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The 2023 Undrafted Free Agent Roll Call
The NBA Draft has come and gone, but that's not the end of the road! Maxwell breaks down the undrafted free agent class, where they are headed, and how they can make it in the league.
The NBA Draft has come and gone. For 58 players, it was the culmination of a life-long dream. They heard their name called on draft night. Many of them got to walk across the stage in New York City and shake the hand of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. When draft night ends, the dream doesn’t end for the players who didn’t hear their names called. Many of them will still go on to sign contracts with NBA teams. Today, we’ll be giving the spotlight to those guys— the undrafted free agent draft class of 2023. I’ll be breaking down where they are headed, what they bring to the table, and what they will need to improve to make their games work at the NBA level.
This is one of my favorite columns of the year to write. I’m a sucker for underdog stories, and tales of undrafted success are some of my favorites to follow. The margins matter— just look at the roster that took the Miami Heat to an NBA Finals. When I first began to follow the NBA Draft with greater intensity, it was easy to find stuff on the big names prospects. But the further down a draft board I would go, the would be less information about the players there would be. I’ve always made it my goal to write the type of things I would have wanted to read, and this is one of those columns.
I also want to give a MASSIVE thank you to the people who make this column a reasonable undertaking. Namely, Jon Chepkevich of DraftExpress and Rookie Scale. Without his Undrafted Free Agent Tracker, this information would be far more cumbersome to compile. All contract information and player heights come from his site. I’d also like to give a big tip of the hat to our good friends at Synergy Sports and Sports-Reference. All statistical information comes from those two sites.
This was submitted for publication at around 2:00 PM/CT on 6/26/2023, so apologies for anyone that I missed in the time between now and whenever you read this!
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Two Way Contract:
-Miles Norris, 6’10”, UC-Santa Barbara
Miles Norris was a sneaky pick-up. He was not in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, G League Elite Camp, or the NBA Combine, and I omitted him from my Top 100 in part because it seemed like league-wide interest must have been lower as a result. That immediately feels like a mistake. Norris moves like a wing defensively, having posted 1.1 SPG and 0.8 BPG this past season. He’s a little thin, sure, but he’s got fantastic size for someone who can play the forward spots. His 1.2 APG to 1.1 TOV isn’t a needle mover, but he can sling the ball with real zip on it. Over the past three seasons, he’s shot 37.7% from three on 3.7/game. This was a great use of a two-way— a modern player with size who could provide excellent value if the shot translates.
Jarkel Joiner ranked 98th on my final board. He’s older at 24-years-old, but he’s a true microwave scorer who feels unstoppable when he gets going. His pull-up shooting is his signature skill, hitting 34.8% of his pull-up threes and 43.8% of his pull-up twos. With a thin frame, his finishing can leave a lot to be desired, but he’s so quick that he gets inside a lot. He could carve out a bench role if he can stay above board on defense. David Singleton is a pure specialist bet. At 24.6, he’s an older prospect, so he’ll have a shorter timeline to make it work. He hit 43.4% from three over five college seasons. While he doesn’t bring much else to the table, he has a thick, strong body, and improved defensively this past season.
Summer League Deal:
-Vincent Valerio-Bodon, 6’9.5”, KC Sopron
Vincent Valerio-Bodon ranked 89th on my final big board. He’s a true shooter with size, knocking down 41.2% of his threes this past season in Hungary’s NBIA. He also posted 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG alongside a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. The NBIA isn’t the strongest league in the world (they don’t have a wikipedia page, for example), and he only scored 8.2 PPG, so it’s hard to get a read based on the film as to how much firepower really exists here given his more complimentary role. If his skills translate, though, this is absolutely the type of prospect a playoff team should be taking a look at— a shooter who knows how to play off the ball, makes quick decisions, and can guard a few positions.
-Leaky Black, 6’7”, UNC
Leaky Black ranked 79th on my final board. He’s a defensive specialist with loads of big game experience. He’s been one of the best defenders in college basketball over the past few years. Whenever a player had a good game against him, I would make a point of adding that to my notes— it was that significant of an indicator for me. Black played at the guard spot in high school, which is evident in his 2.2 to 1.1 career assist-to-turnover ratio. He can make the right pass and put it on the floor. The big question mark is his jumper, as he only made 29.6% of his threes over five college seasons. On a positive note, that number increased to 32.8% over the past two seasons, and we heard encouraging reports on his shot and ball skills from other prospects who worked out against him during the pre-draft process. He’ll need the jumper to stick, but if he does, that’s a great find.
Angelo Allegri is also older at 24-years-old, but he still ranked 91st on my final board and he warrants serious two-way consideration. A massive guard, Allegri led the offense for a good Eastern Washington squad. He’s a true dribble-pass-shoot jumbo guard and has converted 37.3% of his threes on high volume over the past two seasons. I’m more bullish on him than many other older prospects because he’s so well-rounded and is coming in with a pro body. If he can add more defensive playmaking, it’s hard to imagine him staying off a two-way deal at some point during the season. Nathan Mensah was the defensive anchor for San Diego State’s finals run in the NCAA Tournament. He’s a low-maintenance finisher who showed a bit more of a face-up game at the Portsmouth Invitational. Only having scored 6.0 PPG this past season, there are fair questions to be asked about how much he brings offensively, and he’s already 25-years-old.
