Just because BYU big man Eric Mika didn’t get drafted on Thursday night doesn’t mean the NBA dream is over.
In fact, his path to the league is just beginning.
Mika’s choice to forego his final two years of eligibility in Provo looks like a bad decision on the surface, but it just may have been the perfect year to come out. After all, each NBA team has two extra roster spots to fill this year thanks to the new two-way deals that allow players to develop in the G-League while still holding their NBA rights. That’s 60 more chances to find a deal with an NBA club.
He has already found a home for the summer with the Miami Heat, who have been known in recent years for taking undrafted free agents – like Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder – and turning them into viable NBA players
And if that avenue doesn’t materialize, there is always the G-League route to hone his skills and hopefully develop enough of an outside game to catch the eye of NBA executives.
There has been the question of his advanced age – like 22 is old or something – limiting his chances. While that may have kept him from getting drafted, there is no way it will keep him from finding a roster spot, if he is good enough.
Just look at Pablo Prigioni as an example. After going undrafted in 1999, he spent more than a decade playing at a high level in Europe before signing a deal with the New York Knicks, at age 35.
By eclectico63 (Flickr: Knicks vs Wizards) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
He latest four years in the league, where he averaged 3.5 points and 2.8 assists in 270 before going back to Europe for one final year as a player before calling it a career.
Proof that his age didn’t matter, his skill level did.
Speaking of Europe, that’s another great place for Mika to improve his game while still collecting a nice paycheck. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars available for best players on the top teams in Spain, Italy, Russia and China.
It was a path that worked for another Lone Peak star, Justin Hamilton.
By Steve Fry, GoIowaState.com [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
After spending a couple of years bouncing between the NBA and the D-League, Hamilton signed a deal to play in Spain in 2015. It turned out to be a fantastic move for his NBA prospects as he turned a great year in Valencia into a two-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
Whether Mika finds a roster spot this season or he has to take the G-League or European route to reach his dreams, there will always be opportunities to find an NBA roster spot if he has the talent.