Despite most hoops fans overlooking it, the NBA preseason is a huge time for unsigned players that have NBA aspirations. That’s due to the preseason arguably being the best chance that those players have to compete against elite level competition in front of NBA executives from all over the league. Great preseason performances can be enough to push those players from looking at possible overseas deals to actually landing on an NBA roster for the regular season.
One prime example of that is seen with current Philadelphia 76ers hopeful Brandon Paul. After not getting picked in the 2013 NBA Draft, Paul spent the last three seasons going back and forth between the D-League and different European teams. Paul had plenty of success in both ventures, especially in the D-League with the Canton Charge.
During his 2014-15 stint with the Charge, Paul averaged 15.1 points, 4.4 boards and 1.8 assists per game on 47% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. Those averages allowed Paul to be one of the more efficient guards in the entire D-League as he maintained a 61% True Shooting Percentage.
Although Paul wasn’t able to maintain that level of efficiency in Europe, he still stood as a very solid role player. In the season following his Canton stint, Paul transferred over to Spain to play with Juventut Badalona of the Spanish ACB league. With that squad, Paul impressed by averaging 13.1 points, 1.4 assists and 1 steal per game on 39% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc in 23 minutes per game.
Whether he’s playing in Canton or Spain, Paul has continuously shown himself to be an effective perimeter no matter where he is. That consistent outside jumper was likely the biggest reason behind the Philadelphia 76ers signed Paul to a partially-guaranteed deal during the summer. Although that deal was initially meant for the organization to hold his D-League rights, Paul might have an opportunity to start the season on the 76ers roster.
That optimism is due to Brandon Paul having a tremendous performance in the 76ers preseason debut against the Celtics. Despite not starting and only playing 13 minutes, Paul had a game-high 15 points on 6-10 from the field (2-4 from beyond the arc) to coincide with 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
During that short 13-minute stint, Paul just looked like a player willing to do anything that he physically can to make an NBA roster. Paul looked like a man on a mission during that Celtics game, as he looked aggressive on both ends of the court. Defensively, Paul was an absolute pest as he used his long 6’10 wingspan to force turnovers. On the other end of the floor, Paul combined his patented perimeter jumper with an ability to create his own shot through smooth ball-handling.
Although there’s still a handful of preseason games left, Paul might’ve already established himself as somebody that can make the opening day roster. When you compare him to fellow Sixers guard Nik Stauskas, Paul might stand as a more appealing player. That is due to Paul being a more versatile player that can combine solid on-ball defense and smooth handles with a consistent perimeter jumper. In comparison, Nik Stauskas doesn’t really can’t match those skills despite being a former lottery pick.
While we’re still a few weeks away from the start of the NBA season, it looks like Brandon Paul might be on his way towards being another NBA D-League success story.