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2017 NBA G League Draft Review: Western Conference Edition

Editor Dakota Schmidt recaps how the Western Conference squads did during the G League draft.

NCAA Basketball: Sacramento State at Stanford Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Arizona Suns: Eric Stuteville, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson

Around 24 hours before last weekend’s NBA G League Draft, the Northern Arizona Suns acquired the 1st overall pick and the returning player rights to Zach Andrews from the Iowa Wolves in exchange for the rights of Elijah Millsap and Michael Bryson. At that time, the Suns seemed to be on their way towards selecting big man Joel Bolomboy, who was projected to pick during the following day’s draft. However, those plans quickly changed as the Bucks signed Bolomboy to a two-way deal just hours after the Suns traded for that pick.

With Bolomboy in Milwaukee, Northern Arizona still needed to find another player to select with that pick. That alternative ended up being 6’11 big Eric Stuteville, who spent three years as the starting center for Sacramento State. As a senior, he averaged 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in only 27 minutes per game. While those numbers might not be too impressive, this selection was understandable once you start to look into his game.

In the film I watched, Stuteville kinda gives off this Jack Cooley vibe in the fact that he’s a fighter on the offensive glass, has great hands, and remains cool under pressure when he’s surrounded by multiple opponents. One advantage that the Suns rookie has is that his defensive awareness seems to be a bit better as Stuteville does a nice job of being able to quickly read and react to on-ball drivers.

While on the topic of strong defenders, the Suns used their second 1st round pick to select forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson. A G League vet that played 36 games in Delaware in 2014-15, he spent last year with the Orangeville A’s of Canada’s National Basketball League. In that season, he averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game. His great work as a ball-hawk allowed him to be named as the NBL’s Defensive Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season.

With the selection of both Stuteville and Hollis-Jefferson, its clear that the Suns used the draft to build a strong defensive identity. It definitely looks like the Suns did a great job of that as both players should have a significant role with the team from day one. Stuteville should start off as their starting center while Hollis-Jefferson should battle for that starting SF spot with former Iowa stud Peter Jok.

Grade: B+

Reno Bighorns: Brandon Austin, Akeem Richmond, Dominic Cheek (traded to Reno)

Immediately following the Suns picking Stuteville, the intriguing selections continued when the Bighorns picked 6’6 guard Brandon Austin. A four-star prospect in the 2013 HS basketball class that declared to Providence, Austin actually never got an opportunity to play Division I ball. That was due to him facing multiple sexual assault allegations at both Providence and Oregon, which ultimately led to his name becoming toxic within college basketball circles.

After getting removed from Oregon, Austin spent a season in with Northwest Florida State College, a a small junior college school. He shined with that small school as he put up 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.9 steals on 40% from the field. His great production helped push the school to winning a junior-college title for the 2014-15 season.

Three years later, Austin will look to reignite his career with the Reno Bighorns. While there isn’t too much recent tape on him, I was able to gather that he’s an athletic wing that can facilitate and also defend against multiple positions. That type of versatility should allow him to be a solid member of the Bighorns rotation.

Coinciding with the selection of Austin, Reno traded with Maine for former Villanova forward Dominic Cheek. After graduating in 2012, he’s stayed in North America as he’s played in both Canada and Mexico. Last year in Mexico, he stood as a solid point forward as he put up 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game with a little squad called Zonkeys de Tijuana.

If they’re able to make their way through training camp unscathed, both players should be a significant part of their rotation due to the Bighorns lack of wings. There’s a decent chance that Austin can be that weapon that can come in and shine in a multitude of different ways. A similar thing can be said about Cheek as he could definitely be the team’s point forward that can control the ball when Stockton needs playing time.

Grade: B

Iowa Wolves: Marquise Moore, Tony Parker, Vince Garrett, Jarvis Williams

Entering the draft, one of the prospects that I was most intrigued by was former George Mason point guard Marquise Moore. That interest was due to how he was this 6’2 dude that averaged a double-double with 16.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game during his senior.

Although Moore definitely has the body of an NFL free safety, you usually don’t see a point guard average double-digit rebounds unless their name is Russell Westbrook. Moore’s rebounding prowess leads to him being a strong transition threat as he can just explode his way down the court once he snags the offensive board. His explosiveness is also prevalent when he’s working in the half-court as his quick first step allowed him to drive past most college defenders. After that, Moore was regularly able to score at the rim, even if he drove into contact due to his strong 202 pound frame.

