Brandon Davies didn't hear his name called from the podium at Thursday's NBA Draft, but that doesn't mean his dream is over. At least not yet.
Despite some talk that he could be a late-second round pick, Davies ultimately went undrafted — along with fellow WCC stars Elias Harris and Matthew Dellavedova, among other notable names. It was certainly a disappointment to Brandon and to Cougar fans, and that's completely understandable.
As a player, you grow up dreaming of hearing David Stern or Adam Silver reading your name in New York. Being drafted is a sign that you've made it, that a professional basketball team really valued you and thought you could make them better. You can't fault a player for wanting that moment. And as a fan, you want that moment for a guy like Davies, who has played so hard and sacrificed so much for BYU over the last four years. We want him to achieve his dreams.
Unfortunately, it didn't pan out that way. But last night wasn't the end of the road for Davies' NBA hopes. When all is said and done, it could be just a small blip on his path.
In a way, going undrafted has distinct advantages over being picked late in the second round. If a player is drafted, the team that picked him owns his rights. There's no choice involved for the player — it doesn't matter if that team's system doesn't fit your skills or has too many other players at your position, they essentially own you. (Ask Jimmer Fredette about this concept.) And that may be fine if the player had a guaranteed contract and guaranteed roster slot, but no such guarantee exists for second round picks. They can be cut at any time and are paid very little under the NBA's rookie salary scale. Being drafted gives you the big moment you've always dreamed of, but it drastically limits your choices.
Contrast that with Davies' situation as an undrafted free agent. He is free to negotiate with any team he wants. His agent can negotiate a contract if there is interest, or he can find a team that's interested in having Brandon on their summer league team as an audition. Either way, the player is free to find the situation that best fits his skill set and gives him the best opportunity to succeed. If you find the right team and play well in the summer, you may just work yourself onto an NBA roster in the fall.
Davies and his representatives seem to have taken advantage of this flexibility:
Undrafted free agent Brandon Davies will play with the Los Angeles Clippers' summer league team.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 28, 2013
The Clippers offer a great opportunity for Brandon. Their current roster is very light at the power forward and center positions — outside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, their bigs are all pretty uninspiring career journeymen. New head coach Doc Rivers, who certainly isn't known for playing smallball, could be looking to add more youth and depth in the frontcourt, which provides Davies with the perfect chance to at least earn himself an invite to training camp through strong summer play. The opening is there.
Now, there's certainly risk involved here as well. Teams don't feel as much commitment to an undrafted guy as they do to a player they spent a draft pick on. Brandon will have to work really hard and play really well to be invited to training camp and have a shot at a contract — and if he doesn't, then he'll be destined for Europe. But at least he'll have the chance to give it a shot, and because he went undrafted, he'll now be able to do so in a situation that provides an ideal fit for his talents.
Fear not, Cougar fans. Brandon Davies' dream is still very much alive — he's just going to have to work a little bit harder to achieve it.