Note: This piece is part one of an ongoing series breaking down who we project to be the top 50 G League players for the upcoming 2018-19 season. In an easier way to select these players, we looked for players that have already impressed against solid pro competition, whether they were in the G League, elite European leaguers and even the NBA. That was due to how difficult it could be to project how former college players can perform at the G League level.
That was evident last year with former DII prospect Jaylen Morris and Virginia alum London Perrantes. Morris shined at the G League level to the point where he landed a pro contract with the Atlanta Hawks. Meanwhile, Perrantes really struggled to get going offensively with the Canton Charge as he maintained a lackluster 45% effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%).
50. Cat Barber - Greensboro Swarm: 16.9 pts, 4.5 asts, 1 stls, 3.5 rebs on 44% from field and 31% from 3 on 3 attempts in 29 minutes per game. 53% TS%, 47% eFG
Since he first arrived in the G League with the Delaware 87ers (now Blue Coats) in 2016-17, Barber has stood as one of the better on-ball driving guards in the league due to the combination of incredible acceleration alongside an ability to change speed and direction on a dime. So despite being undersized as a 6’1, 173 pound point guard, that trait allowed him to shoot 61% from inside the restricted area during last year when he was with Greensboro.
His great skills as an on-ball driver helped allow Barber be a solid offensive weapon as he averaged 16.9 points, 4.5 assists, 1 steals, 3.5 rebounds on 44% from the field and 31% from 3 in 29 minutes per game while maintaining a 52% True Shooting Percentage (TS%) and 47% eFG%. Although those numbers allowed him to be a solid leader for the Swarn, his inefficiency from beyond the arc mixed with low assist numbers pushes him to be placed low on this list of the fifty one best G League players.
49. Demetrius Jackson (two-way player with 76ers) - Delaware Blue Coats: 14.8 pts, 3.6 rebs, 4.3 asts, 1.2 stls on 46% from the field and 36% from 3 on 4 attempts in 29 minutes per game with RGV and Delaware. 57% TS%, 53% eFG% and 2 Ast/TO ratio.
It’s safe to say that Demetrius Jackson lived his life through his suitcase during last year as he was a two-way player with both the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers. So in addition the day-by-day uncertainty that comes with being a two-way player, Jackson had to move from Houston/RGV to Newark/Philadelphia during the middle of the season. No matter which G League was on, Jackson stood as a pretty reliable point guard. In 29 minutes per game, he averaged 14.8 points, 4.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals on 46% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc on 4 attempts in 29 minutes per game.
Aside from a lower point average, his numbers are basically identical to Cat Barber. However, the one thing that puts Jackson above the Greensboro guard would be his increased efficiency, as he maintained a 57% TS% and 53% eFG% last year with both Delaware and RGV.
48. Kobi Simmons - Canton Charge: 15.1 pts, 3.9 asts, 1 stls on 44% from field and 36% from 3 on 3.2 attempts in 31 minutes per game. 54% TS%, 48% eFG%, 1.5 Ast/TO.
Due to his status as a one-and-done prospect, Kobi Simmons entered the 2017-18 season as one of the more intriguing two-way players in the G League. Although the young guard went through some rough patches over the course of his season, he impressed during his time with the Memphis Hustle.
In 31 minutes per game, he put up 15 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 44% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc on 3.2 attempts in 31 minutes per game.Alongside those solid stats, that season was a sign that Simmons improved as a player as his 3-point shooting percentage went from 32% in 2016-17 with Arizona to 36% with the Hustle.
While his numbers weren’t as impressive at the NBA level, Simmons also stood as a decent but inefficient role player with the Grizzlies. In 32 games, he averaged 6.1 points, 2.1 assists and 1.6 rebounds on 42% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc. Although that allowed him to maintain a below-average 49% True Shooting Percentage, the young guard still had some solid performances which a 27 point, 7 assist game against the Detroit Pistons on April 8th.
After getting waived by the Grizzlies in August, Simmons will return to the G League as a member of the Canton Charge. From an offensive perspective, he’ll have some opportunity to improve as being able to work alongside solid players like JaCorey Williams and John Holland should create more open opportunities for the young player. Also, Simmons will be able to use the lessons that he learned from his time with the Grizzlies to further break out at the G League level.
47. Andrew White - Maine Red Claws: 15.6 pts, 4.5 rebs, 1.2 asts on 45% from field and 40% from 3 on 6.3 attempts in 31 minutes per game with Maine Red Claws and Erie Bayhawks. 58% TS% and 55% eFG%
While on the topic of efficiency, Andrew White was a dream come true to the analytically-minded basketball fan with his on-court play last year. Whether he was with the Maine Red Claws or Erie BayHawks, the 6-7 wing stood as one of the more reliable offensive weapons in the entire G League.
That fact is backed up by how he put up 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 45% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc on 6.3 attempts in 31 minutes per game. Those averages led to him maintaining a 58% TS% and 55% eFG% which was largely due to his great three-point shooting.
