That is just the tip of the iceberg of undrafted players making a difference on NBA rosters. Some big-name players didn’t hear their name called at the 2022 NBA Draft — Shareef O’Neal out of LSU, Shaq’s son, for one (he will play in Summer League for the Lakers).
Here are five names you may not know but are worth watching both at Summer League and over the coming couple of years. Players who could make a difference for their teams down the line.
• Dom Barlow, 6’9″ power forward/center, Overtime Elite. He signed a two-way contract with the San Antonio Spurs almost immediately after the draft.
Barlow was the best player in the OTE class this year, he has NBA size, length (7-3 wingspan) and athleticism. He can switch on defense and hold his own, and he showed some skill as a ball handler and shooter this past season. That said, Barlow is still raw and is a development project — the NBA Draft Combine scrimmages showed he has a ways to go to catch up to the speed of decision-making and reactions that have to happen. But he has all the raw tools. The Spurs are the perfect organization to bring him along.
• Julian Champagnie, 6’8″ forward, St. John’s. He signed a two-way contract with the 76ers soon after the draft ended.
The brother of Justin Champagnie from the Raptors, the hope is the younger Champagnie brother can be a 3&D player at either forward spot. He was asked to do everything for the Red Storm offense last season and, in a positive sign, showed the ability to hit tough shots in college. If he can develop as a catch-and-shoot guy and prove he can defend better athletes at the next level, he could become a rotation forward in the NBA.
• Justin Lewis, 6’7″ forward, Marquette. He quickly signed a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls after the draft.
He has the physical tools and athleticism that everyone hopes to find in a wing — 7-2 wingspan, physical and tough, can jump out of the building, can switch on defense and hit a jumper. He’s a force when playing downhill. Lewis was inconsistent and didn’t play with a high enough motor at Marquette to keep everyone happy, and there are concerns about his lateral quickness on defense. But he competes. Lewis could be a solid wing rotation player in a few years.
• Jean Montero, 6’2″ guard, Overtime Elite. He has signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Knicks, meaning he will play for them at Summer League, be invited to training camp, and get a bonus to join their G-League team (unless he plays his way onto the big club).
A pass-first point guard with impressive handles and quickness, he was a top-20 projection in this class back in early 2020, but his development seems to have stalled out. He’s considered undersized but without the athleticism to counter that, leading to concerns about his defense and ability to finish inside. The hope is that if his jumper can be developed, he could be a backup point guard.
• Dereon Seabron, 6’5″ shooting guard, North Carolina State. He signed a two-way contract with the New Orleans Pelicans almost immediately after the draft.
He’s quick and has a natural skill for getting downhill and into the paint against a defense (where he doesn’t shy away from contact and is a decent passer). That quickness and desire to get to the rim makes him fantastic in transition. However, if he’s going to stick in the NBA he must become a much better shooter (25.4% from 3 last season). His defense also is going to have to improve. He’s a project, but it’s hard to teach quickness and the ability to get downhill, so not a bad roll of the dice by the Pelicans.