Going undrafted is far from a death knell for an NBA prospect’s hopes of joining the league. Last year, 17.4% of NBA players who appeared in a regular season game had never been drafted, as we noted earlier this week. The path of an undrafted player to an NBA roster is often easier than that of a second-round pick. Anyone passed over on draft night becomes a free agent, open to negotiate with all 30 teams, in stark contrast to a draftee, who can only sign with the team that selected his rights.
That helps explain why 14 players who were eligible for the 2014 draft but weren’t selected have agreed to terms with NBA teams this summer, while only 12 of this year’s second-round picks have done so. Of course, undrafted players rarely see any fully guaranteed seasons on their NBA deals, unlike second-rounders, who routinely command fully guaranteed salaries for at least their rookie seasons.
No team has come to terms with more players who went undrafted in spite of having been eligible for this year’s draft than the Kings, who’ve signed Sim Bhullar, Deonte Burton and Eric Moreland, perhaps compensating for their lack of a second-round pick. The Lakers have deals with a pair of undrafted players — Keith Appling and Roscoe Smith — even though they came away with the rights to No. 46 overall pick Jordan Clarkson on draft night and have yet to agree on a pact with him.
The players passed over for this year’s draft who have secured NBA deals anyway are listed below, followed by their NBA teams, and their predraft teams in parentheses.
- Keith Appling, Lakers (Michigan State)
- Jerrelle Benimon, Nuggets (Towson)
- Sim Bhullar, Kings (New Mexico State)
- Deonte Burton, Kings (Nevada)
- Justin Cobbs, Hornets (California)
- Bryce Cotton, Spurs (Providence)
- Aaron Craft, Warriors (Ohio State)
- Tim Frazier, Celtics (Penn State)
- Tyler Johnson, Heat (Fresno State)
- Alex Kirk, Cavaliers (New Mexico)
- Eric Moreland, Kings (Oregon State)
- Roscoe Smith, Lakers (UNLV)
- Shayne Whittington, Pacers (Western Michigan)
- Patric Young, Pelicans (Florida)