There Is No "Wesley Matthews Route"

Win McNamee

Yesterday was the NBA Draft. Today, Vander Blue's professional future is uncertain, and will likely remain that way for a while.

If you were keeping tabs on various mock drafts over the last week, you weren't surprised to see the 60 picks of the 2013 NBA Draft come and go without hearing Vander Blue's name get called. This morning, we found out from the Twitter account for Memphis' Chris Vernon Show that Blue will be playing for the Grizzlies in summer league. But while that's a great opportunity for Blue to give NBA teams another opportunity to see what he can do, it doesn't mean anything more than playing a week's worth of summer league games.

I've seen a lot of discussion in various corners of the internet saying that Vander will be fine if he doesn't get drafted because he can follow the same path that Wes Mathews took to the NBA. Unfortunately, that path doesn't really exist. Yes, Matthews made it that way, but it was a complete surprise that it managed to happen back in 2009-2010. Let's recap what exactly happened with Matthews:

1) He goes undrafted, but invited to play summer league with both the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings.

2) Matthews impresses the Jazz enough during summer league that he gets invited to training camp.

3) He has a good enough training camp to not only earn a spot on the roster, but actually convinces head coach Jerry Sloan to give him minutes in every game.

4) Either for personnel or financial reasons, the Jazz end up trading away their first round pick, Eric Maynor, and eventually trade away their starting shooting guard, Ronnie Brewer, paving the way for Matthews to become the starting shooting guard for the Jazz. The Jazz were well over .500 at the time, and easily make the playoffs and advance to the second round.

Read that again. How likely is it for an undrafted free agent to get a training camp invitation, much less make the team, crack the rotation, or even earn a starting spot? And that was for a GOOD team. This is not something that happens on a regular basis in the NBA. Hell, it probably shouldn't have happened to Matthews.

Am I saying there's no chance for Vander and that he should give up immediately? Of course not. But it's an exercise in futility to expect that the Grizzlies, a team that has 10 players under contract already for next season, will definitely include Blue on their roster. It's made even more unlikely by the Grizzlies spending a second round pick on Jamaal Franklin, who happens to play the exact same position as Blue, but has the benefit of being the only Division 1 player to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals while winning the Mountain West Player Of The Year award at San Diego State.

There are other ways for Blue to make a living playing basketball, and if that's what he wants to do right now, then good for him. But right now, he's a long way from an NBA uniform for a regular season game, and it's going to take a lot of hard work and determination to get him there.

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