More than 80 rookies suited up in the NBA last season.
A quarter of them (21) went undrafted.
That’s more than the 19 who were selected in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft and went on to play in the league.
Just because Johnathan Motley’s name wasn’t called inside Barclays Arena in Brooklyn during Thursday night’s 2017 NBA Draft doesn’t mean his professional dreams are over.
Remember the dynamic backcourt duo that made Wichita State so good over the past few years?
Neither Fred VanVleet nor Ron Baker were drafted.
But both ended up on a team last season – VanVleet with the Toronto Raptors and Baker with the New York Knicks.
VanVleet had to beat out six guys competing for one free roster spot. He was signed to a multi-year deal, averaged 7.9 minutes in 37 games played. When VanVleet went down to Raptors 905 – the NBA team’s D-league affiliate – he helped win the championship (alongside former Baylor Bear Brady Heslip).
Baker got even better as the season went on. In 52 games off the bench, he averaged 4.1 points to go with 2.1 assists in 16.5 minutes per contest.
Then there’s Yogi Ferrell.
Rewind back to late January when he signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks after being cut by the Brooklyn Nets.
Through his first four games as the Mavs starting point guard, Ferrell averaged 17.8 points and five assists.
He finished averaging 10 points with 3.7 assists in 26 minutes per contest for Dallas.
When opportunity knocked, didn’t merely crack the door open.
He took it off its hinges.
There’s a good chance he’ll have to fight all over again for a roster spot after the Mavs selected Dennis Smith with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
And Motley could be working right there with him.
In a radio interview Friday morning with 103.3 FM ESPN Dallas, Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson said that Dallas is very high on Motley.
“Being right down the road with Scott Drew and the amazing job he does down there, let’s just say that we’re on it,” Nelson said.
He went on to say in the interview that, “we’ve been in contact and are hopeful and fairly optimistic we can make something happen there.”
Motley was projected to be selected anywhere from late first round to early in the second.
Around the time of the NBA Combine in May, Motley wasn’t expected to even drop to the second round, especially after putting together a junior season with 17.3 points per contest as he led the Big 12 with 9.9 boards per contest.
Motley improved every season at Baylor. After averaging 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds as a redshirt freshman, his numbers jumped to 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
But Motley didn’t drop to the second round. His name wasn’t even called.
It was reportedly a knee injury that caused Motley to fall.
The forward underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in early April.
In an interview with the Trib’s John Werner, Motley said he was 100 percent healthy following the surgery.
He worked out for 13 NBA teams in recent weeks including Miami, Toronto, Indiana, Atlanta, Utah, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers and several others.