-Adama Sanogo, 6’8”, UConn
Adama Sanogo was one of my highest-ranked undrafted players, finishing at 47th on my final board. He was a crucial part of UConn’s national championship run. Sanogo can pass the ball and knocked down 36.5% of his threes while taking over one per game. When defenses sags, he’ll shoot, and while it’s a set shot, it looks great. His touch is stellar. He’s also a 76.6% free throw shooter, and he made an absurd 73.7% of his non-dunk shot attempts at the basket in the half court. There’s real reason to believe he can run handoffs, finish inside, and hit the occasional triple. On defense, he’s super difficult to move because of how strong he is, and as a former soccer player, he’s lighter on his feet than one would anticipate. The big issue here is his lack of positional size and leaping ability. If something prevents him from sticking, it will probably be that. But I love him as a long-term rotation bet, especially as an undrafted guy on a two-way.
-Craig Porter Jr., 6’2”, Wichita State
-Pete Nance, 6’10.75”, UNC
Craig Porter Jr. ranked 67th on my final board and was a draftable prospect in my book. He’s late bloomer and a true stat sheet stuffer. He averaged 13.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 4.9 APG after a quiet first few years at the D-1 level. Porter sees the floor, can shoot it, and uses his high-wire athleticism to finish at the rim. He has a much better chance to stick than most smaller guards because of his ridiculous defensive output. Porter’s 1.5 SPG and 1.5 BPG are the stuff of legend and part of why other evaluators had him in the top half of the second round. He started at the JuCo level and didn’t really pop until this past season. If he can continue to improve and he’s simply on a later developmental trajectory than most, he could be a big steal.
Pete Nance ranked 88th on my final board. He’s a 4/5 who sees the floor well, has a polished mid-range scoring package, and can hold his own in space. His Portsmouth performance was pretty mundane, and he didn’t show much improvement or anything new in his final UNC season, which likely hurt his stock. Still, players with size, intelligence, and a good jump shot (37.8% from three over the past three years) cannot be written off.
Wendell Green Jr. is an electric guard who can fill it up and get his teammates involved. His lack of size and inefficiency (36.4/29.5/84.2 shooting splits this past season) kept him out of most draft conversations. Green will need to find a way to make an impact defensively and get his jumper going to grab a more significant contract. Mike Bothwell is older as a graduate prospect, but he was a hyper-efficient rim pressure guy and scorer for Furman this past year. He made 61.7% of his twos and 62.7% of his shots at the rim last year. In the past, he’d posted solid defensive metrics, but those slid a bit this past year, and his jumper has always been more decent than truly reliable. Consistent table setting and defensive intensity are the two things that could catapult him into a more formal NBA contract.
-Mike Miles Jr., 6’1.5”, TCU
-Jordan “Jelly” Walker, 5’10.5”, UAB
Mike Miles Jr. was the 63rd ranked prospect on my final board and was in the draftable tier. He’s like a snowball rolling downhill when he attacks the basket, using his quickness and power to gain momentum before finishing with touch. His 65.8% at the basket in the half court is more along the lines of what you’d expect from a 6’8”, high-flying forward than an undersized guard. Miles’ 36.2% from three is understated by his tough shot diet and true shot-making ability, with flashes of NBA range off the bounce. He’s a tough and determined defender. Ultimately, he underwhelmed at the NBA Combine, and his lack of size (with a negative wingspan) hurt him when it came to containing opponents at the event. His pass placement can leave a lot to be desired, but his assist numbers were held back by playing on one of the worst shooting teams in college hoops. He’ll really need to shoot and play his tail off on defense in order to stick in a league that has become tougher for smaller guards.
The same can be said for Jordan “Jelly” Walker, who narrowly missed my Top 100. Walker shot 37.8% from three last season, but he took 10.8/game and rarely got open looks as the clear focal point of UAB’s offense. He made 52.3% of his unguarded spot-up threes this past year, per Synergy. Walker also showed more playmaking chops, handling aggressive blitzes well and posting a career-best assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.2-to-2.8. Few men on earth can score like him, he just has to overcome his size questions and find a way to hang on D.
-Armaan Franklin, 6’4”, Virginia
Summer League Deal:
-Andrew Funk, 6’5”, Penn State
Armaan Franklin barely missed my Top 100, but I love the fit for Denver. He’s a strong, small wing who made 38.4% of his catch-and-shoot threes and 57.1% of his shots at the rim in the half court. It’s easy to imagine him fitting in offensively there if his shot sticks, but it’s been inconsistent over the years. He’s a potent defender who contains the ball, knows where to rotate, and helps at the rim better than most his size.
Andrew Funk is a pure shooting roll of the dice. He hit 41.2% of his threes on high volume this past season. He doesn’t offer much else, but he’s not a shrimp, and it click in the right environment.
-Tosan Evbuomwan, 6’8” Princeton
Tosan Evbuomwan is an absolute bargain on an Exhibit-10. I had him 59th on my final board and considered him a firmly draftable prospect. He’s a jumbo playmaker with exceptional passing feel who averaged 4.9 APG and led Princeton to upset wins over Arizona and Missouri in the NCAA Tournament. He looked so at home from a movement and physicality standpoint against those high-major squads. He’s big, powerful, and smart. His career 2.0 STL% and 1.7 BLK% are both solid marks, but a little less potent considering the competition in the Ivy League. He only shot 32.4% from three on a tad over one per game. The shot needs to come along, but Evbuomwan didn’t start playing until he was older, and he missed a college season when the Ivy League suspended play during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the jumper does get there, he’s the type of fast-processing, big-bodied forward who could hang in the playoffs.
