NBA Undrafted Free Agents 2014: Top 10 Players Available
The 2014 NBA draft was a deep one. So deep, in fact, that there are a handful of highly talented prospects who didn't hear their names called in Brooklyn Thursday.
These top undrafted free agents range from explosive point guards to centers with NBA-ready bodies to sweet-shooting wings.
They each might have a flaw or two, but their strengths should help them shine in NBA Summer League play and give them a chance to make a roster. Many of these NBA hopefuls have plenty of college experience, and they just need a chance to prove they can run with the big boys.
Based on tangible skills, production and upside, these are the top guys who weren't selected on draft night.
Honorable Mention: Bryce Cotton, Providence PG (6'0" Senior)
Although he stands just 6'0" with a 7'11" standing reach, Providence's Bryce Cotton has a chance to prove all 30 NBA teams wrong.
He's a flat-out playmaker, with athleticism to boot. He scored 21.8 points and dished 5.9 assists for the Big East champion Friars in 2013-14, and he only committed 2.4 turnovers in the process.
He's extremely creative and inventive in the lane, using his quickness and body control to find scoring chances for himself and teammates.
There's no guarantee he'll have a long, robust career, but we couldn't leave him completely off our undrafted rankings, and we certainly don't want to count him out. He could bring energetic playmaking off the bench once he gets accustomed to the NBA level.
10. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati SG (6'4" Senior)
In his senior year, Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick scored 24.4 points per 40 minutes.
Of course he's not going to put up that kind of production in the NBA; otherwise, he'd be a first-round pick. But it speaks to the kind of scoring instincts he has and shows that he knows how to look for shots and create opportunities.
Coming off the bench at the NBA level, he will be able to take advantage of angles and make sound decisions. You can trust him with the ball in a variety of situations.
He's not going to blow anyone away, but he's an experienced wing entering the league.
9. C.J. Fair, Syracuse SF (6'8" Senior)
C.J. Fair was a slasher and a mid-range shooter in college, eventually becoming a featured scorer on a strong Syracuse squad.
Then he found himself on the outside looking in on draft night, mostly because he doesn't fit all the requirements of a small forward. He's not an advanced ball-handler, nor does he have the quickness or three-point shooting that most wings possess.
So what exactly does he bring to the table entering the Summer League and training camp?
He'll move really well away from the ball as a peripheral piece, much like he did as an underclassman at Syracuse. He'll also drill 15- to 20-foot jump shots confidently while filling the lane in transition and playing respectable defense.
Fair's a decent enough athlete to hang with NBA reserves, and he moves his feet well on both ends despite not being explosive. In the right system, he'll prove that he's got a good nose for the ball and will do the little things.
8. LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State SF (6'8" Junior)
A poor athletic showing at the NBA Draft Combine and a relatively unspectacular season at Ohio State contributed to LaQuinton Ross' tumble out of the draft picture.
Fortunately, he can still try to crack a roster with his size and shooting.
Ross owns a 7'1.75" wingspan and a 8'10" standing reach, which means he'll be able to get his shot off against nearly every pro wing.
He's a confident shooter who drilled 39 percent of his triples as a role-playing sophomore, only to dip toward 35 percent when his usage increased as a junior. Ross should be able to launch threes efficiently in a minor capacity while making the occasional slash to the bucket.
7. Khem Birch, UNLV PF (6'9" Junior)
The team that takes a chance on UNLV's Khem Birch should get a great role player, even if he's underwhelming offensively.
The 6'9" junior will undoubtedly be able to defend NBA power forwards using his 7'1" wingspan and superb instincts. His combination of physical tools and timing enabled him to swat 3.8 shots per game in 2013-14 (that's a whopping 4.8 blocks per 40 minutes).
On offense, he won't be asked to do much. When he does catch it in the post, he goes up strong and draws lots of fouls. When he's moving away from the basket, he'll be able to catch and knock down jumpers from the elbow or baseline, but not much further.
He won't get substantial minutes every night, but his 10-15 minutes of rock-solid defense would be highly valued by a defensive-minded squad.
6. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina PF (6'9" Junior)
Two years ago, North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo was in the top 10 on several mock drafts and considered an exciting upside pick.
Now he finds himself undrafted because he couldn't stand out in any one area. He's not a post-up power forward, and he certainly doesn't have the skills to spend much time away from the basket. Ultimately, he didn't have a great feel for the game at UNC.
Nevertheless, he's a superb physical specimen with a 7'2" wingspan and ample athleticism. He could fill out a team's rotation as a reserve forward who covers ground end-to-end and finishes above the rim.
Don't expect extended stretches of production or post-up buckets in isolation, but McAdoo has a chance to survive simply due to his physical tools.
5. Jahii Carson, Arizona State PG (5'11" Sophomore)
Guards who stand under 6'0" rarely get drafted, so it's not astounding that Jahii Carson was snubbed.
The undersized floor general from Arizona State will bring a whole bunch of speed to the equation during Summer League play, and he'll put a lot of pressure on opposing guards if he lands in the NBA.
Carson's first step and acceleration into the lane are blinding, and he can pop up for jumpers. His shooting stroke has improved over the past year, and he could be a respectable threat from deep.
His quickness could also make him a viable, pesky on-ball defender.
Will he have the right mental approach on that end, and can he take good enough care of the ball on offense to find a spot in the league? We'll see soon enough.
4. Patric Young, Florida C (6'10" Senior)
What you see pictured above is 247 pounds of muscle yearning to prove that he should have been drafted.
Florida's Patric Young doesn't have an advanced scoring repertoire in the post, nor does he have a reliable outside jumper. He scored just 11 points per game as a senior. From that perspective, it's easier to grasp why he wasn't picked.
But he's one of the best undrafted free agents available because he's a tank who can battle for position on both ends. He will play stout defense while competing on the offensive glass and giving reserve bigs a run for their money by drawing fouls.
His optimistic NBA comparisons are Ben Wallace and Kenneth Faried, and those are players who he should emulate. He should fight to keep opposing centers out of position and overachieve as a rebounder.
That's a thankless role, but it's important and it's what he can offer.
3. Artem Klimenko, Russia C (7'1")
He dominated Russia's second division, but Artem Klimenko is unathletic and unproven against top-tier competition.
However, you can't teach 7'1", and it's hard to find 7'1" undrafted free agents who run end-to-end and have great hands like he does.
The big fella also shows promise on his pick-and-roll footwork as well as his basic post moves. Klimenko will be able to score over either shoulder in the NBA, and he's got great instincts on the offensive boards. Defensively, he's long, but he won't be a lethal shot-blocker due to his lack of springs.
He needs to put on another 25-30 pounds in order to operate effectively in the paint, but the raw materials are there for him to impose his will on both ends.
2. Jabari Brown, Missouri SG (6'4" Junior)
While he may not be an eye-popping prospect loaded with upside, Missouri's Jabari Brown can shoot better than a handful of wings who were picked on draft night.
He shot 39 percent from three-land in college, including 41 percent as a junior despite a heavy workload. Brown can come off screens, spot up or create his own perimeter jumpers.
In addition to drilling triples and manufacturing step-back two-pointers, Brown can do some slashing and score near the basket when he gets the chance.
Defense and athleticism are the two biggest weaknesses surrounding his game. Will he be able to check NBA shooting guards or make enough plays?
1. Deonte Burton, Nevada PG (6'1" Senior)
All 30 teams (and all 60 picks) passed up one of the most explosive players in the 2014 class.
Nevada's Deonte Burton is somewhat undersized at 6'1", but he's got speedy creativity off the dribble and can attack the rack physically and vertically.
He drives and slashes against defenses with a James Harden-style aggressiveness, often drawing fouls or scoring over opponents. From the perimeter, his jump shot is still questioned (he shot 31 percent on three-pointers as a senior), but his stroke looked good during predraft workouts.
Burton's other big offensive contributions as a point guard are his improved passing skills and his ability to operate the pick-and-roll. He's exciting to watch when he turns the corner off screens, and he will keep opposing defenses on their toes.
Factor in his physical defense and great instincts on that end, and you're looking at an awesome spark off the bench.
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