Undrafted players vie for a roster spot.
The odds may be stacked against them, but as final cuts hover over NBA locker rooms this week, several undrafted players continue to compete for roster spots.
In past seasons, it has been common for teams to use most of the space of the 15 allotted roster spots, but with economic pressures weighing down heavier than ever on teams and ownership principles, most will sit closer to 13, creating about 50-60 fewer jobs on the hardwood.
Despite decreased roster spots and safer management decisions, there always seems to be a player or two who defies the odds and creates a career only they foresaw happening.
Ben Wallace went undrafted, won four Defensive Player of the Year Awards, and is a potential candidate for the Hall of Fame. Brad Miller became one of the game’s best passing big men, played in two All-Star games, and is making over $12 million this season after drawing a blank at Madison Square Garden after his career at Purdue. Jamario Moon and Udonis Haslem have become consistent role players and starters in the NBA and will team up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade this season regardless of the lack of respect they drew out of college. It may be as infrequent as Adam Morrison’s minutes, but it happens.
Last year it was Bobby Brown of the Sacramento Kings/Minnesota Timberwolves. Now with the Hornets, Brown is challenging for backup minutes behind Chris Paul and averaging 23.6 mpg to go along with 12 points. This season, SLAMonline has compiled a list of five potential undrafted players who could do the same.
Wes Matthews | Utah Jazz
The former Marquette University shooting guard is getting some big minutes in preseason due to Utah’s injuries and lack of depth at the wing spots. The son of Wesley, Sr., a former NBA guard, Matthews has started in three preseason matchups averaging 21 minutes and 8.2 points-per-game including a 16-point outing against Chicago.
Marcus Landry | New York Knicks
Even with limited minutes during preseason, the former Wisconsin Badger has drawn rave revues from Mike D’Antoni and has the pedigree to land a spot somewhere in the League. His style is similar to that of his older brother, Carl of the Houston Rockets, where hard-nosed energy and rebounding take priority. Every team needs a guy to do the dirty work, and Landry could be that guy for the right team.
Dionte Christmas | Philadelphia Sixers
Christmas set all kinds of records for his three-point shooting and scoring while playing for Temple in the Atlantic-10, and the Philly native would love to represent his hometown. Trouble is the Sixers have a pretty full roster, but if the guard can find a niche with his shooting ala Jason Kapono, someone will find a way to bring him on board.
Carlos Powell | Phoenix Suns
Powell has impressed in Phoenix averaging 6.8 ppg and 2.3 rpg while occasionally getting the starting nod this preseason. After his career at South Carolina, Powell traveled the globe on various teams before dominating the NBDL with the Dakota Wizards. A forward heavy Suns team may not be the ultimate destination, but Powell is drawing attention.
Jawad Williams | Cleveland Cavaliers
Williams is an exception to this list having already played in NBA games as both a Clipper and Cav, but both were short-lived scenarios and he has yet to play a full, or anything close to a full, NBA season. Part of the famous 2005 North Carolina team, Williams watched five teammates (Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, David Noel) get drafted while his name went uncalled. Since then, Williams has been invited to preseason camps and D-League rosters, hoping to stick in the NBA once and for all. He currently is averaging 7.2 points in 19 minutes, and at 6’9” has the length to potentially make an impact on a roster this season.