Golden State Warriors
Javan Johnson ranked 95th on my final board. He’s got long arms and is a great shot-blocker for a wing with a career 3.0 BLK%. Johnson loves to contest and swat shots in the mid-range when guarding the ball. He also hit 41.2% of his threes on high volume this year while also showing off a mid-range scoring bag and some creative passing chops. He’s not great the rim, but there’s the framework of a 3-and-D, dribble-pass-shoot wing here. Kendric Davis is a small guard who can score like few others, averaging 21.9 PPG this past season. He’s a sharp live dribble passer, an impressive skill for someone who didn’t play until high school. Davis received rave reviews for his work ethic and attitude in interviews with teams. He’ll need to continue to blend his playmaking for other with his shot-making and find a way to stick as a small guard in a big, unforgiving league.
Yuri Collins faces a similar predicament, but he’s far and away a more pass-first player. He averaged 10.1 APG to 3.6 TOV, getting into the paint time and time again before rewarding his open teammates. A 32.9% career three-point shooter on low volume, he desperately needs to be less tentative and more effective from distance. Gabe Kalschuer had a strange career, hitting 37.1% of his threes as a freshman and sophomore before a two-year cold streak (23.9% from three). As a graduate, he got his shot going again (35.4% on 6.2/game). During his “off years,” he still stayed on the court due to his powerful frame and defensive tenacity. If the shot can stick, he has a chance. Adam Kunkel scored 16.5 PPG during a breakout sophomore year at Belmont. He transferred up to Xavier, and it wasn’t until his graduate year that he truly found his form again. He hit 42.5% of his threes last season, with many coming off movement. There’s a chance for him to grab a specialist role.
Summer League Deal:
-Matthew Mayer, 6’9.5”, Illinois
A few years ago, Matthew Mayer was discussed as a potential first-round pick following Baylor’s national title win. He was big, hit 39.5% of his threes, and guarded the ball well. He stayed in college for his senior year, and his efficiency dropped while he struggled to grow in other areas. As a graduate for Illinois, Mayer re-found his footing a little bit. He only hit 33% of his threes, but he took 6 per game, and he became better as a shot blocker. The connective tissue has never really been there, and if it’s not a jumper or straight-line drive, his decision making can be frustrating. His off-ball defense has never matched what he does on the ball, and he’s prone to getting caught napping. Still, Mayer is a fiery competitor with NBA size who can finish at the basket. If he tightens up his defense and decision making, and can get the shot to fall, he can carve out a role. He ultimately ranked 97th on my final board despite those concerns and the fact that he’ll turn 24 soon. If he does put it together, his skill set is immensely valuable.
-Oscar Tshiebwe, 6’8.75”, Kentucky
Oscar Tshiebwe is a hyper-productive scorer and rebounder. He’s a former National Player of the Year who averaged 16.9 PPG and 14.4 RPG over the past two seasons. He ranked 93rd on my final board, though, as teams were able to successfully hunt him on the defensive end. He struggles mightily in ball screen coverages. His communication is lacking, with guards often getting leveled by the pick, and his lack of leaping ability diminishes his attempts to turn opponents away at the rim. Perhaps I’m selling him short, though, as he still produced big counting numbers at the NBA Combine. I’m lower on him because it’s hard for me to envision him in a playoff series at any point, but his raw production should buy him some time to figure things out.
Nate Laszewski is a big shooter (38.2% from three over five college seasons) who isn’t a bad mover and makes smart decisions. There’s a little bit of Dean Wade to him. He still needs to find a true position defensively and offer more rim protection. Darius McGhee averaged 23.7 PPG on 44.8/39.2/87.4 splits over the past two seasons. Despite his lack of size, he’s better inside the arc than one might expect, and he’s not shy at all when it comes to pulling the trigger off the bounce. He’ll play ball screens in different ways to keep defenses guessing. The size question will always be there for him, sadly, but he’s such a potent offensive force that he still could provide positive outcomes.
Los Angeles Clippers
-Xavier Casteñada, 6’1”, Akron
Xavier Casteñada set the nets on fire in Akron this year, scoring 21.7 PPG while hitting 39% of his 9.1 threes per game. He grew more confident as a long-range shooter every season. He’ll routinely punish teams as a pull-up shooter whenever he’s given an inch of space. The big concern here is that Casteñada never displayed much juice as a defender or playmaker for others. His 18.6 AST% is very low for a point guard prospect, and in the MAC, he didn’t often face guard with true NBA size.
Los Angeles Lakers
Colin Castleton was the highest-ranked undrafted free agent on my board, finishing at 44th overall. He simply fits the bill for an NBA back-up big man. He’s a great passer (19.5 AST%), held opponents to 35.9% at the rim, blocked three shots per game, finishes effectively, and makes his free throws. While he may look a tad robotic, he does cover ground well and wasn’t a guy who got cooked when he had to guard in space. He’s smart, protects the rim, moves the ball, and does all the dirty work you want a big man to do. Castleton possesses a fiery demeanor and loves to compete. It feels like he’s going to maximize whatever he has inside him. Teams may have gotten too cute by passing on him in favor of upside that is unlikely to ever develop. There’s a chance that Castleton could earn real minutes as a rookie.
D’Moi Hodge ranked 62nd on my board. At 24.5-years-old, he was unlikely to get drafted. Still, there’s a path for him to carve out an NBA role as a 3-and-D mini-wing. He made an electric 40% of his threes while launching them off movement from NBA distance. He’s a menace in passing lanes (2.6 SPG) and provides way more weakside rim protection than anyone his size should rightfully be able to supply. Hodge runs and jumps like an NBA player, and he shoots like one too. His arms aren’t that long, and he doesn’t offer much as a playmaker off the dribble. He moves the ball just fine and utilizes some clever passing angles, but Missouri rarely ran offense through him because of those limitations. If he can offer something when chased off the line, he’ll be cooking.
