The Undrafted Free Agent Roll Call
This one is for the Draft Sickos! Maxwell Baumbach walks you through the fringe prospects NBA teams passed on, where they are headed, and details how they can make it in the league.
My favorite part of the NBA is what happens on the margins. Anyone can point to Cade Cunningham and say: “he will be a good basketball player.” It doesn’t take an Einstein to say: “when the Golden State Warriors acquired Kevin Durant, that helped their title chances.” The real sickos pay attention to the fringes of the league, and that’s where the best teams often find value. Look at the Toronto Raptors, who scooped up undrafted free agent Fred Van Vleet, who subsequently had an excellent NBA Finals performance that propelled them to a championship. The fringes MATTER, but they’re also fun. It’s exciting to know about the guys no one else cared about once they become good! Just because a player wasn’t drafted doesn’t mean they won’t become massively important to a fantastic NBA team. So, I’m dragging you all into the mud with me. It’s time for the Undrafted Free Agent Roll Call.
Exhibit-10: Tyson Etienne
Summer League Invites: James Akinjo, Grant Golden, and Anthony Duruji
Tyson Etienne is a bucket-getter who posted 14.9 PPG for Wichita State last season. Though he only made 32.6% of his threes during his junior season, he launched them with fervor, taking 8.3 3PA/game and making 39% of his attempts as a freshman and sophomore. I was a bit disappointed in his most recent campaign, as he didn’t show any significant improvements to latch onto this past year. James Akinjo played with a tad more restraint at Baylor than he did at Arizona, but he still struggles to finish around the basket and will need to show that he can play without the ball in his hands. Grant Golden is a supremely skilled center with a wonderful passing package out of Richmond who offers little rim protection and doesn’t get off the floor well. The 6’7” Anthony Duruji was a stat-sheet stuffer for the Florida Gators and made 63.8% of his twos during his final season. His outside shot has always been a question mark (career 34.2% on 2.5 3PA/game), but he does everything else well. He’s a nasty defender (2.3 STL %, 2.4 BLK %) who attacks with a purpose and flies off the floor. Duruji has the most intriguing upside of the Summer League invites.
Summer League Invites: Trevion Williams
Trevion Williams ranked 57th on my final Big Board. The Purdue product is one of the best big man passing prospects I’ve ever seen, but he’s a subpar lateral mover with little vertical lift. As a result, it’s hard to pin down what exactly his defensive role would be at the next level. I actually love this flier for the Celtics, as they have so many potent defenders that he would actually be well insulated within their system. Robert Williams is similarly a skilled passer, so they clearly know how to utilize those tools on the offensive end. Trevion Williams impressed during the NBA combine scrimmages; if he carries over those performances in Summer League, he could make the Celtics roster or command a two-way roster spot.
Two-Way Contract: Alondes Williams
Exhibit-10: Donovan Williams
Summer League Invites: Taze Moore, Brison Gresham, Noah Kirkwood
Alondes Williams ranked 59th on my final board and is deserving of a two-way contract. He’s an electric passer with a strong frame who gets into the paint at will but struggles as an outside shooter. He ranked in the 30th percentile per Synergy on catch-and-shoot jump shots and only made 27% of his threes over his college career, a disappointing number for a 23-year-old. Donovan Williams was a late-riser who had a breakout season for UNLV after a quiet two years at Texas. Ranking 92nd on my final board, he tends to do too much with the ball at times. Still, that’s easy to overlook, given that he ranked in the 99th percentile per Synergy on catch-and-shoot jump shots and no-dribble jump shots. He boasts prototypical wing size at 6’6”, moves well laterally, and can explode for dunks. He flew under the radar, but he has a real chance to stick. Taze Moore is a wildly fun player to watch with a high motor and potent athleticism. Still, he’s an older prospect who has never shown high-level chops as a scorer or shooter. Brison Gresham is an exciting shot-blocker (2.3/game in 19.7 MPG) from Texas Southern who struggles to stay out of foul trouble, struggles to stay out of foul trouble, and at 6’8” lacks height. Noah Kirkwood made headlines a few years back after attending Harvard despite his status as a Top 100 recruit. He has good size at 6’7”, he’s a respectable outside shooter (career 37% from three), can find the open man, and used his physical superiority to rack up steals.
