Here are three advantages an undrafted free agent has for teams and themselves:
It’s a low risk way for teams to acquire talent
This is an amazing situation for the Wizards. What if these guys don’t pan out, there is a reason why they weren’t drafted. They can be cut easily, and it’s not costing them a pick. If these players do pan out, the Wizards are also getting bang for your buck as these players begin their careers.
So far they’ve only signed five UDFA’s, which include:
- Michael Young: Pittsburgh
- Isaac Humphries: Kentucky
- Marcus Keene: Central Michigan
- Kris Jenkins: Villanova
- Devin Robinson: Florida
Those are five guys that teams may need on there roster come the season, it’s a very talented group of UDFA’s that the Wizards won’t shy away from. The Wizards will give them there shot in the summer league, the good ones will stay for camp, the ones that struggle will go. Wizards aren’t losing anything out of it.
There isn’t much of a difference between the 52nd pick and an undrafted free agent
There are only two players drafted in the 50’s in recent memory and hit it big:
Isaiah Thomas and Manu Ginobili.
Most players drafted in the 50’s won’t have long NBA careers, if they make the league at all. That’s not much better than an undrafted free agent’s chances. So you can rest a little easier about Washington missing out on the next Ginobili or Thomas.
They received an experienced NBA point guard in Tim Frazier who would pan out better than most 52nd picks. Ernie Grunfeld is also not a particularly great drafter, but a decent trader. Given where the Wizards are right now in their team building process, it makes sense to trade for players who can win right now.
Players can play for a team and system that fits their skill set
Drafted players are obligated to play for the team that owns their rights. When someone is a late draft pick, he may be going to a team that is successful. Or he may go to a team that doesn’t have enough playing time available for him. The bottom line is that drafted players have little say over where they go to start their careers.
With undrafted free agents, the free agent has an opportunity to start their careers at any team willing to give them a chance. Yes, the road will be more difficult to make and play significant minutes on a roster than it is for a first round pick. However, if the player goes to the right organization that fits his style, he has a better chance of thriving long term.
Furthermore, if an undrafted free agent makes a roster and “outplays” his draft position, he could get a large salary increase sooner than lottery picks can. That’s how now-Nets guard Jeremy Lin was able to get his first multi-million dollar deal right after his second NBA season in 2011-12.