Damion Baugh is a blur. He’s fast and he’s a steady passer, averaging 5.8 APG to 2.8 TOV. He’ll pressure the rim, but that could become harder if teams don’t respect him from deep. He’s a career 29.5% three-point shooter, and teams don’t challenge him much beyond the arc. Given the rest of his game, though, he’ll have a place in the league if that gets up to speed. Alex Fudge is currently a defense-only prospect heading into an NBA that is in the midst of an offensive explosion. He’s long, and he’s a fantastic athlete in terms of movement, sprinting, and leaping. His 3.4 STL% and 5.5 BLK% as a freshman at LSU generated him a lot of buzz headed into his sophomore year, but he didn’t produce at the same clip, and he didn’t add much offensively. Fudge scored 5.8 PPG on 39.7/22.9/58.9 splits last year. He doesn’t offer much as a ball handler or passer. He’s super young (just turned 20), so he’ll have ample time to put it together, but he feels more like a “second draft” prospect, where if he does stick, it’s going to take a while.
-Timmy Allen, 6’5.5”, Texas
Timmy Allen is sort of a pure talent bet, even though it’s hard to imagine his playstyle translating to the NBA. Let’s start with the positives: Allen can really defend, and he’s going to be able to cover a few positions in the NBA. He’s a smart passer and has tremendous polish as a mid-range scorer. Allen dices into the lane, and his outstanding touch makes him a perpetual threat to score in that area of the floor. He leverages that gravity to hit open teammates, leading to him averaging 3.5 APG at Texas this past season. The problem is that Allen can’t make threes yet. He doesn’t even bother taking them. In five college seasons, he averaged 24.8% from deep while taking less than one a game. He’s so intelligent and crafty that betting against him still feels a little wrong, but few players under 6’6” that are so poor as outside shooters manage to carve out roles.
Summer League Deal:
-Justin Powell, 6’6”, Washington State
-Patrick Gardner, 6’11.75”, Marist
-Chase Audige, 6’4”, Northwestern
-Trenton Massner, 6’3”, Western Illinois
-Taylor Funk, 6’8”, Utah State
-Ja’Von Franklin, 6’7”, Georgia Tech
When you have the developmental track record of the Miami Heat, you get your pick of the litter when it comes to undrafted free agents. Agents line up hoping that their player can be the next in a long line of overlooked, undrafted Heat success stories.
Drew Peterson ranked 90th on my final board. He’s big, he hit 38.4% of his threes over the past three seasons, and he has a high-level of, “knows what he’s doing out there.” His feel indicators (6.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG) are positive, enabling him to impact the game despite a lack of strength and quickness. If he shoots it at the NBA level, his size and mistake-free play should enable him to hang around the league. Caleb Daniels caught me off guard a bit as an Exhibit-10 guy compared to those who only got Summer League deals from the Heat. At 24, he’s coming off a down shooting year where he only made 33.2% of his threes on a clunky Villanova team. Still, Daniels is tough, strong, and can manage the game from the guard spot.
Justin Powell (69th on my final board) is my favorite of the group. He’s an outstanding shooter (41.9% from three over three high-major college seasons) and stellar decision maker. His shooting is dynamic, and he can hit off screens or off the dribble. At 6’6”, his 2.8-to-0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is a fantastic mark. While he’s a subpar athlete by NBA standards, Powell’s intellect enabled him to hold opposing pick-and-roll ball handlers to 0.491 points per possession last year. He knows the scouting report and uses that to his advantage. He’ll still need to grow athletically, as he shot only 37.9% inside the arc and doesn’t provide much rim pressure. Patrick Gardner (83rd on my board) is a late-bloomer who just completed his first D-1 season as a graduate at Marist. There, he averaged 19.1 PPG on 49.7/38.3/67.7 shooting splits. He’s light on his feet and can really shoot it, which has major appeal at his size. Defensively, he has to clean up his technique, as he’s probably best utilized as a 4 given his lack of bulk and vertical explosiveness. Chase Audige was 99th on my final board. He’s got that Shaq Harrison/Kris Dunn defensive edge to him. He averaged 2.4 SPG and 0.6 BPG, and he made offensive life a nightmare for opposing guards in the Big Ten. His body is NBA ready, and he’s not going to be behind the curve athletically. Audige has always struggled to put the ball in the basket efficiently, though, with career splits of 38.9/32.5/83.2 He can be a tad turnover prone when sped up, too. But if he can simply not be ignored on offense, there’s a place for him. I’m a big Trenton Massner fan, having covered him during my No Stone Unturned series. I consistently advocated for him to earn a Portsmouth Invitational invite in my Prospect Overview columns. It didn’t happen, but that didn’t stop him. Massner looks like an unassuming boy scout, but he’s actually super athletic and can put people on a poster. Western Illinois has historically struggled as a basketball program, particularly when we’re talking about real life and not a video game being played by Ricky O’Donnell. Strong outings against high-major opponents like Iowa, Nebraska, and DePaul give reason to believe that Massner’s all-around stat stuffing isn’t just a result of him playing low major programs. He’s a big time scorer with NBA range, solid passer, and defensive playmaker. Taylor Funk is another Heat Type— a big dude that shoots. He hit 37% of his threes on high volume as a 6’8” guy, which always warrants a look. He knows how to pass, and his defensive understanding is rock solid. He’s almost 25, though, so the clock is ticking. Ja’Von Franklin is basically an undersized big. At 6’7”, he doesn’t take many jumpers (only 13 threes over 4 college seasons), but he’s powerful, can protect the rim, and switch onto smaller players. He’s a sharp passer, though, which is a critical skill for those types of players. He won’t have much margin for error, but he could be a quirky role player if everything scales up well.