Exhibit-10: Isaiah Whaley
Summer League: Justin Minaya, Brady Manek
Isaiah Whaley and Justin Minaya are similar types of players: big wings who defend. Whaley is more productive in terms of generating blocks and steals. Though Minaya is a subpar outside shooter, he’s at least shown a willingness to take them. Conversely, Brady Manek is all about offense, launching 6.2 threes per game this last year and knocking down a hair over 40% of them. For Whaley and Minaya, the name of the game is showing they can fit an offensive role, while for Manek, it’s about proving he can hang on defense.
Two-Way Contract: Justin Lewis
Summer League Invites: Javon Freeman-Liberty, Henri Drell, Akoldah Gak
Justin Lewis was my top undrafted free agent in this class, ranking 40th on my final Big Board. His size and length, combined with his budding outside shooting ability (34.9% from three last season on 5.2 3PA/game, up from 21.9% on 1.5 3PA/game), give him a genuine chance to earn a permanent roster spot and contribute for the Bulls immediately. Javon Freeman-Liberty was a hyper-productive combo guard for DePaul this past year, scoring 21.7 PPG and tallying 3.2 APG as their leading man. He can make tough shots and distribute the ball well, but he struggles with quicker players on defense and doesn’t have great positional size. Henri Drell most recently played for the Windy City Bulls. The 22-year-old was nothing to write home about, but he’s 6’9”, he can defend, and it looks like he might shoot it at some point (30.8% from three last year). Akoldah Gak most recently played for the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL but barely saw the floor.
Summer League Invite: Malik Osborne
The 6’9” Malik Osborne is rock-solid. He scored 10.0 PPG to go with 6.9 RPG, and he knocked down 36.1% of his threes during his three seasons at Florida State. He’s 24, so he’s sort of an “it will happen or it won’t” proposition, but for a young Cavaliers team looking to compete, he’s the right type of guy to have on board.
Exhibit-10: Marcus Bingham
Summer League Invite: Guo Haowen
I’ve long been higher on Marcus Bingham than the consensus. The Michigan State prospect ranked 78th on my board thanks to his upside as a three-and-D big man. Last season, he connected on 41.5% of his attempts from long range while tallying 2.2 BPG and 0.9 SPG. Bingham has to show improved decision-making and passing, as he produced nine or fewer total assists in three of his four college seasons. Guo Haowen most recently played for the Shanghai Sharks, where he posted strong scoring numbers for a 22-year-old in the CBA. His track record in international tournaments is strong as well—namely his performance in the 2019 FIBA U-19s that saw him rank in the top five for both points and assists.
Two-Way Contract: Collin Gillespie
Exhibit-10: Adonis Arms, Kellan Grady
Summer League Invites: Drake Jeffries
Collin Gillespie slotted 67th on my final board, and the older guard prospect deserves this type of opportunity from a competitive team. Gillespie made 41.5% of his threes on 7.2 3PA/game this past season, he’s NBA strong, and he’s a good passer. Adonis Arms also finished in my Top 100, ranking 88th. He’s a versatile player at 6’5” with the strength to guard up and the quickness to guard down. Arms is also an excellent passer who can hit open teammates out of the live dribble. If his shot can stick (32.6% from three over the last two seasons), he’ll stick as a quintessential modern-day rotation player. Kellan Grady is a shooting specialist (41.5% from three on 6.2/game last season) who can launch off screens, movement, and his dribble. His time as a leading man at Davidson helped develop his playmaking chops, too, and he’s not a horrible athlete. Drake Jeffries is another long-range bomber. He was critical to Wyoming’s fantastic 2021-2022 campaign, hitting 40.9% of his triples on 6.8 3PA/game. At 6’5”, he’s not a true three-and-D product, but he’s not getting completely toasted on that end, either. Jeffries took less than one two-point attempt per game the past two seasons and will need to prove he can score inside the arc, too.