The Wolves stuck with their goal of picking strong and beefy players as they used their 2nd round pick on former UCLA big Tony Parker. Standing at 6’9 and 275 pounds, he was a double-double threat throughout his college career. That was most evident during his senior year where he put up 12.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game on 54% from the field. Parker does a nice job of utilizing his big frame in the paint as he’s a pretty strong low-post threat. Also, he’s a force on the offensive glass as he averaged 3.2 offensive boards per game, the highest average in the Big-12 during the 2015-16 season.

Although the Wolves might have one of the weaker squads in the G League, they definitely picked up some solid pieces in Parker and Moore. Parker has a chance to be in the team’s starting lineup on opening night due to his sheer ability to get a double-double nightly. On the other end, Moore will be a nice 2nd unit guard that can come in and bring a different approach to the game than other Iowa guards like Melo Trimble, Wes Washpun or Michael Bryson.

Grade: B+

South Bay Lakers: Scott Machado, Ian Baker, Jerome Frink, Michael Lyons, Robert Heyer

Although South Bay incredibly strong starting backcourt that consists of two-way prospects Vander Blue and Alex Caruso, they still decided to beef that unit by selecting Scott Machado and Ian Baker with their their two first round picks.

First off, they selected veteran guard Scott Machado, who had a brief stint with the Golden State Warriors during the 2012-13 season. More recently, he’s bounced around between the NBA G League, Germany and Spain. No matter where he’s played, Machado has stood as an outstanding facilitator that’s maintained a 2.0 Ast/TO ratio.

On the other hand, Ian Baker comes to South Bay after a strong stint with the New Mexico State Lobos. His best play came during his senior year where he put up 16.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game on 39% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc. Although those numbers point Baker to being an inefficient player, it’s only the case due to half of his shot attempts coming from beyond the 3-point line. He definitely stands as a better guard if he just sticks to driving to the basket, as he averaged 62% from around the rim, according to Hoop-Math.

Outside of that backcourt duo, the one name that stands out as a potential sleeper to make this squad is former LIU-Brooklyn forward Jerome Frink. Standing at 6’7 and 230 pounds, he honestly stood as a do-it-all forward for the squad as he shined as an offensive rebounder, on-ball driver, facilitator, shot blocker.

Those plethora of traits were evident from his stat line where put Frink put up 16.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1 block per game on 47% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc. For a mid-2nd round pick in a weaker draft, Frink could actually end up being a decent role player for South Bay.

Grade: B

AC Clippers: Tyler Roberson, Tyler Harris

Even before the G League draft, the AC Clippers have hoenstly hit the ball out of the park when it comes to being an expansion squad building a rotation. Starting out to them signing CJ Williams and Jamil Wilson to two-ways, grabbing Andre Dawkins, Julian Jacobs and JJ O’Brien during the expansion draft, getting Marshall Plumlee and Ike Iroegbu as affiliate players or trading for Tyrone Wallace. Those players listed should allow the Clippers to have a strong eight-man rotation.

After that strong start, the Clippers could’ve honestly looked past this year’s weakened G League draft. However, they didn’t as they beefed up their front-court by picking forwards Tyler Harris and Tyler Roberson.

The 6’10 Harris is a great handler for a player his size as he can control the rock in transition and half-court. Alongside that, he’s been working hard on his jumper during this off-season, which is a skill that could push him to be a possible 10-day candidate.

On the other end, Tyler Roberson is a former Syracuse forward that just dominates on the offensive glass. During his college career, the 6’8 Roberson collected 2.6 offensive boards in only 23.5 minutes per game.

Although the Clippers already had a strong rotation in place before the draft, they definitely beefed things up in the front-court with their selections of Tyler Harris and Tyler Roberson.

Grade: A-

Memphis: Cordarius Johnson, Cullen Russo (traded to Memphis), Shaq Thomas (traded to Memphis)

Like the Clippers, the Memphis Hustle entered last weekend’s draft with a strong core already in place that consisted of Trahson Burrell (trade), Marquis Teague, Durand Scott, Kobi Simmons, Vince Hunter, Jeremy Morgan and Omari Johnson. The similarities between those teams end there as the Hustle didn’t really do much during the actual G League Draft.

Honestly, the only intriguing player is probably former Fresno State forward Cullen Russo as its pretty impressive for a 6’9 forward to average 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals in only 25 minutes per game. However, His struggles as an actual shooting threat leaves me tentative about his potential with the squad.

Grade: D+

OKC: TJ Wallace, Stedmon Lemon, Wally Ellenson, Amjyot Singh

With a late 1st round pick, the OKC Blue selected former Pacific point guard TJ Wallace. As a senior, he put up 12.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3 assists on 39% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc on 2.6 perimeter attempts per game. While not the quickest guard, he maintains pretty decent handles which allows him to create some open looks. At this point, most of that comes from beyond the arc as he’s a strong perimeter shooting threat.

