The dream of every NBA hopeful is to finish his collegiate career, train hard in April and May, have a string of strong June pre-draft workouts, build buzz and eventually hear his name called by David Stern (or Adam Silver) on the final Thursday of June at the NBA draft. In their wildest dreams, they are first-round picks, with a guaranteed rookie deal for two years and two extra team options, a contract that brings wealth and also signifies a commitment from an NBA franchise toward their development, which is critical to having a long career in the league.
But it doesn't always work out this way. The vast majority of top amateur performers don't hear their names called by the commissioner or deputy commissioner. Rather, they get a phone call from their agent, informing them that they have a summer league offer to join a team. The hope is to get into a situation where they can show their work ethic and talent, get playing time in front of team executives and latch onto an NBA club. In 2009, Wesley Matthews turned exactly that type of opportunity into a training camp invite, which turned into a partially guaranteed one-year deal, which turned into a rookie campaign that was so strong it resulted in a five-year, $34 million contract.
Here are five players who entered this summer with Matthews-type dreams of proving to the world that NBA teams were wrong to pass on them in the draft and have the chance to stick on NBA rosters this season.