Two-Way Contract: Buddy Boeheim
Exhibit-10: Stanley Umude
Unspecified, Likely Exhibit-10: Kam McGusty, Jules Bernard
Summer League Invite: Charlie Moore, Jimmy Boeheim III
Buddy Boeheim is a monster from long-range and was the last player out of my Top 100. His Synergy rankings are sublime (90th on pick-and-roll offense, 93rd spot-up offense, 84th no dribble jumpers, 90th jumpers off the dribble) and tell the tale of a player who can make it rain from long range in a variety of ways but also make reliable passing decisions. Defensively, he was hidden by Syracuse’s zone defense scheme, and he remains a giant question mark on that end. Stanley Umude posted video game numbers at South Dakota State as a senior before playing a graduate year at Arkansas. He looked the part of a two-way wing, scoring 11.9 PPG on 37.1% from distance, a STL % of 2.0, and a BLK% of 3.3. If he scales up well, he could click. Kam McGusty (91st in my Top 100) was an electric scorer for Miami, but he doesn’t have much room for error as he’s nearly 25 years old. Jules Bernard (99th in my Top 100) is a physical wing player who is good through contact, but he needs to consistently hit threes and play defense. Charlie Moore is an electric player to watch, but at 5’11”, it will be hard for him to stick around. He’s pesky at the point of attack, so he’s not totally helpless on defense. Jimmy Boeheim is bigger and more physical than his brother, but he’s far less consistent as a scorer and faces similar defensive questions.
Golden State Warriors
Two-Way Contract: Lester Quinones
Summer League Invites: Kalob Ledoux, Payton Willis, Jacob Gilyard, Alex Morales
“The Short Shorts King” Lester Quinones barely missed my Top 100. He’s a reliable three-point shooter (39.4% over his last two seasons) who finishes well around the basket when chased off the line. There’s also a real swagger and toughness to him, and his guitar taunt after a made three has been my favorite celebration in college basketball these past few seasons. His rebounding numbers dropped this past year, but that was a product of Memphis playing bigger line-ups. Quinones is willing to scrap and get physical on the glass. Kalob Ledoux finished 94th on my Big Board. He last played for Golden State’s G League affiliate and made over 40% of his threes while taking more than six per game. Ledoux has also shown more combo guard skills as a pro than he did in college and can finish above the rim. Those abilities are critical for his long-term success as a 6’4” 2-guard. Payton Willis bounced around from Vanderbilt to Minnesota to College of Charleston and back to Minnesota. The combo guard offers excellent outside shooting, has made 41.8% of his threes over the past two seasons, can finish inside the arc, can find open teammates, and limits his mistakes. At 5’9”, Jacob Gilyard may seem like a long shot, but he has genuine fans who believe he can make it. He averaged a comical 3.2 steals per game across his final three college seasons. While his career 36.2% three-point mark may not jump off the page, he has an impressive shot-making bag from distance. Alex Morales was the Northeast Conference player of the year this past season. The Wagner product can fill it up (17.6 PPG), rebound (8.0 RPG), and find the open man (3.8 APG). He also earned conference Defensive Player of the Year honors with a 3.1 STL % and 1.8 BLK %. For the 6’6” wing, it’s a matter of whether or not his production can hold steady as he faces a massive leap in his quality of competition.
Two-Way Contract: Trevor Hudgins
The 6’0” point guard Trevor Hudgins was the best Division-II player in the nation last year, leading that division in total points scored and three-pointers made. At the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, he showed a strong command of the floor and found creative ways to get around length. Still, he’s going to face an uphill battle as a small guard, and he can tend to force it at times when he can’t get his shot to fall. He lacks the shiftiness that is typically required for guards his size to stick in the NBA. Still, the Rockets are in need of game-managing guards, and Hudgins’s savvy should allow him to do that at times.
