When an NBA prospect doesn’t hear his name called on draft night the year that he’s eligible to be selected, it’s hardly a death sentence for his chances of playing in the league. For many such players, it’s actually an advantage to go undrafted, since that allows them to negotiate with 30 NBA teams instead of just one. Few, if any, players who are passed over on draft night can say in the immediate aftermath that it’s likely that they’ll someday be in the Association, but it didn’t stop the 84 undrafted players who appeared in an NBA game last season.
I listed the undrafted rookies who’d secured deals within about two months after the draft this year, but many more signed after that, and several of the players on that August list failed to make it to opening night. It’s not uncommon to see several undrafted rookies dot training camp rosters around the league, but most of them don’t end up making it to opening night.
There were 13 undrafted rookies on opening-night rosters two years ago when I made a similar examination, and this year there are 11. The Pacers are the only team that has two such rookies. One of them, Shayne Whittington, is from this year’s draft class, while the other, Damjan Rudez, comes from overseas after going undrafted back in 2008, demonstrating both of the paths that this year’s undrafted first-year players have taken. Joe Ingles of the Jazz and Zoran Dragic of the Suns are the other rookies who hail from outside North America and who played international ball for years after the NBA passed them up on draft night. This season, they’ve finally come to the NBA.
Here’s the complete list of the undrafted rookies on opening-night rosters this year, along with their teams and the year in which they were eligible for the draft:
- Tarik Black, Rockets (2014)
- Andre Dawkins, Heat (2014)
- Zoran Dragic, Suns (2011)
- Alex Kirk, Cavaliers (2014)
- Joe Ingles, Jazz (2009)
- Eric Moreland, Kings (2014)
- Damjan Rudez, Pacers (2008)
- JaKarr Sampson, Sixers (2014)
- Travis Wear, Knicks (2014)
- Shayne Whittington, Pacers (2014)
- Patric Young, Pelicans (2014)