-Drew Timme, 6’10”, Gonzaga
Summer League Deal:
-Vin Baker II, 6’9”, Milwaukee
Jazian Gortman is a great stealth signing, slotting 57th on my final board. At 6’2” with a +7 wingspan, he’s got good size for a “small guard.” His offensive footwork is intriguing, and he’s full of wiggle and burst. He’s raw, but the framework is encouraging. He had 45.3/32.9/80.8 shooting splits in OTE, but his shot diet was tough, particularly from distance. If the shot comes around, and there’s reason to believe it will given the indicators and his age, the Bucks may have found a future rotation player here. He needs to find a better balance between his scoring and playmaking for others. Gortman uses his length well to poke the ball loose and make plays in passing lanes. A highly-touted high school prospect heading into OTE, he has some similarities to JD Davison, who made significant strides as a shooter and decision maker in the G League this past season.
Omari Moore is a mid-major name I’ve been a little lower on. I had him 77th on my final board. He had a big game against Arkansas this year, scoring 21 points and tallying 4 assists. Moore plays with loads of pace, sees the floor well, and has a good pull up game. He’s great at operating with his man on his hip and controlling tempo. His passing feel is tremendous for a player his size and he knows what he’s doing defensively. My hangup with Moore is that he does little off the ball and is a poor shooter off the catch (27.7% on catch-and-shoot threes last season). He’ll need to figure out that element of his game.
Drew Timme had a stellar college career at Gonzaga but ranked 92nd on my final board due to his lack of shooting range and defensive shortcomings. He’s skilled beyond belief in the post with loads of creativity as a passer, and he plays with a contagious fire. His technique on the block allows him to beat bigger, more athletic players on consistent basis. Similar to Moore, he’ll need to transition to a complimentary role on offense, but he also needs to find someone he can guard on defense. He doesn’t protect the rim, struggles in ball screen coverages, and doesn’t have the footspeed to contain wings or guards.
Vin Baker II didn’t see the floor much at Milwaukee. Generally, you don’t see a lot of guys with his production at the low-major major stick around in the NBA, but he’ll have an opportunity to generate some buzz at Summer League.
Kris Bankston largely flew under the radar, but he turned heads at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. A two-time All-Defensive Team selection in the MEAC, Bankston is a truly great athlete for his size. He’s fast, covers ground well, and can soar for blocks and dunks. Bankston’s never shown much shooting range or juice as a passer, which will need to change, but he’s a fun flier and I could see him being productive in the G League pretty quickly. Brendan Adams was pretty quiet for four seasons at UConn and George Washington before he took a massive shooting leap as a senior. After four seasons as a 27% three-point shooter on under three attempts per game, he hit 37.9% of them on 6.1/game this year. He’s still not much of a defender, but if he can round that into form, he could be a nice find.
New Orleans Pelicans
Nolley was a draftable prospect who slotted 54th on my final board. The sales pitch is simple: he’s got size (6’11” wingspan), he can shoot the lights out (41.7% from three on 6.4/game last year), and he’s a clever passer (career 16.6 AST%). Nolley’s tricky, too. He has a devastating pump fake and a gorgeous one-dribble pull up to go with it. His passing really pops on tape, with nearly everything being looked off and difficult to telegraph. He shoots, moves the ball quickly, and he’s got NBA size. Those guys are valuable in the playoffs! He has some work to do defensively and he struggled mightily at the rim (43.2% in the half court). That needs to improve, but given his pull-up and passing ability, the finishing may not be a total career killer at the NBA level. Robbins finished 73rd on my board, but I wouldn’t have batted an eye if a team drafted him. He’s a rim protector (14.4 BLK%) on defense and floor spacer on offense (36.5% from three). Robbins had a monstrous run during SEC play, earning himself an all-conference nod while averaging 18.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.5 BPG. Injuries have plagued him over the years, and if not for that, he likely would’ve gone much higher. But he could fit two needs for the Pelicans given his shot blocking and defense. Jones was the 86th ranked player on my board. He gets buckets. Jones scored 17.8 PPG this season and dropped 36 during a PIT game. He’s an NBA scorer who can do it at all three levels, but the rest of his game is pretty incomplete. Despite his length, he’s not much of a defender, and he hasn’t shown much as a playmaker for others.
New York Knicks
-De’Vion Harmon, 6’1.75”, Texas Tech
Summer League Deal:
-Race Thompson, 6’7.75”, Indiana
Jaylen Martin ranked 68th on my final board. He’s a project, but one worth investing in on a two-way. He’s a good athlete with a surprisingly advanced footwork bag to get inside and finish at the rim. On defense, he uses his physical tools and ability to read the floor to make plays. His 1.6 SPG and 0.7 BPG in OTE this past season are positive indicators for what he could become on that end. Martin just needs the jumper to go. He shot 26.7% from three during the regular season and 31.7% in the playoffs. Most players that do make sizeable shooting leaps in college make them from their freshman to sophomore year, so the timing here is right. The Knicks could end up with a great “buy low” move here on a guy who has just about everything else.
