NBA's Best Undrafted Players
It's very early, of course, as Lin has played only 64 regular-season games over two seasons. But consider what the twice-waived guard from Harvard did in 25 starts with the Knicks in 2011-12: 18.2 points and 7.7 assists while leading New York to a 15-10 record. Read on for the players who have earned spots here with a longer track record of success.
The Virginia Union product recently completed the 16th (and perhaps final) season of a career in which he was named Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Star four times each. Wallace, a top rebounder and shot-blocker in his prime, was the defensive anchor of Detroit's 2004 title team.
The former Purdue standout made back-to-back All-Star appearances in 2003 and '04 and distinguished himself as an efficient offensive player and one of the best-passing big men in the league. Miller averaged 4.7 assists from the center position with the 2005-06 Kings. He's averaged better than 11 points and seven rebounds in his career, which wrapped up in 2011-12 with Minnesota after 14 seasons.
The Knicks signed Starks as a free agent in 1990. By then, Starks had attended three junior colleges and Oklahoma State, and played in the CBA and WBL. The 6-5 guard made the All-Star team in 1993-94, when he averaged 19 points, and was a crucial piece for a perennially contending Knicks team in the '90s.
Wesley spent 14 years in the NBA despite going undrafted out of Baylor. The 6-foot guard averaged at least 11.9 points in 10 consecutive seasons, including a career-high 17.2 with the Hornets in 2000-01.
The Spurs retired Bowen's jersey in March 2012, a nod to his stalwart defense and timely three-point shooting for three championship teams in San Antonio. Bowen, who rarely missed a game, made the NBA All-Defensive team eight times and shot 39.3 percent from beyond the arc. Not bad for an offensively limited swingman from Cal State Fullerton.
The Raptors signed Calderon as a 23-year-old free agent in 2005 after he had played six seasons in Spain. He's been Toronto's starting point guard more often than not ever since, offsetting his defensive weaknesses with offensive productivity. He's averaged at least eight assists in four seasons and is a career 48.2 percent shooter from the field.
Regarded as one of the league's better role players, Haslem was a steady presence at power forward on the Heat's 2006 title team. Haslem, who played collegiately at Florida, has career averages of nearly 10 points and eight rebounds.
The 5-10 guard from Southern University quarterbacked the Spurs to the 1999 title and ranked in the top 10 in assist average three times in his 16-year career.
Bell, a valuable contributor to so many successful Suns teams, has made the NBA All-Defensive team twice, led the NBA in three-pointers once and aggravated opponents with his rugged style countless times. He started about half the 2011-12 season for Utah at age 35.
The energetic 6-foot guard from Fayetteville State bounced around Europe and the U.S. minor leagues before catching on with the Magic as a 26-year-old rookie in 1994-95. He lasted until he was 39, winning Most Improved and Sixth Man awards and finishing with career averages of 9.2 points and four assists.
When you think 20-point NBA scorers, Mike James doesn't come to mind. But the 6-2 guard from Duquesne averaged 20.3 points for Toronto in 2005-06, the highlight of a nine-year, 10-team career. The Bulls waived the 36-year-old James in January 2012.
Matthews was so impressive in limited minutes as a rookie shooting guard with Utah in 2009-10 that Portland signed him to a five-year, $27 million contract after that season. Matthews, whose father, Wes, was a first-round pick and two-time NBA champion, averaged 15.9 points in 2010-11 and 13.7 in 2011-12.
Morrow has emerged as one of the best pure shooters in the NBA -- so much so that the Nets gave the former Georgia Tech swingman a three-yaer, $12 million contract as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors in 2010. Morrow slumped (by his standards) in 2011-12, but he's still a career 42.6 percent shooter from three-point range and he's averaged 12.1 points in four seasons.
The Bulls signed the hard-nosed Argentine forward as a free agent in 2004 and got four-plus productive seasons before trading him to Sacramento in 2009. The 32-year-old Nocioni is now a bit player with the 76ers, but he once averaged 14.1 points in Chicago.
Outlaw wasn't much of an offensive player (though he shot a high percentage by attempting most of his shots around the rim) and he was Shaq-like at the free-throw line, but he hung around for 15 seasons thanks in large part to his defense, rebounding and energy. And he was paid handsomely for it, reportedly making close to $40 million after going undrafted out of Houston.
After bouncing around in the NBA and overseas, Arroyo earned the starting point guard position for the Jazz in 2003 and set career highs with 12.6 points and 5.0 assists. The Puerto Rico-born Arroyo, a teammate of Raja Bell's at Florida International, was with Besiktas Milangaz in Turkey in 2011-12.
Daniels went undrafted in 2003 after an illustrious career at Auburn. The Mavericks, who thought about drafting him, signed him as a free agent that offseason. Daniels displayed a versatile game in limited minutes, made the All-Rookie second team and was rewarded with a deal worth up to $38 million over six years. The Mavs eventually traded him to Indiana, where he averaged a career-high 13.6 points in 2008-09, and Daniels is now a 13-minute-a-game reserve for Boston.
The second-shortest player in NBA history at 5-5, the former Eastern Michigan star has carved out a 13-year NBA career as a score-first point guard. He averaged a career-high 14.6 points in 2006-07, a season he split with Denver and Milwaukee.
Atkins spent a year in the CBA and two years in Croatia before catching on with the Magic in 1999, the start of a well-traveled 11-year career that featured four seasons with at least 12 points a game.
The power forward led the nation in double-doubles as an Iowa junior in 2000-01, but his size (6-8) and limited offensive prowess left him undrafted. He signed with the Seattle SuperSonics in 2002 and continued to attack the boards, averaging 6.6 rebounds in limited minutes. For his career, Evans averages 6.8 rebounds in only 19 minutes. He played with the Clippers in 2011-12.
After a stint in the D-League, the diminutive Barea carved out a niche as the Mavericks' backup point guard, using his signature speed and playmaking to help propel Dallas to the 2011 title. The former Northeastern standout signed a four-year, $18 million contract with Minnesota during the 2011 offseason.
Hudson, proud that he was overlooked in the 1997 draft, released an album Undrafted in 2007. The Southern Illinois guard played 11 years in the NBA, averaging 9.0 points and 3.4 assists. He averaged a career-high 14.2 points as a starter for the 51-win Timberwolves in 2002-03.
Hayes had one of the more unexpected triple-doubles in NBA history when he went for 13 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists for the Rockets in March 2011, part of a career year for the undersized center from Kentucky, who averaged 7.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He signed a four-year, $22 million contract with the Kings in 2011.
"Birdman" finished second in the league in blocks in 2008-09, when his defense and energy off the bench helped spark Denver to the conference finals. The Nuggets then rewarded Andersen with a five-year, $21 million contract.
Despite helping Kentucky to two Elite Eight appearances, Azubuike didn't hear his name called in the 2005 draft. But the 6-5 swingman found a home in Golden State, where he averaged 14.4 points in 2008-09 and 13.9 points in 2009-10 before a knee injury derailed his career.