After being overlooked in the NBA Draft on June 25th, Chasson Randle decided to ink a deal with the club down the road. He'll be showing off his handle for the Golden State Warriors' Summer League squad this summer. The Warriors' summer session kicks off on July 10th against, appropriately, the team they just vanquished in the Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Summer League route had been expected, if Randle's projected position in the SB Nation-generated consensus mock draft served as any indication. Randle was listed as the 70th most preferred draft-eligible player, i.e. 10 slots below the lowest pick in the draft. Between Randle and new Los Angeles Laker Anthony Brown, the former was always the dicier League prospect. And that's okay, there is still a big opportunity looming for him this summer with the Warriors, where he can fight for a roster spot. Every team partakes in the Summer League, and every un-drafted player is up for grabs when Summer League disperses.. There is a blueprint for un-drafted players achieving success in the L, proving that whatever reason teams overlooked them was weighed too heavily against their other qualities. There have been a LOT of notable NBA players who weren't drafted. This includes All-Stars like Ben Wallace and Brad Miller, and big-time rotation guys like Timofey Mozgov, Jeremy Lin, C.J. Watson, Anthony Morrow, Chuck Hayes, J.J. Barea, Raja Bell, Andres Nocioni, Chris Andersen, Avery Johnson, the immortal Wesley Johnson (relax, I'm kidding -- still though, he's played way more than a bunch of dudes who were actually drafted), and John Starks. Missing the cut in the draft is not a death sentence.
The big elements working against Randle were his teams' mediocre record in the NCAA (just one tourney appearance in four seasons, although the Cardinal did make it to the Sweet Sixteen in Randle's junior year); his status as a 4-year player; and his lack of a clear position. After entering Stanford as a 2, Randle transitioned to a scoring point guard role during his two upperclassman seasons. At just 6'2" and 185 lbs., he's short for an NBA shooting guard, but isn't known for his handle, averaging just 2.1 and 3 assists during his two seasons running the point. This obviously hurts his candidacy as an NBA-level point guard (although he did showcase some passing ability in winning the NIT MVP). His crazy 6'7" wingspan, though, should bode well for him in league.
The muted league-wide interest in Randle always seems strange to me. He is the Cardinal's all-time leading scorer (2,375 -- good for third in all-time Pac-8/10/12 history) and was the MVP of this year's NIT champs. He made watch lists for the Naismith College Player of the Year Award and the Bob Cousy Award (honoring the country's best college point guard), and was a top-25 Wooden Award finalist. Plus, Randle had a very successful showing in the NBA Draft Combine last month. His athleticism and potential were on clear display as he tallied an elite 39.5" maximum vertical leap, that 6'7" measured wingspan, a 3.20-second 3/4 sprint, and a 10.61-second lane agility drill finish (the 2nd best finish for a point guard). The lane agility drill works to measure aptitude and quickness in lateral movement.
Is success at Stanford always a predictor of NBA longevity? Nope. The #2 all-time Stanford leader in scoring (2,336), 6'4" shooting guard Todd Lichti, lasted all of five years in the L, jumping around between four teams during that time. Lichti actually had a decent rookie season (averaging 8.0 points a game), got hurt in a car wreck during the offseason (his fiancee fell asleep behind the wheel, she sadly did not survive her injuries), recovered, and was a starter for Denver during his second year. A knee injury sidelined him over the last 53 games of that 1990-91 season, and he was never the same player. So you could call him a victim of genetic and circumstance, in addition to just plain miserable luck. Point being, he was kind of snake-bit as a pro, so I'd throw out his lack of success as any kind of predictor for what will happen to Chasson Randle in the NBA.
A big thing working in Randle's favor? He was the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year (Stanford's own Dwight Powell actually nabbed this honor last year, and seems to have a future in the league as a back-up center), boasting a 3.34 GPA. As an Academic All-America First-Team selection (Stanford's first since Dan Grunfeld in 2006), Randle has exhibited two great off-court skill sets that should endear him to NBA teams: intelligence and discipline. If you think juggling a college basketball player's rigorous schedule with a full course load and actually obliterating both arenas isn't an extremely demanding task that demands both those abilities, you've never read this article. Teams typically undervalue more intangible player components when they draft, so these traits fall exactly in line as the kind of thing that could have been ignored last night.
At the end of the day, ruminating on why Chasson Randle wasn't given his due for one Brooklyn night in June is fairly meaningless. To get to the NBA, he faces a long, uphill road ahead of him this summer, but he'll get to traverse it under the sure-handed stewardship of a championship-caliber coaching and front office culture. Clearly the Steve Kerr/Jerry West/Bob Meyers/Ron Adams brain trust sees at least a flash of something in Randle that appeals to them, and with Leandro Barbosa entering his 13th season in the fall, the Warriors could certainly use a nice, quick off-guard as his understudy.