Exhibit-10: Tevin Brown, Jermaine Samuels, Fanbo Zeng, Eli Brooks
Tevin Brown was one of my favorite college players to watch this season and finished 55th on my final Big Board. That said, I thought a team looking to compete should have drafted him in the second round. He’s an exceptional shooter, especially off movement, and hit 38.6% of his threes on 7.3 3PA/game over his college career. This is even more impressive when you consider that he was often the top priority for opposing defenses. On the other end, Brown’s athleticism gives him a big leg up on fellow shooting specialists. He averaged 1.4 steals and 0.6 blocks per game this past year, getting into passing lanes with his quickness and soaring for blocks. Jermaine Samuels was a favorite of mine heading into the season, but he seemingly got the yips from distance this year. He faced several cold spells from long range, and his three-point percentage dropped from 37.1% to 27.6%. If Samuels can get his groove back, he could make it as a rotation player— he does everything else well. He’s 6’7” with a strong frame to guard up, he’s an outstanding box-out-then-soar rebounder, his feet allow him to cover smaller players, and he has impressive feel as a passer. Fanbo Zeng is a potential stretch big man. The least heralded of the G League Ignite prospects gets off the floor pretty well, has solid body control, and knows how to throw a pump fake to get himself a cleaner look from long range. Zeng isn’t consistent enough anywhere yet to make it, and his thin frame betrays him around the basket. I still think he’s an interesting long-term prospect, though. Eli Brooks is steady, reliable, and understood his role at Michigan. He hit 39.5% of his threes over the past two seasons, he excels on give-and-go plays, and he is comfortable off movement. At 6’1” he lacks ideal size, and he’s more comfortable off the ball than on it— though that may work in his favor in some ways at the next level.
Los Angeles Clippers
Exhibit-10: Michael DeVoe, Lucas Williamson, Justin Bean
Summer League Invites: Trey McGowens
Michael DeVoe is my favorite of this crop, slotting 93rd on my final Big Board. He has killer offensive footwork and a dazzling array of fake passes that help him get to his spots. DeVoe hit 39.3% of his threes during his college career, and many of those looks were self-created. As a passer, he has impressive flashes, but he often bites off more than he can chew and lacks consistency. His thin frame and passive effort on defense cause him issues, but there aren’t many guys who can fill it up like he does. Lucas Williamson is on the opposite side of the spectrum. The 6’4” graduate player out of Loyola Chicago is an absolute menace guarding on the ball. The combo guard also knocked down 39% of his threes this past season, a career high. His defense is excellent, but he’ll need to keep growing as a player who shoots and finds the open man, as offensively, he offers much less than his peers. Justin Bean stuffed the stat sheet last year: 17.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.5 BPG on 53.4/46.5/80.0 shooting splits. Unfortunately, Bean is undersized for the four and too slow to play the three. I’ve always been uncertain about his defensive translation, and he’ll be turning 26 years old during the next season. The speed of the game at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament gave him issues, and the game will only be faster in the NBA. Trey McGowens has often been in the shadow of his younger brother Bryce, but he was a solid contributor for Nebraska. At 6’4”, he’s small for a wing, only okay as a shooter, and merely a fine passer. He became a better three-point shooter during his final two seasons, and he’ll need to keep doing that to catch on.
Los Angeles Lakers
Two-Way Contract: Scotty Pippen Jr., Cole Swider
Exhibit-10: Fabian White Jr., Javante McCoy
Summer League: Shareef O’Neal, R.J. Cole
Scotty Pippen Jr. is my favorite of this bunch, ranking 81st on my final Big Board. Like his father, he’s a tremendous one-on-one defender who makes life difficult for opposing ball handlers. His shot-making profile is absurd, and he’s a way better shooter than his career 34.3% mark from three indicates. Pippen’s range is absurd, his handle is solid, and he’s a clever space creator. His passing game is more intermediate than good, and length gives him massive problems around the basket. His lack of size, paired with his inability to create paint touches, collapse defenses, and make high-level reads, will limit his ceiling; however, he’s so good as a shooter and defender that he still might carve out a long NBA career. At 6’9”, Cole Swider is an awesome shooter for his size. He made 40.8% of his threes over the past two seasons, and he emerged as a higher-level offensive option during his senior year at Syracuse after three seasons as a role player at Villanova. His defense isn’t anything to get excited about, though, and I was surprised to see him get a two-way over some of the available options, given the one-dimensional nature of his game. Fabian White is a mature player who developed the ability to knock down open triples in his final college season. He’s a smart positional defender with an off-the-charts motor that never shuts off. The speed of the game at the combine events gave him some issues. Still, he’s a hustle player with size who can hit open shots and defend a few positions without getting torched. Javante McCoy scored 17.4 PPG in his graduate year for Boston University. He can shoot, has solid athleticism, held his own at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, and performed well in his games against schools like Rhode Island and Florida State this past season. Shareef O’Neal is a thin big who struggles to stay vertical against contact and never stood out at LSU, but he’s fluid, clever on the offensive glass, and he has good shooting touch. R.J. Cole was exactly what you’d imagine when you hear “reliable, leader point guard” for UConn this past year. He’s a bit small at 6’1”, and his shooting and defense have always been more solid than impressive. Still, he’s a trustworthy player who won’t be afraid of the moment and can make good decisions.
