A total of 81 players made their debuts in the NBA this past season, according to Basketball-Reference, many of whom weren't picked in last June's draft. A handful of those undrafted players made notable impacts in their rookie seasons this year. Let's take a look at the top undrafted players to debut in 2011/12:
- Just making the Hawks this season was a victory for Ivan Johnson, who long ago fell off even the most ardent fan's radar screen after a single unimpressive season at the University of Oregon in 2005/06. His willingness to do the dirty work inside earned him the opportunity, and his 13 points in 21 minutes during a nationally televised three-overtime game against the Heat was his breakthrough performance. The 6'8", 230-pound big man fortified a depleted Hawks front line, as he averaged 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game this season.
- It's only fitting that Johnson is going up against Greg Stiemsma's Celtics in the first round, since Stiemsma had a similar impact this year. He played 19.0 MPG in March and April as the Celtics stormed back from a dismal first half, and shot 66.7% in the season's final month. He was a presence inside for a team that needed one, and blocked 4.0 shots per 36 minutes.
- Donald Sloan started out with the Hawks, inked a pair of 10-day contracts with the Hornets, and finally wound up with the Cavs, signing a deal in March for the rest of the season. Cleveland gave him the chance to play, and he made it count, averaging 9.4 PPG and 5.4 APG in 33.2 MPG in 11 starts as a Cav.
- The Grizzlies felt comfortable enough with Jeremy Pargo, who made the team in training camp, that they traded backup point guard Greivis Vasquez to the Hornets right before the season, leaving his job to the undrafted rookie out of Gonzaga. Though he saw his role diminish as O.J. Mayo and midseason signee Gilbert Arenas took over the minutes behind Mike Conley, he still averaged nearly 10 MPG (9.6) and made five starts.
- Perhaps overshadowed by other talented teammates at Duke, Lance Thomas didn't get a call on draft night after his senior season in 2010. It took him an extra year, but he made it to the NBA with the Hornets this season. His numbers weren't overwhelming, but he still started 10 games and averaged 15.0 minutes in 42 games this season.