Eight G League alumni from the 2016-17 basketball season have been invited to the Indiana Pacers’ rookie and free-agent summer camp roster to be available for the Orlando Summer League. After practicing in Indianapolis with Summer League head coach Popeye Jones, the roster will commence play in the Orlando Summer League on Saturday, July 1st.
Of the eight G League alumni on the roster, six of them (Georges Niang, Jordan Loyd, Travis Leslie, Trey McKinney-Jones, Rakeem Christmas, and Joe Young) spent some time with the Pacers’ G League affliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, during the 2016-17 NBADL season. 6’1” guard Bubu Palo had a 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game in 25 games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Meanwhile 6’6 RGV Vipers wing Chris Johnson put up 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game on 53% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc.
On the other hand, a handful of Summer League participants for the Pacers helped push the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to a 30-20 record and also have the 4th best offense in the NBA D-League. Among those players, Trey McKinney-Jones stands as the leader as he took the reigns as one of the team’s top scoring threat alongside current Sixers forward Alex Poythress. Last season, McKinney-Jones put up a career-high 16.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game on 47% from the field.
Meanwhile, Jordan Loyd had a great rookie season with the Mad Ants as he worked as he essentially worked as the team’s main facilitator. Within that role, Loyd put up 15.1 points and 4 assists on 44% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc. Alongside that duo, you have Travis Leslie who remains a NBADL legend despite somehow only being 27 years old. Leslie will continue to hope to demonstrate his athleticism and shot creating utility during Summer League which will hopefuly result in him making his way onto an NBA training camp roster.
Georges Niang, Rakeem Christmas, and Joe Young will hope to use the Summer League and solid if brief stints in Fort Wayne last season to convince Pacers head coach Nate McMillan to rise out of the bottom of the Pacers’ rotation minutes for 2017-18. Rookies TJ Leaf, Ben Moore, Naz Long, and Augusto Cesar Lima want to put their names on the map for the next decade in the NBA.
Augusto Cesar Lima is intriguing as a 25 year old 6’10” Brazilian who made a name for himself in the Spanish ACB and for the Lithuanian giants Zalgiris as a tenacious rebounder who has steadily made strides as a rim protector. Lima gets a chance to introduce himself to the United States starting Saturday and perhaps display enough acumen as an energy big to earn a role on the soon-to-be-talent-depleted Indiana Pacers roster or become a coveted prospect in the 2017 G League Draft in October.
This roster already builds anticipation to a possibly unconventional 2017-18 NBA season. With the future of the Pacers currently in limbo, scouting heavily into the G League’s depth of talent prepares wisely for discovering the next underpaid NBA contributors.