Two-Way Contract: Kenneth Lofton Jr.
Unspecified, likely an Exhibit-10: Keve Aluma
As a man who similarly lost a massive amount of weight, I couldn’t be rooting for Kenneth Lofton Jr. any harder. Lofton ranked 68th on my final board. After decimating the competition for Team USA in the FIBA U19 tournament, he had his second consecutive productive season for Louisiana Tech. This time around, he was in much better shape and had no issues staying on the floor. At the G League Elite Camp, Lofton was in even better shape and earned himself an invite to the NBA Combine, where he again performed well. He’s unbelievably strong, he has a blinding first step, and his defensive instincts are great. Though he didn’t show much of a three-point shooting game in college, he knocked down a couple at the combine. He dominates mismatches on the block and is tremendous at passing out of double teams. Still, he’s stubby for the four-spot. He doesn’t offer rim protection and struggles against counter moves, and he hasn’t proven he can consistently hit threes. Keve Aluma is a late-bloomer who followed his coach from Wofford to Virginia Tech before oddly being a more productive player once he got to a power conference. His passing game for a big man is outstanding, and his feel is excellent on both ends of the floor. He’s not the most consistent three-point threat, so he’s not a true stretch big man, he’s got a sub-seven foot wingspan, and he’s not a good athlete by NBA standards. Still, he’s strong, smart, and knows what is going on at all times. He earned the 86th spot on my final Big Board.
Unspecified, likely an Exhibit-10: Orlando Robinson
Summer League Invites: Bryson Williams, Jamaree Bouyea, Jamal Cain, Jalen Adaway, Bryce Hamilton, Aaron Wheeler
As typical of recent years, the Miami Heat have a loaded Summer League roster as players try to work their way into one of the best developmental organizations in the League. Orlando Robinson (77th on my final board) appears to have the most concrete deal at this point. He’s a gifted offensive center who scored 19.4 PPG on 48.4/35.2/71.6 shooting splits. It’s not just that Robinson is a 6’11” shooter; it’s that he can also put it on the floor and find the open man, averaging 2.9 APG last season. My favorite improvement of his didn’t show up in the stat sheet, though, which was his demeanor. As a sophomore, he’d take himself out of games and get frustrated. During his junior season, he felt like a leader and someone you would want to go to war with out there. His case gets messy on defense, where he is slow off the floor and a poor rim protector. Bryson Williams ranked highest on my board at 72nd. He’s an older prospect at 24 years old, but he’s a true inside-out scorer at 6’8” who ranked in the 87th percentile on both jump shots and shots around the basket, per Synergy. His scoring arsenal is that of a polished pro, and there’s nowhere on the floor where he feels out of his element. Defensively, he’s not eye-popping, but he’s got length, and he’s alright at moving his feet. Jamaree Bouyea was 74th on my board. The San Francisco graduate is also on the older side of the equation, but he’s a great scorer (17.3 PPG), and his passing is trickier than you’d expect. He’s not super wiggly, and the previously mentioned Lucas Williamson gave him fits at the PIT. If his outside shot isn’t falling, teams will move on from him. Jamal Cain had four quiet seasons at Marquette before exploding as Oakland’s top scoring option. The 6’7” forward posted great steal and block numbers, but he only made 29.8% of his threes this past season. Jalen Adaway is a good scorer at 6’5”, but he doesn’t offer a ton on defense; his outside shot is more “good” than “great,” and he’s not much of a creator for others. The 6’4” Bryce Hamilton is also a gifted scorer with similar concerns to Adaway, but I believe he has a leg-up as a playmaker. That said, his defense and size is behind Adaway’s. Aaron Wheeler has good size at 6’9” and knocked down 38.5% of his threes. He’s also a solid passer for his size and is alright on the defensive end. He peaked as a scorer putting up 10 PPG as a senior, and doesn’t offer much on the glass.
