Top Undrafted Players from 2017 NBA Draft
NBA players slip through the draft’s cracks every year.
Last season, Yogi Ferrell, Ron Baker, David Nwaba, Marshall Plumlee, Wayne Selden Jr. and Fred VanVleet saw NBA minutes after not being picked.
They each caught a break along the way and then capitalized on the chance. Fit and opportunity play a significant role for undrafted free agents.
Expect to see the following 10 players in summer league, where they’ll be in position to make an impression and earn an invite to training camp.
Each has the potential to settle in as a role-playing specialist.
10. Chris Boucher (Oregon, C, Senior)
It wasn’t a surprise that Chris Boucher went undrafted. He’s already 24 years old and is still rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in March.
But at full strength, Boucher is intriguing regardless of his age.
With center size for today’s NBA and a massive 7’4″ wingspan, he blocks shots and makes threes at unusually high rates. Over the past two seasons, he made 75 triples and blocked 189 shots in 69 games.
He’s shown enough bounce around the rim to be an easy-basket target. Boucher is at least worth tracking for his rare mix of defensive tools and shooting. He’ll join the Golden State Warriors on a two-way contract, per The Vertical’s Shams Charania.
9. Deonte Burton (Iowa State, SF/C, Senior)
Deonte Burton may not have had a chance 10 years ago, but today’s NBA is different. Standing just under 6’5″ in shoes, he could be a unique play at the 3, 4 or 5 positions.
Burton has a giant 6’11 ½” wingspan and massive 266-pound frame that can hold its own inside.
He hit 42 threes as a senior after making 26 combined through three years in college. His improved shooting will give him a better shot to make a team.
Burton has enough strength and potentially dangerous quickness and athleticism for bigs. He’s worth experimenting with up front in summer league, where he’ll suit up for the Minnesota Timberwolves, per Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer.
8. VJ Beachem (Notre Dame, SG, Senior)
VJ Beachem failed to get picked after his three-point percentage dipped his senior year. Given how limited he is everywhere else, it damaged his stock.
But Beachem still made 2.4 triples per game and shot 83.6 percent from the line. There shouldn’t be many questions about his jumper, and at 6’8″, he has extra size and the bounce to rise and fire over defenders.
He’ll have an opportunity to stick as a shot-making specialist. Beachem has smooth catch-and-shoot mechanics and can pull up off a dribble or two inside the arc.
Proving he can hold his own defensively could be the key to his NBA chances. He’ll play with the Minnesota Timberwolves in summer league, per NBA.com’s David Aldridge.
7. Isaiah Hicks (North Carolina, PF, Senior)
nconsistency was Isaiah Hicks’ biggest issue at North Carolina. But he was still effective playing his simple role as a finisher, rebounder and occasional post scorer.
Hicks should have enough bounce and length to continue making plays inside. Having shot at least 75 percent from the free-throw line in back-to-back seasons, he’s flashed potential as a mid-range shooter.
He’s even shown impressive quickness in terms of being able to switch and hold his own guarding the perimeter.
There isn’t anything flashy about Hicks’ game, but with the right fit in an energizer role, he could bring value in the form of activity in the paint and defense. He’ll join the Los Angeles Clippers after going undrafted, per NBA.com’s David Aldridge.
6. Luke Kornet (Vanderbilt, C, Senior)
Luke Kornet offers a rare mix of shooting (1.5 threes per game) and shot-blocking (2.0 per game), which is why the New York Knicks were quick to sign him to a two-way contract, per ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Kornet stretches the floor and protects the rim. Though not an explosive athlete, he’s nimble enough for his size.
He has a clear role and identity. Kornet just needs to be able to play to his strengths as a three-point specialist capable of defending inside.
5. Devin Robinson (Florida, SF/PF, Junior)
The idea of Devin Robinson is more appealing than the inconsistent one we saw at Florida for three years. But there is still time for him to become the player scouts hoped he’d already be.
Robinson possesses enough size to play the 4 with the mobility of a small forward. He has the potential to guard three positions and stretch the floor as a shooter, having shot 39.1 percent from deep his junior year.
Limited shot-creating ability and a small sample size of three-point makes have raised skepticism, particularly since it’s been three seasons since he arrived at Florida. But if he can prove to be reliable enough outside while adding defensive value with versatility, three-and-D could help him find his way to an NBA roster.
He’ll play for the Washington Wizards in summer league, per CSNmidatlantic.com’s J. Michael.
4. PJ Dozier (South Carolina, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Had PJ Dozier returned to school to smooth out a few rough spots in his game, the 2018 first round may have been reachable.
Instead, he’ll try to make the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster as an undrafted free agent, per ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
He played a key role in South Carolina’s trip to the Final Four. A former McDonald’s All-American, Dozier stands 6’6″ with smooth athleticism and the handles to create. He’s a scorer and slasher but still averaged 3.9 assists per 40 minutes last season.
His 60 steals through 36 games also highlight defensive playmaking ability.
Shooting is Dozier’s big flaw. He shot below 30 percent from three and 60 percent from the free-throw line both seasons at South Carolina. But at 20 years old, between his tools and versatility, it’s worth finding out if he can fix his jumper.
3. Cameron Oliver (Nevada, PF, Sophomore)
Cameron Oliver struggled at the NBA combine, and it may have cost him a spot in the second round.
The Houston Rockets noticed and immediately signed him to a multiyear deal, per The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Oliver was the only player in 25 years to hit at least 60 three-pointers and block 90 shots in a season. He’s an explosive leaper, and his ability to make plays around the rim and stretch the floor could be enough for him to stick, granted he does both with enough efficiency.
2. LJ Peak (Georgetown, SG, Junior)
LJ Peak didn’t receive an invite to the combine and subsequently went undrafted, but he created buzz his junior year with versatility at both ends.
He projects as a 2-guard but showed impressive facilitating instincts and the ability to make plays for teammates off the dribble (3.5 assists per game). Peak capitalized on what the defense gave him as a scorer by driving through lanes and finishing at the rim.
His potential to guard multiple positions with strength, length and quickness could add to his value.
Peak doesn’t have one core strength to lean on, a big reason why teams deemed him undraftable. But he’ll have a chance to catch on as a jack of all trades if he receives the right opportunity.
Peak will play for the Houston Rockets in summer league, per Fox 24’s Mark Berman.
1. Johnathan Motley (Baylor, PF/C, Junior)
Johnathan Motley jumps off the undrafted list after once being thought of as a potential first-rounder.
He did undergo knee surgery in April, and it’s possible flags appeared during medicals. But Motley was one of the more consistent players in the country, and at 238 pounds with 7’4″ length, his NBA tools and athleticism are evident.
The fact that he doesn’t have any offensive specialty skill may have turned teams off. Motley will try to find his way by scoring in the paint, both as a finishing target and post player, and rebounding, which he did extremely well in 2016-17 (12.9 per 40 minutes).
All measurements courtesy of NBA.com.