The NBA’s Newest Players (and how they got here)

The NBA’s Newest Players (and how they got here)
Oct 30, 2007, 01:43 am
The NBA’s Newest Players (and how they got here)

NBA teams submitted their rosters for the 2007-08 regular season today, giving us a chance to take a look at some of the new names that have made the league through the front or the back door. What this list does more than anything is reiterate the fact that there are many ways to make the NBA, and that just because a player goes undrafted, doesn’t mean that he can’t still play in the league eventually. Let’s take a deeper look.

Complete List of 2007-08 Opening Day Rosters

Available Roster Spots: 450 (30 teams X 15 max roster spots)
Roster Spots Occupied: 439 (8 teams not full)

Amount of Rookie NBA Players, by Team:

Atlanta: 3 (draft picks + Mario West)
Boston: 3 (draft picks + Brandon Wallace)
Charlotte: 2 (draft picks)
Chicago: 4 (draft picks + Thomas Gardner)
Cleveland: 2 (draft picks + Anthony Tolliver)
Dallas: 1 (draft pick)
Denver: 0
Detroit: 3 (draft picks + former draft pick Cheick Samb)
Golden State: 4 (draft picks + former draft pick Kosta Perovic)
Houston: 3 (draft picks + former draft pick Luis Scola)
Indiana: 1 (Courtney Sims)
L.A. Clippers: 1 (draft pick)
L.A. Lakers 2 (draft pick + Coby Karl)
Memphis: 2 (draft pick + former draft pick Juan Carlos Navarro)
Miami: 2 (draft pick + Joel Anthony)
Milwaukee: 2 (draft picks)
Minnesota: 2 (draft picks)
New Jersey: 1 (draft pick)
New Orleans: 1 (draft pick)
New York: 1 (draft pick)
Orlando: 1 (former draft pick Marcin Gortat)
Philadelphia: 3 (draft picks)
Phoenix: 2 (draft picks)
Portland: 3 (draft picks)
Sacramento: 3 (draft pick+Darryl Watkins+Mustafa Shakur)
San Antonio: 1 (Darius Washington)
Seattle: 2 (draft picks)
Toronto: 1 (Jamario Moon)
Utah: 2 (draft picks)
Washington: 3 (draft picks + former draft pick Oleksiy Pecherov)
Total: 61

Undrafted Rookie Free Agents: 8

Darryl Watkins- 6-11 athletic marvel with legit shot-blocking skills. Lacks serious offensive polish, and doesn't always play as tough and aggressive as he looks.

Mustafa Shakur- Top high school recruit underachieved badly at Arizona with a four year roller coaster, but still has plenty of upside thanks to his physical tools and natural instincts.

Courtney Sims- Athletic center with good size and poor offensive skills. Always considered soft and somewhat of an underachiever after never making NCAA tournament.

Joel Anthony- Left-handed shot-blocker who is still learning the game at age 25. Only played 18 minutes a game as a senior.

Coby Karl- Son of Denver Head coach George Karl. Combo guard with a superb feel for the game, excellent perimeter shooting skills, and nice passing ability. Average athlete who impressed mightily in NBA pre-draft camp and summer league. Perfect fit for triangle offense.

Anthony Tolliver- 6-9 big man who can rebound and knock down 3-pointers. Average athlete, but an very intelligent player.

Brandon Wallace - Skinny, but athletic power forward who is attempting to make the transition to the 3. Solid rebounder and shot-blocker.

Mario West- Former walk-on at Georgia Tech, averaged less than 5 points per game as a senior. Defensive oriented hustling type. Severely limited offensively. The Atlanta Hawks strike again.

-Making the NBA as an undrafted free rookie straight out of college is a difficult task. For comparison, last year, 9 players accomplished that feat, while the year before, 15 did. The real test might be, how many of them stick? Let’s take a look:

2006-07 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents on Opening Day Rosters

Cedric Bozeman
Allan Ray
Jose Juan Barea*
Pops Mensah-Bonsu
Tarence Kinsey*
Chris Quinn*
Robert Hite
Chris McCray
Steven Smith

-As you can see by the ones marked with an asterisk, only three players from that class of undrafted rookies in 06-07 are still in the league one year later. For comparison, let’s take a look at the year before:

2005-06 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents on Opening Day Rosters:

Esteban Batista (international, undrafted in draft-eligible year as 1983 born prospect)
Alan Anderson
Eddie Basden
Rawle Marshall
Aaron Miles
Devin Green
Anthony Roberson
Matt Walsh
Sean Banks
Deng Gai
Shavlik Randolph*
Lucas Tischer (international, undrafted in draft-eligible year as 1983 born prospect)
Ronnie Price*
Andre Owens*
Donell Taylor

-This class has fared similarly thus far. 3 of the 15 are still in the NBA. Players still in the league as of today are again marked with an asterisk. Ronne Price has secured himself a multi-year contract for above the minimum.

Making the NBA as an undrafted free agent straight out of college isn’t the only way to make the league, though. Some players don’t stick after making the NBA initially out of college, but end up returning States-side after a year or two of seasoning overseas.

Returning free agents from overseas:

Kareem Rush- Played in Lithuania for Lietuvos Rytas
Casey Jacobsen- Played in Germany for Bamberg
Awvee Storey- Played in Germany for Braunschweig
Ryan Bowen- Played briefly in Israel for Nahariya
Darius Washington- Played in Greece with PAOK and Czech Republic with Nymburk

Rookie free agents from overseas:

Jamario Moon- Played in CBA and briefly in Mexico
Thomas Gardner- Played in Belgium with Verviers Pepinster

Returning free agents from D-League:

Andre Owens
Stephen Graham

Returning from Retirement:

Penny Hardaway

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