Two-Way Contract: AJ Green
Unspecified, like an Exhibit-10: Iverson Molinar
AJ Green grabbed the 100th spot on my Big Board. He’s a prolific three-point shooter who can hit them off every type of movement. At 6’4”, he’s not the longest or most vertically explosive, but he has an awesome floater (85th percentile on runners per Synergy) that helps compensate for those. His quickness should help him run around screens to get open and help to mask some of his defensive deficiencies. Iverson Molinar was my 75th-ranked prospect. He was dreadful from three (25.2%) this past season, but he was operating more on the ball this season, and he knocked down 41.9% of his threes prior to this year. Murmurs of a shoulder injury also help ease those concerns. His playmaking took a massive leap forward, as he does an amazing job dicing through defenses in the pick-and-roll and can sling a variety of passes to open teammates.
Summer League Invite: Theo John
Theo John was a great garbage man center for Marquette for four years before heading to Duke for his graduate season. His role as Mark Williams’s backup was unglamorous, but he rebounded and protected the rim. He’s not exciting, but he’s dependable.
New Orleans Pelicans
Two-Way Contract: Dereon Seabron
Exhibit-10: Izaiah Brockington
Dereon Seabron captured some buzz early on in the season as a 6’7” jumbo playmaker who got to the rim at will. A strong NBA combine performance got him back on the greater draft radar, and he earned the 63rd spot on my final board. Seabron’s ability to grab rebounds, run the break, and get into the paint are all exceptional. Unfortunately, he’s a brutal outside shooter (25.6% from three), and he has poor touch around the basket (31st percentile per Synergy). Defensively, the less said, the better. If a team can get his jumper to near-acceptable and he can buy in defensively, he could become an incredibly dangerous offensive weapon. Izaiah Brockington finished 95th on my board. He’s a good decision-maker with a potent mid-range game. His three-point shot was better this season, but he’s still not consistent there, and he struggled around the basket.
New York Knicks
Exhibit-10: Jean Montero, Garrison Brooks
Jean Montero was slotted 47th on my board, but the Overtime Elite prospect slipped through the cracks on draft night. He’s a mesmerizing passer with fast hands on defense who can rack up steals. His finishing ability against length remains a question mark, as does his inconsistent long-range jumper. Garrison Brooks was an old-school power forward for four seasons at North Carolina. During his time at Mississippi State, he started to take threes and made 34.2% of them. Defensively, he’s not super exciting, but he’s strong, and he moves his feet well. If he can hit jumpers, he’ll have a chance.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Exhibit-10: Gabe Brown, Jaden Shackelford
Gabe Brown finished the year 70th for me. He’s a great athlete who can finish lobs around the basket, but he also boasts a reliable jumper and canned nearly 38% of his college threes. He didn’t post crazy defensive numbers, but he holds his own there, thanks to his savvy and physical tools. His handle leaves a lot to be desired, and he’s not much of a passer, so he’s limited if he’s not in transition or shooting a three off the catch. Jaden Shackelford is a great shooter who isn’t shy about launching. He’s unfazed by closeouts and has NBA range. The rest of his game is inconsistent, as he’s less comfortable in the paint and doesn’t offer much playmaking. His defensive tape is rough, and he falls asleep off the ball.
Summer League Invite: Tommy Kuhse
The 6’2” Tommy Kuhse spearheaded the offense for a great St. Mary’s team. He plays long on defense and finds the open man. Though he knocked down 45% of his threes this past year, he only took 3.2 3PA/game, and his track record prior to this year was rough. If the shot is real, he could catch on as a back-end rotation guard. Without it, his projection is far murkier.
