Every year around this time NBA fans get a snapshot of their team’s young talent in the Summer League. For the most part, it’s a chance for all of us to watch our team’s first-round draft pick and see if they’re really worth all of the buzz. However, every year there is also a story here or there regarding a youngster that “somehow” went undrafted. “How did he slip through the cracks?” and “How come nobody saw this kid’s talent when they were scouting?” are pretty typical questions that get thrown around towards the end of Summer League play. This summer however, there have been a few undrafted guys that have caught NBA fans’ eyes, let’s take a look at a few of them.
Dean Wade – Cleveland Cavs
One of the reasons Wade went undrafted was a series of foot injuries when he was attending Kansas State, which left a lot of teams feeling uneasy about drafting the youngster. However, once he fell through the cracks on June 20th, this 6’10” 22-year-old was contacted by the Cavs and immediately signed a two-way deal, and so far it has shown to be a value pick-up for the Cavs.
While Wade’s overall scoring hasn’t been the brightest sport of his game (8.8 points per game), he has been averaging 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals, and 1.0 three-pointer per game. On top of this, couches and teammates have raved about his basketball IQ and overall skill level since joining the Cavs. He has proven to be a confident pick-and-pop shooter and has also shown some promise in the post, being able to both back down defenders and separate when needed.
Wade’s size and skill-set seem like a perfect fit for today’s NBA Power Forward position and the way he’s playing right now, he’ll undoubtably find himself a role-position on the Cavaliers. The only potential problem for Wade is avoiding injury, which has been his Achilles heel in the past (knock on wood). Let’s hope he has a long and more successful career in Cleveland than Dwayne Wade did.
Chris Clemons – Houston Rockets
One of the more confusing parts of Chris being on this list is the fact that he was the NCAA’s leading scorer in 2018-19. Nevertheless, he went undrafted and he has made the list. Clemons quickly got picked up the Rockets when he was passed up on every draft board back in June, and has contributed even quicker by leading all rookies in scoring this summer.
The 21-year-old has been lighting up defenses and combined for 44-points through two games and has hit 11-three-pointers thus far, a few of them being well beyond the arc. The other crazy part about this story is the fact that Chris is only 5’9″. Having said that, he plays with pace and is able to pull up from anywhere to make defenses pay.
One negative that I see in Chris’ game is that he has 33 attempted shots and only two assists. In no way has Clemons been shy about what he’s here to do, but this may play well into his favor. The Rockets are more than likely going to look to him as an instant form of offense and not a facilitator. Here’s to hoping this youngster can find his way onto an NBA bench and provide some points.
Jared Harper – Phoenix Suns
Harper, who took Auburn to the Final Four, somehow couldn’t find himself on anyone’s draft board back in June. Phoenix, however, added him to their Summer League roster and they should feeling very optimistic about him and his recently play. In his Summer League debut, Harper impressed by continuously frustrating a Knicks team, featuring R.J. Barrett and Kevin Knox, by beating them off the dribble over and over again.
His highest potential is as a pick-and-roll ball handler, where he ranked in the 90th percentile at Auburn. He has sound agility and has demonstrated the ability to perform as a pull-up shooter or a facilitator, a true Swiss-army knife. Lastly, he’s a solid defender, and though his frame measures in at 5’11”, the Phoenix Suns may have themselves a young talent to bring off the bench.
Terence Davis – Toronto Raptors
Davis was projected to go early in the second round of the draft back in June, but due to how unpredictable this past draft was, he wound up going undrafted. He was picked up quickly by the Denver Nuggets, where in his debut he posted 22 points, five rebounds, three assists, a block, and a steal. Hours later, the Toronto Raptors signed him to a two-year deal.
He has shot making momentum and his athleticism shines more often than not. He hit five three-pointers against the Magic and showed his ability as both a pull-up shooter and someone who can score off screens. Overall, Davis’ ability to get hot very quickly caught a lot of teams eyes as bench material, and his Summer League performance has reinforced this thought.
Zach Norvell Jr. – Los Angeles Lakers
It was easy for Norvell to get overlooked in his time at Gonzaga, as he played with top-10 talent Rui Hachimura and first-rounder Brandon Clarke. Norvell, however, has been showing the doubters he deserves a chance in the NBA.
So far, he’s averaged 12.4 points per game and averages 2.4 three-pointers per contest, making his case for the Lakers’ next bench scoring-specialist. He has been scoring relentlessly, either open or contested, and burying them from deep. He’s hitting spot-ups and flare screens and though he isn’t the most dynamic player inside the arc, he’s had a few drives this summer that have impressed.
Overall, he isn’t going to be a star anytime soon, but if he could continue to be a two-way player he may find his role on the Lakers bench and land himself a few minutes here and there to impress Los Angeles and make us know his name.
Here’s to hoping all of these rookies continue to prove the doubters wrong and make their ways onto heir respective NBA rosters.