Jacob Toppin was 85th on my last board. He’s really skinny and will need to bulk up for NBA physicality, and he’s a tentative shooter. He made 30.5% of his threes and only took 1.8/game. The rest of his game is intriguing, though. He’s an electric dunker, he’s fast for his size, he contains smaller players well defensively, and his feel is much better than it gets credit for. There were times where he ran the offense for Kentucky when Cason Wallace was out injured. He’s another, “jumper away” prospect.
De’Vion Harmon is in that boat, too. He’s a tenacious driver who gets to the rim and finishes well there. He brings nastiness to the point of attack on defense. A career 33.6% three-point shooter with an iffy pull up game, he needs to develop as a shooter to gain the respect of NBA defenses.
Race Thompson is a physical forward who also lacks a jump shot. He’s an intelligent defender with good timing. He may be without an NBA position due to his lack of height and mundane foot speed.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Adam Flagler was the 51st ranked prospect on my board and is a massive bargain on an Exhibit-10. He’s a lights out shooter and made 39.6% of his threes on high volume during his college career. He has NBA range off the catch and dribble. Flagler made tremendous strides as a passer during his final college season, going from 3.0 APG to 4.7 APG while keeping his turnovers flat at 1.7/game. There’s some real vision and craftiness to his creation. I’m betting that he has enough length and intellect to hang around the NBA for a long time. Caleb McConnell is a defensive stopper who generated some positive buzz during team workouts. His 2.5 SPG in the Big Ten is a fantastic mark. He slides well and is a pest on that side of the floor. Offensively, he has some Andre Jackson to him as a passer. He sees the whole court and uses the pairing of his size and fluidity to create for others. McConnell struggles to score, though, shooting 39.5% from the field and 20.3% from three this past season. To stick, he’ll have to find a way to put the ball in the cup.
Justice Sueing is a big wing with a nice face-up game in the mid-range and positive athleticism. He’s never been a knock down shooter, though, and that has to come for him to be an NBA guy. Tanner Groves is the opposite— a lesser athlete who is a career 35.3% three-point shooter. He can move into his shot and hit tough ones with a hand in his face. He’s physical on the glass. Defensively, he’s a little small for the five and a little slow for forwards. Hunter Maldonado is older, but he’s stuffed the stat sheet a comical degree at Wyoming the past few seasons. At 33.8%, he’s coming off his best three-point shooting season yet. The ultra-physical jumbo guard is my favorite to find an NBA spot out of the OKC Summer League selections.
Tyger Campbell slotted 100th on my final big board. He’s a pace-heavy point guard who averaged 5.0 APG to 1.6 TOV. Players who competed against him in college and during the pre-draft process noted to me that he was a difficult cover and a headache to telegraph. He shot just under 37% from three during his last two college seasons and developed better range on his shot. An undersized guard without a ton of speed and athleticism, he’ll be facing an uphill battle, but he’s supremely skilled and intelligent. Dexter Dennis is a physical force who plays bigger than he is. He makes his mark on the glass, blocks a lot of shots for his size (3 BLK% over the past three seasons), and previously earned an AAC Defensive Player of the Year Award while at Wichita State. Dennis needs the shot to stick. He’s a career 33.6% from long range, and without the jumper, his offensive role at the NBA becomes a murky projection.
-Marcus Bagley, 6’7”, Arizona State
Ricky Council IV ranked 55th on my final board. He runs, jumps, and plays with the physicality of an NBA wing. Council made tangible skill improvements on offense throughout his college career. As a sophomore, he polished up his attacking footwork to get inside better. As a junior, he started to find his teammates when he got down hill more consistently. He can make plays on defense, but his on-ball technique and off-ball awareness faded at times. Part of that may be attributable to his role this past season, as he was a higher usage player on a team that struggled in the half court offensively. His attitude and demeanor are tremendous. He plays with a contagious energy and just seems like a dude you’d want on your team. His jumper is the big question. His three-point percentage dropped every season, from 44.4% to 30.6% to 27%. Council is far more comfortable pulling up in the mid-range than taking a three off the catch. His mechanics are odd, shooting the ball across his body rather than following a straight-line path with the ball. If the shot comes around, he’ll be an NBA bench guy for years to come.
Terquavion Smith was 56th on my last board. He’s a bucket-getter. Smith is lightning quick, his handle is polished, and he generates space well sideways and backwards. He went from 2.1 APG to 4.1 APG this past season and did a much better job of keeping his eyes up for teammates while creating with the ball in his hands. He’ll bring real floor spacing as a 40.2% three-point shooter off the catch during his two college seasons. He took 14.3 threes per 100 possessions in college, loves to launch, and can hit from NBA range. Defenses have to play up on him. Defensively, he can make plays, but from a technical standpoint, he can leave a lot to be desired. The biggest issue for Smith is that he’s rail thin, and that bleeds into multiple elements of his game. Opposing drivers can plow through him. He struggles to finish against contact. Smith also didn’t get much bigger between his freshman and sophomore seasons. He needs to fill out, better handle physicality, and find more consistency as a scorer. There’s a path for him to be a microwave bench scorer if he does two of those things.
Azuolas Tubelis was 71st on my final board. From an advanced numbers standpoint, he checks a lot of boxes. He had BLK% and STL%s over 2 each of the past two seasons. He’s a great passer for his size, posting a 15.6 AST% over the last two years. Tubelis sees the whole floor and relishes in punishing double teams inside. He loves to run the floor and get an early post-seal for an easy bucket. He’s tough to move around and makes an impact on the glass on both ends. Where it gets tricky for Tubelis is translating his college production to an NBA role. His wingspan and standing reach don’t quite meet the typical threshold for centers and he’s not a big leaper. I’m not sure he’ll be quick enough to check NBA forwards. He shot 31.3% from three, and the shot looks good, but he only took 1 per game. Players with size and feel tend to make it work, so it’s not fair to write Tubelis off, it’s just a matter of him finding a way to maximize his skills within a winning NBA context.