Two-Way Contract: Julian Champagnie
Exhibit-10: Aminu Mohammed
Unspecified, likely an Exhibit-10: Michael Foster Jr.
The Sixers did well, landing all players who finished inside my Top 100. Julian Champagnie finished 56th on my board. He’s got a lightning-quick release from three-point range, can hit off movement, and pull up off the dribble. Champagnie is also a gritty rebounder and smart defender who averaged 2.0 SPG and 1.1 BPG this past season. He’s not athletically gifted, so he struggles to get to the rim, and quicker players will test his stiff hips and slow feet. Aminu Mohammed (84th on my board) has ridiculously long arms and plays hard-nosed defense. He also has real toughness and will compete on the glass with anybody. His offensive game is rough, as he shot below 38% from the field and only hit 31% of his threes. Some of his misses, especially around the basket, are brutal and truly concerning. If he can figure out how to score, he could be an awesome role player, but there’s also a world where it never comes together. Michael Foster Jr. (60th on my board) struggled laterally on defense while playing for the G League Ignite, but he’s recently lost a large amount of weight and went from looking doughy to looking shredded. His 28.9% from NBA distance and 78.3% on free throws give optimism about his jump shot, and he already does a great job of utilizing his length to generate blocks. If his change in physique leads to improved lateral movement, the Sixers may have gotten a steal.
Two-Way Contract: Keon Ellis
Unspecified, likely an Exhibit-10: Jeriah Horne
Summer League Invites: Jared Rhoden, Jai Smith, Alex O’Connell
Keon Ellis (73rd on my final board) is theoretically a 3-and-D prospect. He hit over 37% of his threes during his two seasons at Alabama. This past season, he averaged 1.9 SPG and 0.6 BPG. Ellis is also a high-wire athlete who finished in the 82nd percentile around the basket despite his skinny frame. Ellis was a lower-usage player than you typically see stick in the NBA, and the “in-between” parts of his game leave a lot to be desired. He’s a consummate gambler on defense, and the tape is a bit worse than the numbers would lead you to believe. Jeriah Horne finished 85th on my board. At 24 years old, he’s a geriatric prospect who can shoot the cover off the ball (40.7% from three, 86% from the line over the past two seasons). At 6’7” and 220 pounds, Horne is an excellent defensive thinker who pinpoints mistakes and immediately capitalizes on them, leading to averages of 1.3 SPG and 0.7 BPG. Unfortunately, he can’t do much of anything off the dribble, and he’s not a playmaker. Jared Rhoden also finished inside my Top 100 at 89th. He finished in the 88th percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers per Synergy, and at 6’6” with positive athleticism, he should be able to cover multiple positions. His game is held back by a poor shot diet and inefficiency at the rim. Jai Smith is a defensive playmaker out of Overtime Elite at 6’8”, but he didn’t attempt many threes and made less than 50% of his free throws. Alex O’Connell was a solid wing contributor for Creighton, but he lacks a signature skill to stand out from the pack.
San Antonio Spurs
Two-Way Contract: Dom Barlow
Exhibit-10: Kyler Edwards
Unspecified, likely an Exhibit-10: Josh Carlton, Jordan Hall
Summer League: Sasha Stefanovic, Darius Days, Anthony Polite
Dom Barlow is the cream of the crop, finishing 48th on my board. At 6’9”, he can rack up steals and blocks, plus he’s shown a budding jumper (33.9% from three). He’s a late bloomer who looked like a grown man during the NBA Draft Combine. If he can continue to develop his outside shot and consistently incite havoc on defense, there’s an NBA role for him. Kyler Edwards is a good three-point shooter and steady playmaker who relished big moments. At 6’4”, his three-point shot will need to be great, and he’ll have to work his tail off on defense to compensate for his lack of positional size. Josh Carlton is a play-finishing big man who never stood out to me as a potential NBA player. Jordan Hall has an intriguing combination of skills as a 6’8” guard. His counting numbers of 14.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 5.8 APG speak to his versatility. Despite this, he landed 71st on my board due to his frustrating shot selection, tentative physicality, and poor defense. He’s prone to back cuts, and his effort really comes and goes. The talent is there; he just needs to lock in more. Sasha Stefanovic is an electric long-range shooter (career 38.8% on high volume) with some playmaking chops, but he struggles on defense. Darius Days (79th on my last board) has a polished scoring package, but he’s a poor passer with choppy defensive footwork. The 6’6” Anthony Polite is the Florida State player you picture in your head—good defender, good passer for his size, smart, and a questionable shooter.
