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2017 NBA G League Draft Review: Eastern Conference Recap

Editor Dakota Schmidt gives his recap of how the Eastern Conference squads did during the 2017 NBA G League draft.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Lakeland Magic: Maverick Rowan, Jay Wright (from Lakeland), Javier Duren, Donte McGill

For an expansion team with two affiliate players and just one two-way prospect that’s currently healthy, the draft was a crucial tool for the Lakeland Magic to build their roster. In my eyes, they did a really great job at that as they selected three prospects that could realistically fit within the team’s rotation from day 1: Maverick Rowan, Jay Wright and Javier Duren.

The 21-year-old Maverick Rowan entered this weekend’s draft as one of the more intriguing prospects due to his youth and overall skill-set. Standing as a 6’7 wing, he established himself as a solid all-around shooter as he hit 36% of his perimeter looks, while averaging 39% on mid-range shots, according to Hoop-Math. Outside that, he’s made strides as a defender and on-ball driver. While he definitely still has room to grow, Rowan will probably be an opening night starter due to his perimeter shooting and versatility as a big wing.

Moving to their backcourt, both Jay Wright and Javier Duren both have a chance to fit in as crucial rotation pieces. Wright is an incredibly feisty 6-footer that stood as a deadly defender for Louisiana-Lafayette. As a senior, he averaged 2 steals per game which led to him the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. On the other end, Wright’s mix of handles and quicks allowed him to be a great on-ball slasher. While he just stands at 165 pounds, he shot an incredible 82% from around the rim, according to Hoop-Math.

A lot of that can be said about former Yale guard Javier Duran, who comes to Lakeland after spending two years in Europe. No matter where he played, he showed himself as a versatile guard that shines as an on-ball driver, off-the-dribble shooter, perimeter weapon and facilitator. Those traits pushed him to average 12.7 points, 5 boards, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals on 42% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc in only 24 minutes per game during the 2016-17. That came when he was playing in separate leagues in Finland and Hungry.

The last player that the Magic took was former FIU guard Donte McGill. While McGill was a fine player in college, where he averaged 18.3 points on 44% shooting as a senior, he still some room to grow. For example, he’s a below average perimeter shooter and only averaged 1.3 assists per game. While he can definitely shine as a mid-range shooter and cutter, McGill probably won’t make the team based on those flaws. However, he definitely has a future if he spends a year working on those issues in overseas play.

Grade: B+

Long Island Nets: Thomas Wimbush, Devin Carter, Buay Tuach, Shannon Scott (received from 905 for Aaron Best)

Aside from Northern Arizona taking Eric Stuteville at #1, probably the most notable story during the G League draft was the Long Island Nets selecting Thomas Wimbush with the 5th overall pick. With a plethora of well-known prospects still on the board, it was definitely surprising for Long Island to select an unknown wing that played college ball at Fairmont State.

However when you look deeper into Wimbush’s on-court play, you can definitely see why Long Island selected him. He’s an athletic 6’7 that can kill you with chase down blocks while also being able to shoot 36% from beyond the arc. While he’ll definitely have to prove himself within the Nets rotation, you can definitely see why the team decided to pick him.

With their 2nd round selections, they took guard Devin Carter from Arkansas State and forward Buay Tuach from Loyola Marymount. Both prospects could become solid role within the Nets rotation if they make the team’s roster. The 6’4 Carter is a capable on-ball driver that also shot 40% from beyond the arc during his senior season. Meanwhile, Tuach is an athletic monster that can throw down massive slams while also being able to hit 40% of his perimeter shots.

Grade: B+

Westchester Knicks: Paul Watson, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Princeton Onwas, Jordan Downing, Davon Hayes, Henry Uwadiae

To be honest, I only see two of the six players that the team selected in this draft actually making the team’s opening day roster. That’s mainly due to the team already having a solid core with their two two-ways, affiliate prospects and the players that are returning for another year in Westchester. So while Onwas may be a solid defender or Hayes might be developing into a solid 3-and-D threat, it’s unlikely that they’ll make the squad. In regards to the players that will likely make the roster, let’s take a look at Paul Watson and Hanner Mosquera-Perea

For Paul Watson, the Fresno State alum stands as a strong and 6’7 forward with an NBA body. While he doesn’t particularly excel in one particular skill set, Watson can get it done in a variety of ways from driving to the rim, perimeter shooting and being a well-rounded defender.

On the other hand, the 6’9 Mosquera-Perea is the kind of front-court player that makes his bones around the rim. As a senior at East Tennessee State, he was a solid offensive rebounder (1.6 offensive boards per game) and shot blocker (1.23 blocks). While it might be tough for him to get minutes due to the duo of Isaiah Hicks and Luke Kornet, he could definitely be a solid defensive stopper for their 2nd unit.

