Does it end at the draft day when you don’t hear your name mentioned by the organization? If these guys get their 60 players, it doesn’t mean the other players lack the talent needed. Instead, they probably miss some great players in the process, which we’ve seen in some of the best undrafted NBA players, who are playing today in big teams like Fred VanVleet and Joe Ingles.
If you ask the aspiring professional NBA players, they will tell you it’s challenging to reach the pinnacle of professional basketball players. As it’s hard to even get in the draft, and it’s not easy to make it as an undrafted player. However, these five guys have made it, and they’re now giving their counterparts some gleam of hope.
The 6-foot-9 went undrafted in 2017. However, that didn’t deter Boucher, as he continued working hard and made himself a name in 2018/19. He got chosen as the first G League MVP and Defensive Player of the year.
Boucher is currently playing for the Toronto Raptors and is a part-time starter who has given remarkable numbers this season.
He’s one of Raptor’s best rebounders and rim protectors, averaging 13.5 points, 1.9 blocks per game, and 6.5 rebounds. Chris is shooting 38.3 % from beyond the arc, and 51.7 percent from the field, in 23.7 minutes per game only.
Boucher leads in Raptors win shares with 5.6, higher than the team’s stars like Fred VanVleet (3.8) and Pascal Siakam (3.9). And his first milestone on April 88 came by setting a new career-high with 38 points with 19 rebounds. The 28-year-old is unstoppable, and he’s a candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, as his among the best undrafted NBA players today.
Ingles is an Australian NBA player who has spent his entire adult life playing basketball worldwide. He played for the Australian Institute of Sport starting from 2005-2006. Later, he signed with the South Dragon’s-National Basketball League, the top professional league in Australia and New Zealand.
Joe went undrafted in 2009, and at the same time, he helped the Dragons to the NBL championship for that season. This Australian also played in the Summer Olympics for the Australian national team from 2008, 2012, and 2016. Ingles played for FC Barcelona in 2010-13, and Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2013-2014. Later he signed with the LA Clippers in 2014, but just before the end of the season, they waived him. That’s when the Jazz claimed him. Since then, he has stayed with the Utah Jazz for the longest.
This 33-year-old is now in his seventh year, and the sky’s the limit for him, as he continues being as efficient and dangerous as ever. Joe is shooting 52.1% from the field and has fallen to the second position in the league in 3-point accuracy at 48.7%.
While playing alongside Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, who are pretty significant players in the league-leading Utah Jazz, this superstar, an active undrafted NBA player, still averages 4.2 assists per contest.
Ingles has become one of the best undrafted NBA players and top 3-point shooters in franchise history. As a result, he has attracted many fans, becoming a favorite for many, who played more than 300 games consecutively. And that’s the current longest streak in the NBA.
Despite going undrafted in 2015, and spending three seasons with UNLV, Christian Woods rebounded around the D-League. And there, he played with the Delaware 87ers, Wisconsin Herd, and Greensboro Swarm. Finally, Wood found himself a consistent team and got on an NBA roster in 2019. The New Orleans Hornets waived Wood during that summer, but this led to a contract from the Detroit Pistons.
And today, he’s one of the best undrafted NBA players and the top youngest big men in the National Basketball Association. The 25-year-old currently playing center for Houston Rockets has made a name for himself as he’s in line to become the season’s Most Improved Player. That’s after averaging 13.1 points per contest last year.
Woods has proved to be a great player this year, with 21.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game, and shooting a decent 37.5% from three. Most likely, Christian could have challenged for an All-Star spot in March if it wasn’t for the ankle sprains he endured earlier in the season.
Houston Rockets is the sixth team that Woods has been playing for the last five years, where he seems to be quite comfortable.
Even after averaging 16.9 points per game in eight games, the New Orleans Hornets waived Woods in that summer. Luckily, he got a new contract from the Detroit Pistons.
It was after four years of playing at Wichita State that the 6-foot-1 Fred went undrafted in 2016. And VanVleet is the reason why the Toronto Raptors wanted to give up Kyle Lowry (franchise player) at the NBA trade deadline to other teams. And since Fred got signed by the Raptors in 2016, he has continued to move up the rotation yearly, which has made him a regular starter in his backcourt this season alongside Lowry. He now averages 19.8 career highs and 4.2 rebounds per game.
VanVeet got in serious contention for the NBA All-Star Game 2021 after getting better and showing improvement in his play. The 27-year-old set career-highs of 54 points and 113-points against the Orlando Magic on February 22.
These total points set Fred’s new franchise record for having the most points in a game. And it’s his eight threes that he acquired before halftime that were the most-ever in the first half for a Raptors player. Vleet made NBA history for giving the most points set by one of the best NBA undrafted players. That shattered the 53 records set by former MVP Moses Malone.
VanVleet signed a four-year contract of $85 million with the Raptors, setting a record for the most guaranteed money for an undrafted player. And on January 66, 2021, Fred made a franchise record after scoring a three-pointer in 39 straight games. Then, on February 22, VanVleet set a franchise record for 54 points while playing against the Orlando Magic.
O’Neale had travelled around the world before settling to play in the NBA Sports. He played for Baylor after a transfer from Denver, where he spent his college career. After his sophomore season, while he was there, he got named the Third Team All-WAC. He also got named to the Academic All-Big 12 Second Team, which happened after his senior season.
Royce went undrafted in 2015 but started his first professional season career in Germany for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, making him one of the best NBA undrafted players. Though Royce had a stint with the Golden State Warriors Summer League team, he didn’t make the cut, signing with the Herbalife Gran Canaria-a Spanish team. Still, he played for the Warriors in 2016 while following that with a stint in Lithuania in the 2017 season.
It’s in the same year that the 6-foot-6 forward from Killeen, Texas caught his big break while trying out for the Utah Jazz’s Summer League squad. O’Neale has been a key player for Utah in the first two seasons, and he has started each game of the season for the Jazz, playing for their top-5 defense. Currently, Royce averages 7.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and in the past two years, O’Neale has appeared in 151 regular-season games with Utah.
In Conclusion, all the five mentioned above are some of the best undrafted NBA players still active in the league. And looking at their journey and where they are today, they give hope to the past and the future undrafted players. They, too, can now be hopeful of playing in the NBA roster someday.