Two-Way Contract: Ron Harper Jr.
Summer League Invites: Alex Barcello, Jaylen Sims, Abu Kigab
I adore Ron Harper Jr. The senior out of Rutgers finished 43rd on my board. He’s an awesome jump shooter with good size who can guard up due to strength, guard down due to technique, is always in the right position to help, and can find the open man. In short, if what he does scales up to the NBA level, he’ll be a 6’6” multi-position defender who makes shots and moves the ball. That’s a winner. Alex Barcello (96th on my final board) is a great long-range scorer at 6’2” with passing understated by his assist totals. Barcello will likely struggle defensively due to his lack of length and he has a hard time gaining separation on offense. He may sound like fellow white point guard Collin Gillespie, but their styles of play are quite different. You can remember those differences by memorizing this rhyme: “If he’s a stocky bully, that’s Gillespie, you see! If he’s slithery on the go, that’s Barcello, you know!” Jaylen Sims carried a big scoring burden for UNC Wilmington, but he’s still a willing ball mover at 6’6” who can shoot and make plays for others. Abu Kigab is the Raptor’s type of guy: a 6’7” player with a strong body who can make plays for others but struggles from distance. If they can work out the kinks in his shot, I could see him hanging around.
Two-Way Contract: Johnny Juzang
Exhibit-10: Kofi Cockburn, Jeenathan Williams, Darryl Morsell
Summer League Invite: Jordan Usher
Johnny Juzang slotted 98th on my last board. He was a key part of UCLA’s final four run the year prior to this, but he didn’t improve much in his last campaign. He has a chance to stick as a shooting specialist, but he’s a subpar athlete with little else to offer. Kofi Cockburn finished 80th on my board. There’s a chance for him to have a long NBA career as a backup center thanks to his strength, interior finishing, and pick-and-roll defense savvy. His inability to provide meaningful spacing and his clunky feet from a standstill prevent higher-end outcomes. I’m bullish on Jeenathan Williams (76th on my last board). His 19.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.8 BPG on 49.0/45.1/69.0 splits have him as this year’s Terry Taylor Award Candidate. This award goes to a hyper-productive player who goes overlooked because they play in a smaller conference. Darryl Morsell is a fantastic defender but an inconsistent outside shooter. He’ll go as far as his jump shot can take him. Jordan Usher is a 6’7” bulldog who might play harder than anyone else in this column. He’s also a tricky driver and passer. Unfortunately, he’s already 24 years old and has failed to consistently knock down threes.
Exhibit-10: Quenton Jackson, Davion Mintz
Quenton Jackson has the feel of a culture-setter. After he measured short at the Portsmouth Invitation Tournament, I thought he was done. Instead, he played well there and at subsequent pre-draft events. His 1.8 SPG and 0.6 BPG make him a defensive menace. He’s a violent finisher at the rim, but he’s a little wild offensively, and his jumper comes and goes. Davion Mintz had a quiet year at Kentucky but torched the competition at the Tampa Bay Pro Combine. There, he displayed a dazzling array of offensive footwork, scoring moves, and passing that really reinforced for me that he could make it to an NBA roster at some point. If I hadn’t watched that event, I might have written him off. But now, I get it. That’s why you get this deep in the weeds. If you don’t, you could miss out.
Really helpful. I only started watching summer league games about 10 years back (I remember thinking that Kelly Olynyk was going to be a capable pro). There's talent out there, the key is the right situation for these players
Thank you from a fellow "sicko."