On June 22, NBA teams will draft the next crop of prospects that they hope will one day be a part of a championship winning team. Sixty names will be called. Many others will not.
The nature of the draft is that teams often times pick players based on future potential, not what they can provide in the present. DraftExpress currently has 17 freshman getting drafted in the first round, and seven sophomores also getting taken in the first 30 picks.
For many mid-major prospects, they’re more likely to hear their name called in the second round. Teams might be more willing to take a prospect with a proven track record in college that might not have as much upside as a younger player, but can potentially fill a role immediately.
But even then, the chances of getting their name called is still slim. When you throw in all of the one-and-done prospects, bigger names from Power 5 schools, and international players, there’s just not enough picks to go around. It’s a numbers game, and mid-major prospects will get the short end of the stick.
The thing is, going undrafted is not the end of a prospect’s NBA aspirations. It can even be a blessing.
Take Ron Baker for example. Baker was a star on some Wichita State teams that were among the best in the country. Many considered him to be a great college player, but he still went undrafted. However, Baker took the path that many other prospects will be forced to take.
Rather than play overseas, Baker joined the Summer League team for the New York Knicks. He played well enough that he ultimately earned a contract and a roster spot on their opening night roster. He spent part of the season on the Knicks’ D-League team, but ultimately carved out a decent role off the bench by the end of the season.
Speaking of undrafted guys that went on to play for the Knicks, how could we not bring up Jeremy Lin? He went undrafted out of Harvard, and barely played for the Warriors before landing on the Knicks with a 10-day contract in 2011. He absolutely BALLED OUT (Linsanity anyone?!), and is now making $12 million per year with the Nets.
Basically what I’m saying is that going undrafted is not the end of the world for your favorite players. They’ll likely get a summer league invite, and some might even play for multiple teams. Some might end up in the D-League, hopeful to get their chance during the season.
Think of it like life. Everybody takes a different path to get where they are going in life, but it doesn’t matter how they did as long as they get there in the end.
For the NBA, every player is trying to make it to the league, but not everyone will make it straight there. If a player goes undrafted and has to take a long, unusual path to the NBA, that is completely okay. The only thing that will matter is that they made it.