NBA draft: The best players who didn’t hear their names called

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BROOKLYN — The NBA draft is over, and as usual, there are some notable names who went unpicked. For some, the disappointment will sting, but teams always fill out their summer league rosters and throw darts on guys they liked during the evaluation process. The ability to negotiate their own contract terms as opposed to being paid at slot value can be a huge positive for guys who take advantage of opportunity.

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the top players who went undrafted on Thursday, including the eight guys left on SI’s Big Board (52 of our top 60 guys were picked). Some reportedly have deals with teams already, and the others shouldn’t be far behind.

Gary Payton II, Oregon State

Big Board: 42

Payton is reportedly bound for the Rockets as an undrafted free agent.  The son of the Sonics great Gary Payton profiles as a defensive specialist and could conceivably stick on a roster. The missing piece is his jump shot, which is likely a big part of what sank his stock.

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Robert Carter Jr., Maryland

Big Board: 43

After garnering a little bit of hype as a second-round pick, Carter slipped out of the draft and has reportedly signed with the Warriors. He’s got a versatile, polished offensive game, is able to hit a three and score in the post, but he’s undersized for a four-man and has a lot of trouble defending. He has a chance and could be a fit with Golden State.

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Prince Ibeh, Texas

Big Board: 54

Nobody rolled the dice on Ibeh, who’s got immense physical attributes but doesn’t have much of an offensive game at all. As a college senior still learning a lot of concepts, his upside is somewhat limited, but if you can teach him to play defense, that 9′ 4″ standing reach and 7′ 5″ wingspan will do the talking. 

Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida

Big Board: 55

Finney-Smith could still be a nice glue guy for somebody on the wing. With his toughness, size and length, he could play both forward positions. He’s not an awful shooter, either. He is what he is, in a sense, but that could be enough to crack a roster next season.

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Cat Barber, NC State

Big Board: 57

Barber will play summer league with the Pelicans, according to reports. He’s quick off the bounce and can really score the basketball, so it’s easy to see him contributing off somebody’s bench. That said, he’s turnover-prone and will have to prove there’s more to his game. There are a lot of ways to plug him in and play a backup point guard.

Wayne Selden, Kansas

Big Board: 58

Even as a junior, Selden was a bit more of an athlete than basketball player, and while his skills have improved, it wasn’t enough to sell anyone. He should be able to guard multiple positions, but it’s not quite clear how he’s going to score. He’s not a great shooter or decision-maker.

Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa

Big Board: 59

Uthoff is an elite perimeter shooter with good size and was able to score effectively from the elbows in college, too. He’s 23 and doesn’t have a skill set much more diverse than that. His lack of athleticism suggests he may not be expanding his impact either, so you’re looking at a spot-up guy.

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A.J. English, Iona

Big Board: 60

English is about to turn 24 but was highly productive in college. He has deep range and a pretty well-rounded game, but is an undersized two and not quite the ballhandler to run point in the NBA. His father played in the NBA and his statistical output and Portsmouth MVP title will get him invited to Summer League. He will have to take the long road, again.

Sheldon McClellan, Miami

Big Board: N/A

McClellan can really score and will reportedly sign a partially guaranteed deal with the Wizards. He’s athletic and has good size at shooting guard. He struggles defensively and is going to have to prove himself there. He can be a bit too flashy sometimes, as well. There’s some upside, but he’s 23.

Ron Baker, Wichita State

Big Board: N/A

Baker is a tough, well-rounded guard who can shoot and reportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the Knicks, who added Cleanthony Early from Wichita State in the 2014 draft. He’s experienced and should have a chance to make the roster given New York’s situation. He’s an overachiever and will have to keep overachieving, given that he lacks typical NBA-level athletic tools.

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