 4.8 attempts per 40 minutes, leading the Mountain West in blocks per contest and finishing second in the nation behind Bachynski, per Sports-Reference.com.
On top of that, he's a dominant rebounder who shows great instincts on both types of glass. Particularly on the offensive end, it's incredibly difficult to keep Birch from reeling in a shot that failed to find the mark once it bounces off the rim.
Projected Landing Spot: Miami Heat
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 19.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks
Sadly for Jabari Brown, it was Jabari Parker's basketball skill and upside that got him drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 2 overall, not his first name.
But fortunately for the 21-year-old shooting guard fresh out of Missouri, he has some skills of his own.
As Daniel O'Brien explains for Bleacher Report while calling Brown the No. 2 undrafted free agent available, it's all about offense:
He shot 39 percent from three-land in college, including 41 percent as a junior despite a heavy workload. Brown can come off screens, spot up or create his own perimeter jumpers.
In addition to drilling triples and manufacturing step-back two-pointers, Brown can do some slashing and score near the basket when he gets the chance.
Don't expect Brown to get passed over by every team out there. After all, plenty of the Association's 30 squads could use some backcourt bolstering, particularly at shooting guard, where there's less established talent than every other position.
Projected Landing Spot: Golden State Warriors
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 20.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks
Electrifying. Dynamic. Explosive.
All those adjectives only begin to capture the nature of this Nevada floor general's game. Deonte Burton spent his senior season torching opposing defenders by blowing by them, breaking their ankles and doing everything necessary to create space en route to yet another 20-point game.
On top of that, he's a quality defender, thanks primarily to his physicality and promising instincts on the less glamorous end of the court.
So why wasn't he drafted?
His 6'1" frame has a lot to do with that, as does his advanced age, lack of developmental progress and questionable shot from the perimeter. For all the scoring Burton did at Nevada, he was never able to develop into a consistent marksman.
Nonetheless, this much athleticism and explosiveness packaged into a body with point guard skills on both ends will surely end up playing in the NBA at some point down the road.
Projected Landing Spot: Indiana Pacers
School: Arizona State
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 18.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks
Even though Jahii Carson averaged 18.5 points as a freshman and followed that up by posting 18.6 per contest during his sophomore season at Arizona State, he wasn't able to land in the second round.
It's even stranger when you remember that Carson, despite his 5'11" stature, has insane bounce and one of the quickest first steps of any player eligible for this draft. He routinely blew by defenders en route to the basket, where he showed off some precocious finishing skills on a regular basis.
Defense and size work against Carson, but he's developing a consistent jumper to make himself into an even more well-rounded scorer, and that should be enough for him to function as a backcourt spark off the bench. Not every team can be satisfied with the scoring production it gets from the pine, after all.
Apparently Carson should've gone pro after his first season with the Sun Devils. But he has to live with his decision to leave Phoenix behind now, and landing on a Summer League roster should do wonders for the coping process.
Projected Landing Spot: Washington Wizards
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks
C.J. Fair is unquestionably a tweener, as his 6'8" frame and undefined role leave him bouncing between the small forward and power forward positions. But there's some benefit to being a positionally versatile player, especially after going undrafted.
Now teams in need of a high-potential 3 can look at him, and the same is true for organizations coveting a 4.
Though he struggled with his shot throughout his senior year, Fair has the ability to thrive from beyond the arc. He has a good motion and solid instincts when spotting up on the perimeter, and he proved as a junior that he's capable of drilling over 40 percent of his looks, so long as he isn't falling in love with his jumper too often.
But shooting isn't the only notable skill.
The Syracuse product projects as a quality off-ball threat, as he can balance the tough nature on the perimeter with athletic and intelligent cutting skills. He's quite adept at slashing to the rim and finishing the play either with a slam or in creative fashion.
Transitioning from Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone to an NBA-style defense will take work, but Fair is a long-term project worth investing in.
Projected Landing Spot: Brooklyn Nets
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 20.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals
Experience should help Sean Kilpatrick.
Even though his age and four-year collegiate career for Cincinnati both work against him, he's become a known commodity. The 2-guard scored 20.6 points per game during his final season with the Bearcats, and he did so primarily by using his veteran savvy.
Kilpatrick has developed into an intelligent scorer who takes advantage of mismatches, finds holes in the defense and capitalizes on his geometric proclivities, often taking the most advantageous angles with his drives and cuts.
On top of that, he's careful with the ball. Kilpatrick averaged just 2.1 turnovers per game during his final stint with Cincy, and that was actually the highest mark of his career.
Projected Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs
James Michael McAdoo
School: North Carolina
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks
It's been a precipitous fall for James Michael McAdoo.
After his freshman season at North Carolina, his untapped potential would've made him a likely lottery pick, and he almost certainly wouldn't have fallen past the 20s. But after declaring for the draft following his junior year with the Tar Heels, McAdoo went undrafted, scaring off teams with his definitive lack of improvement.
However, the power forward is still only 21 years old, and there's still so much unrealized potential.
He's an incredibly explosive athlete who consistently records hustle stats and puts himself on the ground whenever necessary, floor burns be damned. He's also got every physical tool necessary to be a standout defender at the next level, even if his offensive game has developed rather slowly.
McAdoo will not be an immediate contributor in the NBA, but it's worth locking him up now in order to gain access to him once he starts coming into his own.
Projected Landing Spot: Utah Jazz
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 11.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.1 blocks
Patric Young has always been one of the most intriguing prospects to me, simply because he's a valuable commodity despite having no truly marketable skills. He's a quality defender, but he's by no means elite in either man-to-man situations or when blocking shots from the weak side.
He's like the Chandler Parsons of defense—good at everything, great at nothing. And I suppose it helps that both went to Florida.
Young is still a remarkable athlete with a chiseled body that should serve as the prototype for all undersized big men, but what he does with it is still up in the air. He's drawn comparisons to Ben Wallace, interestingly enough an undrafted free agent from the 1996 class, but he's not the individual defender that Big Ben was, nor does he compare favorably on the boards.
Regardless, Young should get a look. Big bodies are always a commodity in the NBA, and he has the potential to develop into an impact player, even if his 22 years on the planet would indicate otherwise.
Projected Landing Spot: Los Angeles Clippers