Grade: B-

Windy City Bulls: Mychal Mulder, Derick Newton (received from Texas), Kendal Yancy, Derrick Nix

Honestly, my thoughts on Mulder is limited as there’s not much tape on him for me to be able to get a good reading on his on-court play. After spending two years in a DII school, he moved on to play his final two years at Kentucky. After a junior year where he played a total of 90 minutes, Mulder got more time as a senior where he put up 4.7 points on 40% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. While he has shown flashes of being a solid shooter, there’s honestly not enough evidence for me to determine how good he’ll be in the G League.

On the other hand, Derick Newton should be a solid piece within the Bulls rotation. The Stetson forward actually reminds me a lot of current Jazz two-way prospect Eric Griffin with the fact that Newton is a strong perimeter shooter that can also create some memorable plays at the rim. While he may not be on the same level of Griffin on the defensive end, there’s a chance that he could be a breakout player in the G League.

Delaware 87ers: Darin Johnson, Tyshawn Abbott, Devin Gilligan, Isaiah Zierden

Heading into the G League draft, the 87ers essentially had their rotation in place with their pair of two-way players (Jacob Pullen & James McAdoo), four affiliate prospects, the returning James Webb III and former BYU stud Tyler Haws, who came to the team as a tryout prospect. While that core fits eight of the team’s ten active roster spots, there’s still some room for prospects to fill in the rotation.

In my eyes, the trio of Johnson, Abbott and Gilligan probably stand as the prospects most likely to fight for those final spots. Obviously, Johnson the most likely player due to him being selected with the 12th overall pick. During his lone season at Cal-State Northridge, he impressed by putting up 13.8 points on 46% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. Those averages pushed the 6’5 guard to maintain an impressive 60% True Shooting Percentage.

Meanwhile, Tyshawn Abbott is a veteran guard that has spent his career playing in Estonia and Italy. While it necessarily wasn’t the best European competition, he still stood as a solid player as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 40% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc in 2015-16. As someone that took last year off and hasn’t really played against the best competition, it’s going to be interesting to see if he can step up in training camp and make the team.

A sleeper candidate to make the squad would be former Southern New Hampshire forward Devin Gilligan. In a similar way to Thomas Wimbush, Gilligan really stands as a do-it-all offensive player that put up 20.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists on 58% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc on 3.9 attempts per game. Obviously, he’ll have something to prove as a former DII player that has played against mediocre competition, but he definitely has a chance to make the team.

Grade: C+

Grand Rapids: Malcolm Bernard, Wesley Da Silva, Danrad Knowles, Derrick Wilson

As a mid-1st round pick in a weaker G League draft, the Drive picked made a solid value pick by selecting former Xavier and Florida A&M guard Malcolm Bernard. That value is largely due to him being a well-rounded player that is decent in a variety of things. At Xavier, he shined as a perimeter shooter that shot 39% from beyond the arc on 3 perimeter attempts per game.

However, he was a different player at Florida A&M as Bernard shined as a major defensive weapon that averaged 2.2 steals per game. Alongside that, he was a decent facilitator that was regularly able to make his way to the free throw line. Do the Drive know which Bernard they’re going to get? Maybe not but I think they believe he’ll be a decent rotation piece, no matter if he plays like he did at Xavier or Florida A&M.

A 21-year-old Brazilian prospect, Wesley De Silva has the frame of an NBA player as he stands 6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan, which he mainly utilizes on the defensive end. On offense, Silva is a huge work in progress as there isn’t one skill that he isn’t at least above-average in. Honestly, his best trait is probably as a facilitator as he’s shown some work as a drive-and-dish facilitator. He’s a lackluster perimeter shooter that hasn’t eclipsed the 29% plateau.

Grade: B

Greensboro Swarm: Cole Huff, Daniel Dingle, Denzel Ingram

For a squad that basically has their starting 5 in tact, the Swarm utilized the draft to build and finalize the rotation. They definitely did a decent job of that during the draft as they used their first round pick to select 6’7 Cole Huff, who shot a jaw-dropping 46% from beyond the arc as a senior at Creighton. While the jury’s still out on his other skills, that fantastic shooting should allow him to have an immediate role with the team.

That run of Greensboro picking perimeter-minded wings remained in the 2nd round when they selected former Temple alum Daniel Dingle. During his senior year, the 6’7 forward put up 12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 40% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 4.6 perimeter attempts per game. That combination of solid perimeter shooting and facilitating should give him an opportunity to have a spot within the Swarm’s rotation.