Marcus Bagley rarely saw the floor in college due to injuries. He played 17 games over three seasons. He struggled inside the arc, only making 41.7% of his twos, but he does have size and he can shoot. Bagley made 35.1% of his threes on 5.5/game at Arizona State. For him, it’s about staying healthy and rounding out the rest of his game.
Trey Jemison ranked 82nd on my final board. He’s a grown man physically and is going to come into the NBA ready to bang bodies with every 5 out there. His career 7.5 BLK% and 11.8 OREB% speak to his ability to protect the rim on defense while generating extra possessions on offense. He’s totally low maintenance, content to live on easy dunks and putbacks while doing the dirty work like setting hard screens and collecting offensive rebounds. Despite his big frame, he's actually pretty solid guarding out in space. He’s not much of a passer and he doesn’t have much shooting range, but he’ll finish plays, do the little things, and defend. I love his fit here given Phoenix’s roster construction and probably would’ve given him a two-way out of the gate. Marcus Carr is one of those “perpetual prospects” who feels like he’s been around forever. This past season at Texas, he really cranked up his defensive intensity and passing. He loves the moment and competes hard. It’s tough for smaller guards, and he’ll have a shorter timeline to make it work in the NBA at 24-years-old, but this past season makes it harder to write him off. Grant Sherfield is an old school point guard. He’s a crafty passer who can sling out of the live dribble and he’s a potent pull-up scorer in the mid-range. He also shot just under 40% from three this season, which will be a must for him at the NBA level. He’s not the defender or athlete that Carr is, so he’ll have to show that his skills are on a different level to edge him out for a more favorable deal.
Portland Trail Blazers
Antoine Davis was one of the most prolific scorers in the history of college basketball, finishing only behind Pete Maravich in terms of total points scored in an NCAA Division-1 career. He averaged over 20 PPG during all five of his college seasons. He was a career 37.5% three-point shooter, but many of these looks were exceptionally difficult due to his role, and he took 17 per 100 possessions. The dude shoots a lot, but even the toughest looks have a chance. He’ll need to adjust to playing a more complimentary role and find open teammates more often. Davis is also a limited defender due to his lack of size and athleticism. Malachi Smith was a standout at Chattanooga who had a weird year after up-transferring to Gonzaga. His PPG dipped from 19.9 to 8.7, and he struggled to adapt after his bullying style didn’t scale up as well as some may have hoped. He has good hands on defense and he’s strong, but he’ll be a tad slow for the NBA. Smith is a smart player, and while the volume was low, he’s made 42.6% of his threes over the past three seasons. If he can continue to adjust to a more modern playstyle, the intelligence and shot look to be there inside his powerful frame.
-Jake Stephens, 6’11.75”, Chattanooga
Jake Stephens was one of my favorite players in college basketball last year. He’s limited athletically, but with a near-7’10” wingspan, his skill set is exceedingly rare for a player his size. He’s shot 45.3% from three over the past two seasons while taking over 5 a game. His shot preparation looks like that of a much smaller player, and his massive size makes his beautiful stroke difficult to impede. He’s a tremendous passer who slung 3.4 APG while making clever reads from the top of the key. He’s good at the stuff you’d expect him to be good at, too, averaging 9.8 RPG and 2.2 BPG. I ranked him 60th on my final board, because I simply would feel awful missing on a player like this if he wasn’t in draftable range. The fit here is stellar, given how much passing big men can do within the Kings offense. If his athleticism can be enough to stay on the floor defensively, he’ll be a killer pick-and-pop/handoff guy.
Justyn Mutts is equally quirky— a 6’7”, 235-pound man with the size of a tank and the feet of a ballerina. He’s able to guard up and down with his long arms and astonishing agility. His feel is off the charts, enabling him to make smart plays as a defender and passer. He just need the shot to become respectable (career 30.3% on low volume) so that teams don’t totally cheat off him. He could also carve out a role alongside a floor-spacing big man. Mutts was 81st on my last board. Dane Goodwin is a legit shooter (39.1% from deep over five college seasons) with a solid body at 214 pounds. His feel is good, too, with a 2-to-.9 assist-to-turnover ratio this past season. While he’s tough and pretty strong, he can be slow to react on defense. He needs to get quicker and offer more on that side of the ball to find an NBA landing spot.
San Antonio Spurs
-Sir’Jabari Rice, 6’4”, Texas
Summer League Deal:
-Erik Stevenson, 6’3.5”, West Virginia
-Logan Johnson, 6’2”, Saint Mary’s
Sir’Jabari Rice ranked 58th on my final board. Let’s get the negatives out of the way: he’s almost 25-years-old. That’s about it! I’m bullish on him otherwise. He shot 37.1% from three on good volume, and he pairs that with the greatest pump fake in basketball. From there, he attacks, with his underrated pass-fake game helping him further bend and manipulate opposing defenses. He’s one of the craftiest, trickiest, and smartest players in this entire draft class. He’s also athletic and smooth with a giant 6’9” wingspan. He’s a competitive defender and holds up well against opposing guards. I understand the age concerns, but he has NBA tools, skills, and an exceedingly powerful basketball mind.
