BYU all-time scoring leader Tyler Haws didn't hear his name called by an NBA team at last Thursday's draft, but that doesn't mean his quest to claim a spot in the world's top league is over.
Like many undrafted rookies, Haws will look to showcase his skills for all 30 front offices by competing in the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas, from July 10-20. The Cougar legend confirmed on Monday that he would be playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the 11-day, 67-game event.
It's not particularly surprising that the Cavaliers would give Haws a shot. After all, they've already struck gold (or, if not gold, at least a really fun quartz) once by taking a chance on Matthew Dellavedova, another guard who went undrafted after a stellar playing career in the West Coast Conference. That worked out pretty well for Cleveland, all things considered, so why not take another flyer on a player of a similar profile and accomplishment?
However, it's important to remember that this isn't just about Haws and the Cavaliers — it's about the other 29 teams, too. Although Tyler will be putting on a wine and gold jersey for Summer League, that doesn't mean he's necessarily beholden to that franchise (or vice versa).
Most likely, he has a very short-term contract that only obligates him to join their team for the July exhibition, which means he'll also be courting every other GM present at Summer League with his play. Ultimately, he wants somebody to give him a training camp invite and a nonguaranteed contract. That might be the Cavaliers (and their front office staff will certainly have the best look at him), but it could also come from any other NBA team who likes what they see. So Haws needs to prove himself on the court — but he really only needs to convince one team to buy.
This isn't an unfamiliar situation for former Cougars. Brandon Davies tread the same path as an undrafted free agent a few years ago. He latched on with the Los Angeles Clippers for Summer League, eventually securing a camp invite and nonguaranteed contract after performing well in Las Vegas. Davies attended the Clippers' fall camp, but was waived before making the final roster. However, he was able to land a permanent spot with the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers, who were impressed with what they had seen from him in the desert and were looking to round out their young roster.
Haws is hoping to follow a similar trajectory (although he would undoubtedly like to avoid being cut in training camp). He'll go to Vegas, play for the Cavs, and hope to play well enough that someone offers him an invite to their training camp, where he'll again try to prove that he belongs on an NBA roster.
It's a grueling, high-pressure process — and one where the likelihood of failure is much higher than success, based on numbers alone. With only 450 total jobs available in the world's top league, and so many young hopefuls simultaneously jockeying to grab an even smaller number of available spots, the competition is fierce.
But it can be done. Dellavedova proved that, as did Davies. Tyler Haws is a great basketball player, and he has at least one elite skill (scoring like a banshee) that could be exceptionally marketable to an NBA team with the right need. Now he's just got to go out and prove he can be the guy to fill that hole.
And even if he fails, Haws' backup plan — a guaranteed spot with a solid team in Spain's top division, which is undoubtedly the second best domestic league in the world — isn't a bad option to fall back on. In fact, it's pretty awesome in its own right.
It appears Tyler Haws will be playing with house money in Vegas this July.