Grade: B-

Erie: Jeremy Hollowell, Daesung Lee, Jaylen Morris, Chris Braswell, Deshon Burgess

If you’ve been paying attention to this piece, you’d realize that I’ve talked about several wings that were solid in a variety of ways but excellent in none. That can describe Bayhawks 1st round pick Jeremy Hollowell who had a pretty solid career with Georgia State. As a senior, he put up 15.1 points and 5.9 rebounds on 43% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc. He was able to do that through decent slashing and average perimeter shooting.

After Hollowell, Erie picked South Korean guard Daesung Lee, who comes to the league after playing three years in his home country. While his highlight reels might intrigue you, Lee’s stats are definitely troubling as he maintained a 41% True Shooting Percentage last year. So honestly, I’m not expecting much out of him even though he’s a 1st round pick.

If Lee isn’t able to make the team’s roster, the Bayhawks may look to former DII wing Jaylen Morris to fill a role within their rotation. As a senior at Molloy he put up 19.9 points, 7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 55% from the field. Although he isn’t too efficient as a perimeter weapon, as he only shot 28%, his drive as a scorer and knack on the defensive glass could still allow him to have some playing time.

Grade: B

Canton: Maksym Pustozvonov (from Memphis), Jalen Jones (from Memphis), Gokul Natesan

In a deal with the Memphis Hustle, the Canton Charge snagged Ukranian veteran forward Maksym Pustozvonov. Aside from Kendrick Perkins, this 30-year-old forward immediately stands as the oldest player on the Charge roster. While he’s definitely reached his potential, he should still be a solid piece within the team’s rotation due to his strong perimeter jumper, as he’s shot around 40% during most of his career in Europe.

Grade: B

Fort Wayne: Tra-Deon Hollins, Steve Weingarten, JD Tisdale

Contributor DC Hendrix wrote an extensive recap of what the Mad Ants did during the G League draft in a Sunday piece. However, here’s another take from him on the draft.

Really like Hollins. Fills a huge point guard need and his all around game will eventually make him a starter I think. Weingarten knows Coach Gansey from their days at Canton. Knows the scheme pretty well. Decent draft if you ask me.

DC Hendrix’s Grade: B

Maine Red Claws: Chris Flemmings (from Reno), Leron Barnes, Jordan Price

In a deal with the Reno Bighorns where they sent Dominic Cheek, the Red Claws traded for former UNC Wilmington wing Chris Flemmings. Honestly, this is a major snag for Maine as he’s another one of these do-it-all guards that just shine in a variety of ways. Flemmings is a great on-ball driver with a long strides and a quick first stel. Those tools allow him to move to the rim whenever he desires. Alongside that, he’s a decent perimeter weapon as he shot 36% from beyond the arc.

Among the late round guys that Maine selected, I’m most intrigued by former Houston guard Leron Barnes. At 6’5, Barnes is fantastic on the offensive glass that’s able to use his strong 195 pound frame to fight inside the paint. That effort pushed him to average 1.6 offensive rebounds in only 25 minutes per game during his senior season.

Grade: B+

Raptors 905: Kethan Savage, Aaron Best (from Long Island), Liam McMorrow, Eric Washington, Jamaal Brantley

Despite standing as the reigning G League champs, the 905 needed to use the draft to solidify their rotation, as they only have two players on their roster that played more than 25 minutes per game last year. While the jury’s definitely still out, I’d say that the 905 did a decent job.

1st round selection Kethan Savage is a solid slasher that can just rock the rims like nobody’s business. However, his struggles as a perimeter and facilitator are some traits that he’ll definitely need to work on. While Savage stands as a below-average shooter, Best definitely makes up for it as he shot 43% from beyond the arc during his senior season at Ryerson University. The final player that can make his way onto the 905’s opening day roster is Liam McMorrow. The 7’2 big has actually been around the block as he spent time with the Iowa Energy during the 2012-13 season. Since then, he’s played with a variety of Asian squads.

Grade: C+

Wisconsin: Ladarius White, Joshua Blamon

Despite being a squad there has no returning players and just two affiliate prospects coming in, the Herd weren’t necessarily excited about this draft as they dealt their first round pick for Xavier Munford. Alongside that, they just decided to select two prospects, Ladarius White and Joshua Blamon.

In the 2nd round, they selected 6’6 wing White who spent the prior year playing in Slovakia where he put up 13 points, 4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game on 51% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Blamon is a 6’2 guard that put up below-average numbers for a DII school. Don’t expect him to make the team.

Grade: B (since they received Xavier Munford)