Charles Bediako ranked 75th on my final board. He’s an excellent lob target who had a 67.3 FG% during two college seasons. He blocks a lot of shots and held opponents to 28.9% at the rim in the half court. He’s mobile, athletic, dunks a lot, and protects the rim. Unfortunately, he has little in the way of ball skills and is a ghastly free throw shooter (35.5% last season). He’s too easy of a hacking target for my liking, and with big men becoming more skilled, I’m a bit more content to miss on him. Setric Millner scored 16.3 PPG on 49.5/42.0/78.3 splits as a fifth-year guy at Toledo. He can put the ball in the basket, and he makes good decisions. Athletically, he’s just okay, and his poor defensive stance will need to be cleaned up.
Erik Stevenson is a physically-strong combo guard who just shot a tad under 38% from three on high volume. He’s great off the catch and has great mid-range pull up. Given his size relative to the NBA, he’ll need to prove he can contain quicker guards while displaying more potent playmaking on offense. Logan Johnson is a poised playmaker on offense who forces a ton of turnovers when guarding the ball on defense. A career 28.9% three-point shooter, he desperately needs to shoot better to make get an NBA run given his size.
-Markquis Nowell, 5’8”, Kansas State
This was a very non-Raptors signing. Still, I couldn’t be happier for Markquis Nowell, who more than earned this opportunity after a wonderful NCAA tournament run and strong pre-draft process. He led high-major players in APG with 8.2, and he has an unbelievable sense of creativity. Nowell knows when and when not to get creative. He can sling whip passes out of his live dribble, but he’ll also throw the “right” boring pass when that’s most effective. He’s not going to be flashy for the sake of it. Despite his lack of size (yes, 5’8”, not 6’8”), he still made two all-defensive teams thanks to his intelligence, speed, and fast hands. That will still be his biggest NBA adjustment, though. Teams are going to hunt him. He also shot under 40% from the field in both of his Big 12 seasons, and making shots will only get harder as he scales up in competition.
-Joey Hauser, 6’9”, Michigan State
-Taevion Kinsey, 6’5.25”, Marshall
Joey Hauser is a big shooter. He’s 6’9”, and he made 41.6% of his threes on moderate volume over the course of his college career. Physically, he’s much more powerful than most shooters his height, and he throws around his body to control the defensive glass. His defensive metrics are poor, though. He doesn’t get up well and doesn’t have the footspeed to deal with smaller opponents. He’ll need to figure out a way to click on that side of the floor. If he can, his firepower as a shooter and quick decision-making could go far.
Taevion Kinsey ranked 80th on my final board. He’s an awesome athlete who can run and jump with the best of them. He’s a smart player, too, who made great strides as a passer during his last two college seasons. Despite a heavy offensive workload, he had his best defensive season as a graduate, locking up tough assignments and using his physical tools to make plays off the ball. For Kinsey, the question has always been his jumper. He’s career 30.2% shooter from three on very low volume. If the shot doesn’t come, he’s toolsy and creative enough that he could still emerge with the right system fit.
Nick Ongenda was a late riser. He missed most of the season, but in DePaul’s final 8 outings, he blocked 4.4 shots per game. His size, mobility, and rim protection give him a real chance to find a role. Offensively, he’s strictly a play finisher due to his limited range and lack of passing ability. Ed Croswell is big, tough, and smart. With a 247-pound body, he’s difficult to push around and he still moves pretty well. His processing allows him to make plays off the ball on defense. Unfortunately, he lacks a jumper, so he’s basically an undersized 5 for now, and he’s not a potent enough rim protector to find an NBA roster spot given that profile. Keshawn Justice is another big shooter, knocking down 38.3% of his college threes on decent volume. He’ll hit them from NBA range. His passing is good, too. Unfortunately, he’s a tad heavy and slow, so defense is going to be a challenge. Kihei Clark is an undersized guard who keeps the ball on a string and has some creativity as a passer. He made an all-defense team in college, but his diminutive frame will create new challenges there in the NBA for him. He can be too ball-dominant and keep the ball too long at times. Clark will likely need to become a nuclear shooter to stick.
Summer League Deal:
-Osun Osunniyi, 6’10”, Iowa State
Osun Osunniyi is a mobile, defensively oriented big man. His career block rate of 11.3% matches the eye test, as he’s a big time leaper around the basket and can swat shots with the greatest of ease. He’s light on his feet and can hold his own in space, too. Offensively, he’s a good lob target and effective passer. Nearly 25-years-old, Osunniyi’s skinny frame can be a hinderance on the interior. He got bullied at times, and his arms can fall forward when players drive into chest, resulting in a lot of fouls being called against him. If he can hold up from a strength standpoint, he’s got a shot at a two-way.
The John Butler Award
Last year, the highest ranked college prospect on my board who had yet to sign with a team was John Butler. This year, that distinction goes to JT Shumate, who ranked 84th on my final board.
Shumate has tremendous shooting touch. He transferred up to Toledo after two seasons at Division-II school Walsh. A graduate prospect, in each of the past two years, he made more than 60% of his twos, 40% of his threes, and 80% of his free throws. Few players are as adept at putting the ball in the basket as Shumate, and he’s done in sustainably in a good mid-major league for three seasons now. Even better, he moves the ball quickly and makes good decisions, posting a near 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio this past season. At 6’6” with a near-6’11” wingspan, he’s got NBA size, too. His athleticism is nothing to write home about, but his technique goes along way defensively. Against Michigan, he held his business when switched against both Hunter Dickinson and Kobe Bufkin. He know how to use his length, and his understanding of how offenses flow enable to make plays off the ball. His size and outrageous shooting profile give him a real NBA chance in my book. As I finish this column, he still hasn’t struck a deal. A front office needs to change that ASAP.