Every year at the NBA draft, there are some players that get passed over altogether that end up making the league anyways. Sometimes they end up having a better career than a lot of first rounders, being passed on twice by all 30 teams is a good way to put some extra motivation in those workouts.
Tonight was no exception, there are a few players I remain surprised were not given a shot at all at the NBA. Here a few of the prospects I think will eventually land themselves on a NBA roster through their hardwork and their natural talents.
Trevor Mbakwe, Power Forward, Minnesota
The knock on the big man from St Paul, Minnesota is that he is a bit small to play the power forward position at the NBA level. At 6″8 and not being particularly athletic, it is true that his size might become an issue when it comes to playing against pros. That being said, Mbakwe is a defensive rebounding nightmare and that tends to translate to the NBA no matter the athleticism level. One needs only to look at Utah’s Paul Millsap to see a perfect example of that.
While Mbakwe certainly will never be a leading scorer on any team, it seems silly to me to think that he wouldn’t be able to play spot minutes on some NBA bench, pitching in rebounding and defensive effort and allow the team’s starting big men to sit. A team like Miami that is looking to add some muscle to their front court could do so for cheap if they sign Mbakwe to a contract once they start looking at prospects that were left out of the draft.
I don’t think he will be out of a job for very long as he has a very recognizable and easy to pinpoint skill set that is always useful to many teams out in the NBA.
Myck Kabongo, Point Guard, Texas
The NCAA really did a number on Kanbongo’s draft expectations. Had he declared last year, he probably would have gone late in the first round. When this season started, he was expected to be a lottery pick. Then, he was suspended for most of the season for taking part in a workout that was paid for by Cleveland Cavaliers Power Forward and fellow Canadian Tristen Thompson.
Being out of the public eye for so long apparently affected Kabongo more than anyone thought. Most experts had him out of the first round but expected to be drafted early in the second round. I expected similarly and figured he might sneak in the late first round because of his abilities as a true point guard.
His name was never called. There are plenty of prospects, especially internationally, that will never even come near a NBA court and yet Kabongo was never drafted. I am not doubting his abilities to make it in the NBA. Though he may never become a full fledged starter, he has the talents to be a difference maker as a player in the league and I hope that someone comes calling this summer for some point guard depth. An ideal fit for him would be a team like the Thunder, who showed some real need for a creator when Russell Westbrook went down.
Ultimately this may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Kabongo as he will not get the chance to prove his worth to whatever team he chooses. The extra chip on his shoulder knowing he probably should have been a first round pick will probably make him work that much harder.
Khalif Wyatt, Guard, Temple
It is easy to understand why Wyatt was not drafted last night. He is a grauated senior who isn’t particularly athletic and doesn’t jump out at you in the way he plays the game. That being said, he is a very gritty player who played excellently his four years at Temple and found ways to score and lead his team to wins.
His performance in Temple’s loss in the NCAA against top seeded Indiana should have been a wake up call for scouts around the NBA. He outperformed number two overall selection Victor Oladipo and almost lead his team to an upset victory by himself, scoring 31 points and turning heads around the country. Had they won that game, I think Oladipo would not have gone as high as he did and Wyatt would have snuck into the second round somewhere.
Now he is left to find himself a spot on someone’s roster. I can see him dominating the summer league circuits and getting a non guaranteed contract with a team looking for bodies. If he does get himself a contract and makes someone’s camp, he should be able to stick around the roster and make the team as a 12th man. Given time, he will round out into a role player in the NBA. He will never be a star, but he should be good for small minutes to go in and take a few shots every game.
Seth Curry, Guard, Duke
His brother, Steph, is possibly one of the most popular player in the NBA right now and definitely one of its top shooters. His father, Dell, is one of the all time greatest NBA three point shooters of all time. Great long distance shooting runs in the family and Seth is no exception.
While he may not have the abilities Steph does, Seth Curry is a great three point shooter. He is the type of player you cannot leave open anywhere on the court unless you want to end up on the bench with your coach yelling at you for playing bad defense.
The knock on Curry is that he is extremely injury prone and has struggled to stay on the court. He has also not experienced much team success since transferring to Duke which has also hurt his NBA stock.
While he does not have the star power of his older brother, his shooting should get him a contract somewhere around the league. In today’s NBA, good three point shooting is a hot commodity that all teams are after. Shooters are sought after in a way quality big men are and they are always given a chance to shine because three points are always better than two. As long as Seth can avoid any injuries, he should play himself on a roster by the time the summer is over.
These are just a few players from this year’s crop that I think will eventually find their way onto a team’s bench. Many other players might not but for them, they will always have the option of going over to Europe or playing in the D league. With some time and experience, the NBA dream may once be re-ignited. The chase is never really over until the player himself decides that it is.