5 Undrafted Free Agent Difference Makers


Feb 19, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie (5) dribbles around Florida State Seminoles forward Okaro White (10) during the first half at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, some of the best-of-the-best at the college ranks fail to hear their name called on the night of the NBA draft. Like clockwork, multiple undrafted rookies find roster spots on teams and sometimes go on to be difference makers for said team.

This year will likely be no different. Regardless of the reason NBA teams passed on these guys, the same teams were ecstatic when they were given the opportunity to pursue them after sixty picks went by.

In no particular order, here are five players that managed to get passed on by NBA teams’ brass on the night of June 27th that may go on to have productive NBA careers.

1. C.J. Leslie – Forward, N.C. State

Leslie’s athleticism for his size has been the most attractive asset for NBA scouts and teams from the moment he stepped foot on the floor for the Wolfpack. Unfortunately, his 6-foot-9, 200 pound frame leaves him a little lanky for the power forward position at the association, and his skills are not parallel to those that play small forward either.

However, according to Leslie, he thinks his inability to work out for teams due to injury was the lone reason for going undrafted. The New York Knicks have given Leslie a chance, and despite falling under the “tweener” label, New York’s pick-and-roll offense may be just the system Leslie needs to thrive.

Potentially a poor man’s Thaddeus Young?

2. Phil Pressey – Point Guard, Missouri

Phil Pressey was handed the keys to Missouri’s basketball team shortly after arriving. For the most part, Pressey was rather successful. Unfortunately for him, NBA scouts questioned his decision making on a consistent basis. Despite showing flashes of brilliance from time to time, the crucial mistakes were just too much of a gamble for a team to use a draft pick on.

If an NBA team gives Pressey a veteran mentor to show him the ropes, the chances that he may develop into the player that many thought he would become skyrocket. Perhaps Chauncey Billups? Maybe Rajon Rondo?

3. Seth Curry – Guard, Duke

Stephen Curry and his brother, Seth, both excel more than the average NBA player in one particular area: shooting. If offenses in today’s game have shown one thing, it is that they want to space the floor with shooters to give room for their post players to go to work and visa versa.

Seth has already been invited to join the training camp of both the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, the team that Steph plays for. Shooters tend to last in the NBA, even if that is all that they can contribute. Both systems would be beneficial to the younger of the Curry brothers. Look for him to make teams that passed on him in the second round regret it.

4. Richard Howell – N.C. State

Howell may be slightly short for the power forward position, but his tenacity and rebounding prowess make up for it. The second N.C. State product to make the list is the farthest thing from glamorous. He doesn’t need touches in the post to be efficient, or even care about points. When Howell enters the game, everyone knows what to expect from him.

His blue-collar mindset and overall passion for the game will entice teams. NBA teams are always in need of hard-nosed rebounders, especially bigs. Howell fits the bill of a player that will come off the bench, provide energy, and while he may never win a game for you, he will never hurt you. Comparison wise, Ivan Johnson is what comes to mind when watching Howell play.

5. Matthew Dellavedova – Point Guard, Saint Mary’s

Dellavedova established himself as the best pick-and-roll point guard in college hoops last year at Saint Mary’s. Much of Dellavedova’s diminished draft stock may be contributed to the simple fact that he stayed in college for all four years rather than leaving to go pro earlier.

Regardless, Dellavedova was a productive player for four years, and at the ladder part of his college career, became one of the best players in the nation. Most teams in the NBA are transitioning into pick-and-roll offensive sets, and this could play right into the hands of Dellavedova. If given the chance, his overall knowledge of the game and ability to make the right play could possibly shine through, making him a diamond in the rough.