2015 NBA draft: Alexander, Wood highlight list of best undrafted players
You hear the sad stories every year. Thursday’s draft came and went, and plenty of talented rookies found themselves without teams after 60 picks. The situation now remains essentially the same, as many of these prospects will get another shot with NBA teams during summer league. From there, the D-League or overseas ball awaits those who fail to find a home right away. It’s not the end of the road for these guys, but consider this their first major career fork. From here, there’s an opportunity to change opinions, but nowhere to hide your weaknesses.
Here’s a rundown of the top undrafted players from last night’s proceedings.
Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas
Alexander’s fall from grace, from All-American in Chicago to projected lottery pick to enigma at Kansas, came to completion last night when the big man tumbled past all 60 picks. It’s a bit of a surprise, as Alexander is still talented, physically gifted, and intriguing as a prospect – but his inconsistent performances and unceremonious exit at Kansas didn’t help his case. It’s not likely his troubles with the NCAA alone would be enough to keep him from being selected, but some amalgamation of red flags had to have been a factor. Alexander should get a shot to prove himself again in summer league, and in the right situation, could get another chance to make good. There are a lot of if’s here, but he’s now a relatively low-risk dice roll.
Update: As of Saturday morning, source tells SI.com Alexander will sign with the Nets.
Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
Wood presented a raw but intriguing set of skills coming out of UNLV – he’s got terrific size and athleticism and a decent shooting touch. He’s very skinny, but it’s rare you hear of a player unable to add bulk once he gets inside a professional weight room. Wood was a projected late first-rounder and it’s a bit mystifying that nobody took a gamble. It’s especially to his advantage now that he can pick a summer league team and go somewhere willing to invest in his skills. He’ll likely be D-League bound, but has the type of talent and positional fit to succeed. He’s still just 19. It's no wonder he's already reportedly set to play for the Rockets this summer.
Robert Upshaw, C, Washington
The troubled big man has reportedly agreed to join the Lakers in summer league. He’s a first-round type talent with major question marks surrounding his makeup motivation – not to mention dismissals from both Fresno State and Washington. When Lorenzo Romar kicked him off the team last season, he was leading the NCAA in blocked shots and the Huskies in rebounding. Now, Upshaw will have to catch on somewhere and right the ship. It’s not a question of if he’s good enough to play in the NBA, but if he’s willing to do what it takes to be part of a team.
[daily_cut.nba]Jonathan Holmes, F, Texas
An honorable mention All Big-12 forward, Holmes’ versatility and soft shooting touch made him a projectable prospect with late first, early second-round appeal. Holmes is a natural four-man who can swing to the three with good speed and quickness, but even that mixed with his three-point range still wasn’t enough to get him drafted. Holmes could still carve out a role for himself somewhere with skills that, in a vacuum, most teams covet – but he doesn't have an elite calling-card ability. If the cards fall correctly for him, he still has a chance.
Aaron Harrison, SG, Kentucky
Amid the slew of Wildcats drafted, the elephant in the draft room (solely figurative as neither Harrison twin attended) was the fate of Aaron Harrison, who saw brother Andrew taken at No. 44 in addition to five of their teammates. A seventh drafted Kentucky player would have set a record for draftees from one school. Instead, Aaron will have his work cut out for him. Despite his clutch college shooting, Harrison isn’t as much of a point guard as his brother, which makes his size less appealing and presents a somewhat underwhelming profile for an NBA two-man. Rather than join his brother in Memphis, he’ll reportedly spend summer league with the Hornets.
Brandon Ashley, PF, Arizona
Ashley will reportedly play with the Lakers in summer league, a former McDonald’s All-American who never quite lived up to the billing in Tuscon. Conceptually he’s a stretch-four, but he’s more comfortable in the mid-range areas and doesn’t really shoot threes. He’s not outstandingly mobile and stands just 6’8”. Though his 7’3” wingspan and 35.5-inch vertical are solid, he’s not a shot-blocker either. Altogether, Ashley lacked elite college production and it'll take some work for him to cut it in the NBA.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh, C, France
Jaiteh was productive for Nanterre last season and has developed pedigree as a player who was recruited by high-major schools and played in the Nike Hoop Summit in 2013. He opted to stay home and go pro, has played heavily for the French junior teams, and ultimately, despite a pretty good showing in five-on-five at the combine, went undrafted. He’s got an NBA body and has improved skill-wise the past few years, but it appears scouts aren’t sold yet. Jaiteh told media he doesn’t want to be a draft-and-stash player, so we’ll see if he tries the D-League route or if he stays in Europe. He’s only 20.
Michael Frazier, SG, Florida
Frazier is a strong shooter who works hard on the defensive end, and he’s committed to play for the Warriors in summer league. He seems like a sensible fit for Golden State’s system, with good size at 6’5” and as a guy who keeps defenses honest from deep. Frazier may not develop into an elite NBA sniper, but if he understands his value as a role player he may not have to. Many had him as a second-round pick, but going undrafted with the Bay Area as an initial stop might actually be a better scenario for the former Gator’s career.
Dez Wells, SG, Maryland
Wells was a productive four-year college player, but oftentimes all that nets you is the “old” tagline. He’s reportedly got a summer league deal with the Wizards and could work his way onto the team with a good showing – the Wiz could use some depth at shooting guard behind Bradley Beal, and Wells is physically developed, experienced, and extremely competitive. He’s a scorer first and foremost and can guard his position. Though he’s a little undersized for a wing, he could perhaps turn into a useful option off the bench. Wells was high school teammates with John Wall, and one report even lists him as ‘expected’ to make the team in D.C.
Quinn Cook, PG, Duke
Cook went out at Duke with a national title but had little to show for it on draft night, although he’s reportedly joining the Thunder for summer league. He has a reputation as a hard worker, but he’s undersized and not an elite athlete. Still, Cook was productive in college and at least will likely get a chance to show his stuff, as OKC first-rounder Cameron Payne nurses a finger injury. Europe might be the more logical destination long-term.