Last season, Raphiael Putney broke into the NBA D-League as a local tryout player. Going from a relatively unknown product to a household name can be a difficult and sometimes trying process. Thus, minutes were sometimes hard to come by for the young gun. Nevertheless, he proved to be an ever efficient player, averaging 6.3 points on 49% from the field and 2.5 rebounds in just under ten minutes per contest. He appeared sparingly, hitting the hardwood in just 24 games.
He certainly gained favor in Rio Grande Valley, and as a result, has hit the ground running while receiving ample opportunity as a returning player. One thing the 25 year old does not lack is confidence. Putney is very assertive and isn't afraid to take it to the hole and/or challenge opposing defenders around the basket. He can put the ball on the floor around the basket, pump-fake, and/or fade away to hit a mid-range jumper. His defensive instincts still need work, but if his awareness on the offensive end and relative reaction time is any indication, he has the potential to continue improving with a high basketball IQ and an even more energized motor.
The Vipers are off to a strong start as one of the minor league's strongest teams at 4-2 thus far. Putney is largely to thank, and this past week, he only continued his hot streak. Leading RGV to a 2-1 record from November 22nd through November 28th, the forward posted averages of 21.6 points (on 51% from the field and 33% from deep), 10.7 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game.
For his latest efforts, Putney has earned the honor of being named RidiculousUpside.com's first Top Prospect of the Week for the 2015-16 season.
He was all over the place, but in this case, that's by no means a bad thing. Having such a versatile weapon on offense is huge for RGV, and his elevated defensive effort didn't hurt this week, either. It'll be interesting to see if he can keep up the same level of productivity and efficiency, all while leading the Vipers to more success.