On the first day of February, yours truly wrote a piece on how then-Sioux Falls Skyforce guard Briante Weber would be a perfect fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The inspiration behind that article was due to Weber just dominating the D-League coinciding with LeBron James being very vocal about how the Cavaliers need a point guard that can take some of the burden away from himself and Kyrie Irving. However, that article quickly became irrelevant when the Golden State Warriors signed Weber to a 10-day deal on February 4th.
Despite Weber no longer being available, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still in need for a 2nd string point guard. While there’s a good possibility that the team could still acquire that player through trade or tearing Kirk Hinrich away from the racquetball court, the Cavaliers (or any other NBA squad) should look at the D-League for a fit for their second unit. Currently, the best D-League option for the point guard position currently resides in Canton, Ohio.
From the moment that Quinn Cook first put on a Canton Charge jersey, he stood as a force to be reckoned with. Coming off pushing the Duke Blue Devils to win an NCAA title, Cook seemed to be on the mission to prove that he was as good or even better than some of his former college foes that made it to the NBA.
That focus was extremely evident during Cook’s rookie season as he immediately stood as one of the best point guards in the entire D-League. His status as an elite player is backed up by Cook averaging a team-high 19.6 points, 5.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds on 46% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. Cook’s great play during that initial season pushed him to being named as the 2015-16 NBA D-League Rookie of the Year.
Despite that fantastic rookie season with Canton, Cook was still unable to make his way onto an NBA roster for the start of the 2016-17 season. That NBA exclusion pushed Cook to return to the NBA D-League and the Canton Charge. While Cook was technically in the same position that he was in during the prior season, the young guard seemed even more focused on reaching those NBA dreams.
Cook’s increased concentration during his second season is primarily evident through his improvement as an offensive player. A lot of Cook’s offensive improvement is due to him reliant on his work as an on-ball cutter. Over the course of the current season, Cook averages 6.75 shots per game from inside the restricted area, compared to the 5.14 shots that he averaged during the prior season.
It makes sense that Cook has become more reliant on driving to the rim due to his skills as an on-ball cutter. While he does like to utilize on-ball screens, Cook can work around the opposition by his lonesome due to him maintaining a quick first step.
Following that initial victory is where Cook really shines. Once he nears the paint, Cook does a great job of confusing any impending defender by either speeds or pulling off a stellar spin move. Those moves have pushed Cook to shoot 61% from inside the restricted area, which is pretty solid for a 6’2 guard.
Another area where Cook’s handles come in handy is through his work as a facilitator. Averaging 6.6 assists per game with a reasonable 1.8 Ast/TO ratio, Cook shines whether he’s working on a perimeter or drive-and-dish. While he can definitely distribute while he’s working the perimeter, his best work definitely comes when he’s working in drive-and-dish situations.
Once he moves past that initial defender, Cook maintains this incredible court vision that allows him to eye up a teammate, whether they’re a cutting big or perimeter-minded teammate, and just throw an incredibly precise pass. A great example of that is seen in the play below where Cook catches the Nets’ attention with an on-ball drive before throwing a wicked bounce pass to an open perimeter shooter.
Although NBA scouts might be impressed by his facilitating or improvement as an on-ball cutter, Cook shines brightest as a shooter. Dating back to his time with the Duke Blue Devils, shooting has always been the biggest part of Cook’s offensive arsenal, dating back to his time with the Duke Blue Devils. Whether he’s working off-the-dribble as a mid-range shooter or showing from beyond the arc, Cook remains confident due to his smooth shooting touch.
As a mid-range shooter, Cook can use his smooth handles to create separation from the defender. Even if he’s unable to create separation, Cook is more than capable of throwing up a smooth fadeaway, which lands more often than it doesn’t. That statement is backed up by Cook shooting 48% from mid-range.
Transitioning from mid-range to the perimeter, Cook maintains his stance as an efficient shooter. On 6.4 perimeter attempts per game, Cook is currently shooting 36% from beyond the arc. That efficiency is due to the combination of his smooth shooting stroke and the confidence than any squad looks for in a guard.
After spending nearly two seasons as one of the elite guards in the D-League, it’s time for Cook to finally get called up to the NBA. Honestly, that ascension should’ve happened last year when he stood as the best rookie in the D-League while pushing the Canton Charge to maintaining a solid 31-19 record.
One year later, Cook has evolved towards being the best guard in the D-League as he averages 26 points, 6.6 assists and 4 rebounds per game on 48% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. Coinciding with those solid averages, Cook maintains the kind of offensive versatility that might not be matched from any guard that’s currently not in the NBA. While it has been fun to see him light it up with the Canton Charge, it’s time for Quinn Cook to graduate from the D-League and head off to the NBA.