At any given time, about 20 percent of the guys on an NBA roster were players who were not drafted. They are guys that the NBA teams missed on, or who were just a little slower to develop but finally got to an NBA level.
There were some quality players who did not get picked on Thursday night in New York and may fit that bill.
Most of these guys will latch on with a team for Summer League and will try to use that showcase to earn themselves and invite to a training camp. From there they have the chance to prove they belong.
Here are the top five guys overlooked by teams and not picked in the 2015 NBA Draft who may belong in the NBA.
Cliff Alexander, 6’9” power forward (Kansas): This was a guy projected as a bubble first rounder who fell all the way out of the draft for some reason. In a league that is trending small, Alexander brings the kind of stout frame and athleticism that lets him play physically inside and still get out and run the floor and dunk. He knows how to crash the boards. What he lacks is a good jump shot or much polish on the offensive end — his straight-line game relies on his athleticism to get things done, but everyone in the NBA is athletic. If he can develop a steady jumper, his value will go way up, but he’s a bit of a project on both ends of the court.
Jonathan Holmes, 6’9” forward (Texas): He moved out on the perimeter more in his senior season in Texas, which showed mixed results but some promise. He found a way to score, often working off the ball, in Austin, but he’s got to show a more consistent shot to make an NBA rotation. Also, he’s going to have to prove he can defend at the NBA level. How much can a senior still grow, if he can he can become an NBA role player some day.
Christian Wood 6’11” power forward (UNLV): I hate to use the word upside, but let’s just say there is a lot of potential here. He has a versatile offensive game and right now is great in transition, or cutting/rolling in half court. He’s skilled, but he needs to develop a steady jump shot and three to become a huge threat in the NBA. He’s long with a lot of defensive potential as well.
Michael Frazier, 6’5” shooting guard (Florida): He could have been a second-round steal. He is as good a pure shooter as you will find in this draft (despite the 38 percent from three last season, due in part to an ankle injury; it was 46 percent the two years before) and he is a hard-working defender on the perimeter. He’s not a versatile, multi-position guy, but he can fill a role in the NBA.
Robert Upshaw, 7’0” center (Washington): The second round should be about taking gambles on players who have potential but are flawed. That is Upshaw — he has big time skills but has been dismissed from two college programs (last season Washington cut him loose mid-season). He moves well and was the nation’s leading shot blocker before Washington abruptly dismissed him last season. He has the tools to be a defensive and rebounding force. But he’s got a lot to prove physically and mentally. He has signed on to play Summer League for the Los Angeles Lakers.