After Wallace, its a mixed bag for the OKC Blue. They selected Stedmon Lemon with their 2nd round pick, who actually played in the G League last year with the 87ers and Charge. However, he struggled with both clubs as he maintained a 37% True Shooting Percentage in the rare moments that he played.

A similar thing can be said about Wally Ellenson, who will make his second attempt at the G League after getting waived by South Bay in the prior season. However, Ellenson might have better luck this year as he’s coming off a strong stint with the Windsor Express of the Canadian NBL. With that club. He put up 9.7 points and 3.1 boards on 44% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 4.9 perimeter attempts per game.

Last but certainly not least, 6’8 forward Amjyot Singh GIll is looking to join Satnam Singh and Sim Bhullar as Indian players that have joined the G League. While the odds might not be in his favor, he maintains a solid outside touch and has experience playing for India’s national team.

Grade: B

Sioux Falls: Kris Jenkins, Jimmie Taylor, Tre Burnette

With their first round pick, the Skyforce selected Kris Jenkins, the player that made the game-winning shot that pushed Vilanova over North Carolina during the 2016 NCAA title game. Even when he’s not upsetting Kenny Smith, Jenkins maintains that solid perimeter stroke as he shot 37% from beyond the arc on 4.9 attempts per game during his four-year college career. Outside of that, he’s shown flashes of being able to slash to the rim and forcing some steals on defense.

In the following round, Sioux Falls looked to boost their front-court by selecting 6’10 center Jimmie Taylor, who spent his college career with Alabama. If he makes the team, he’ll definitely be looked at as their 2nd unit rim protector as he averaged 1.4 blocks in only 18.2 minutes per game.

Grade: C+

Texas: John Gillon, Grant Johnson, Jordan Woodard, Antoine Mason, Prince Williams

Despite not having a 1st round pick, the Legends still got tremendous value when they selected former Syracuse guard John Gillon with their 2nd round selection. In a weak draft class, it was surprising to see him fall all the way to the 2nd round due to how he was one of the lead scorers for an ACC team. During his lone season with the school, he put up 10.5 points, 5.4 assists, 1.4 steals on 41% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc.

That great play included GIllon putting up 43 points and 9 assists against Dennis Smith’s NC State Wolfpack. In regards to his fit for the Legends, Gillon could slot in as a strong rotation player that will work as Justin Dentmon’s backup.

While the likelihood of draft picks making the final roster honestly tumbles following the 2nd round, there are some prospects to watch. One of those players is Jordan Woodard, who enters the G League after being the leading scorer for a struggling Oklahoma squad. He did a little of everything for for the Sooners by putting up 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.9 steals per game on 39% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. Again, the likelihood of him making the roster is slim due to his status as a late 3rd round pick, but he might turn into a decent rotation player for the Legends if Woodard does make the team.

Grade: B+ (due to the Gillon steal)

Austin: Tucker Haymond, Anthony Beane, Corey Allen

Similar to the Legends, the Austin Spurs didn’t have a 1st round pick but were still able to get solid value. A lot of that intrigue is due to former Western Michigan wing Tucker Haymond. Honestly, he could end up as a sleeper prospect due to how versatile he is on the offensive end. Need someone to hit that perimeter jumper?

Well he shot 38% from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts. What about having someone that can drive to the rim and get to the line? Haymond can definitely meet that command as he shot 64% from around the rim, according to Hoop-Math. Alongside that, he averaged 5.2 free throw attempts per game where he maintained a shot 74% Free Throw Percentage.

After that, the Spurs are bringing back Anthony Beane for a second chance with the team after they selected him in the 2nd round in last year’s draft. Although they ended up waiving him, it’s apparent that the organization is intrigued by his talents. Rightfully so as Beane is a scoring threat whenever he’s on the court as he averaged 19.3 points on 43% from 3 and 37% from beyond the arc during his senior season at Southern Illinois.

Salt Lake: Sidy Djitte (didn’t make it to camp), Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, Nahshon George

Honestly, I’d love to praise the SLC Stars on selecting former Clemson big Sidy Djitte with their 2nd round pick. He’s a strong 6’10, 240 pound big that was able to snag 3.6 offensive boards in only 23 minutes per game. However, he wasn’t on the team’s training camp roster so it might not be a good idea to analyze that move.

WIth Djitte out of camp, Nelson-Ododa could step in and be that front-court threat that the Stars could have in their rotation. Although he just averaged 19.5 minutes per game during his time with Richmond and Pittsburgh, the 6’9 forward averaged 1.7 blocks per game.