As he makes his way to Maine for the 2018-19 season, White’s efficiency from beyond the arc should actually increase in the upcoming season. That’s largely due to him joining a stacked Red Claws that features solid offensive weapons like Marcus Georges-Hunt, PJ Dozier and Walt Lemon. Defenses focusing on that solid trifecta could give White more open looks that he received last season.
46. Jordan Loyd (two-way player with Toronto Raptors) - Raptors 905: 17.4 pts, 4.9 rebs, 3.6 asts, 1.7 stls on 48% from field and 40% from 3 on 4.9 attempts in 33 minutes per game with Hapoel Eliat in BSL. 63% TS% 56% eFG%.
One of the biggest surprises from the 2016-17 season was the play of Mad Ants guard Jordan Loyd. While he entered the year as an overlooked asset due to his past play at a Division II school, Loyd immediately stood out as one of a key rotation player on a solid Fort Wayne team as he averaged 15.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4 assists on 44% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 3.9 attempts in only 28 minutes per game.
His solid rookie season caught the attention of teams, both foreign and domestic, as Israeli squad Hapoel Eilat signed the young guard for the 2017-18 season. Loyd’s progression continued against the league’s solid competition as he averaged 17.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals on 48% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc on 5 attempts per game. At the end of that solid season, the BSL named him to the All-Israeli 2nd team.
Now that he’s back in the States as a two-way prospect with Toronto, Loyd will look to see how if he can maintain that perimeter efficiency in the G League that he had in Israel. If he’s able to do that in addition to building chemistry with his new 905 teammates, there’s a good chance that the 3rd year guard can outpace other players on this list.
45. Drew Gordon - Long Island Nets: 11.7 pts, 6.8 rebs, 1 asts on 59% from field in 21 minutes per game with Zenit Saint Petersburg in VTB United and Eurocup.
Analysis from Ridiculous Upside contributor Tim Oakes
The older brother of Orlando Magic star forward Aaron Gordon is back for his second stint in the G League. At 6 feet 9 inches, he is the same height as his brother but he has 25 more pounds on him which allows him to battle inside the paint as well. Gordon spent the past three seasons playing in Europe. He averaged 12 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor.
Long Island Nets Head Coach Will Weaver has worked with Gordon before during his time with the 76ers organization. Gordon spent one season with the Delaware 87ers where he averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game on 53 percent shooting. Weaver has praised his veteran leadership and his ability to run the pick-and-roll. He should get a ton of minutes at the four and even the five if Weaver decides to go small.
44. Codi Miller-McIntyre - Texas Legends: 16 pts, 7.7 asts, 5.4 rebs, 1.6 stls on 47% from field and 32% from beyond the arc on 4.1 attempts in 33 minutes per game with Parma Basket Perm in VTB United and Europe Cup Qualifiers. 54% TS%, 52% eFG%
As the lone player on this top-50 list to have not played in the G League, Codi Miller-McIntyre will definitely be an intriguing player to watch when he debuts for the Texas Legends. While there might be uncertainty about how he’ll play at the G League level, Miller-McIntyre’s game should fit well at this level. Most of that confidence regarding how he’ll transition to the G League is due to his tremendous skills as a facilitator.
At seemingly any moment he’s on the court, Miller-McIntyre has the ability to throw a precise pass to a teammate at any moment no matter where he might be on the court. Initially that might seem like hyperbole but that idea becomes a reality when you actually watch some film as he can make the kind of reads that a lot of other facilitators can’t. Those skills allowed him to average 7.7 assists with a 2.4 Ast/TO ratio last year for Parma Basket Perm of the Russian VTB United league.
While his inefficiency as a perimeter shooter is what prevents Miller-McIntyre for going higher on this list, the guard’s tremendous facilitating mixed with the array of scoring weapons on the Legends allows him to be part of this list.
43. Jaron Blossomgame - Austin Spurs: 16.5 pts, 8.1 rebs, 1.3 asts on 55% from field on 12.9 attempts per game. 59% TS%, 56% eFG%
42. Omari Johnson - Fort Wayne Mad Ants: 16.5 pts, 6.4 rebs, 1.6 asts on 46% from field and 42% from 3 on 7.4 attempts in 28 minutes per game
When it came to creating this portion of the list, it was a real challenge which player to put over the other. That’s due to how the points, assists, minutes and True Shooting Percentages of both players are essentially identical. For Blossomgame, he stood as a rebounder, especially on the offensive end as he snagged 2.3 boards on that end of the floor. In comparison, Johnson grabbed 1.6 offensive rebounds per game during his time with the Memphis Hustle.
Despite Blossomgame being a better rebounder, Johnson is ahead of him on this list due to the current Mad Ants forward’s work as a perimeter shooter. Last year, he shot 42% from beyond the arc on 7.4 attempts per game. Johnson’s solid shooting percentage pushed him to be one of the best perimeter shooting forwards in the G League. Of course, his great shooting opened up other aspects of his game as he was a solid driver and facilitator as he averaged 1.6 assists per game in 2017-18.
Although Johnson was definitely solid with Memphis, don’t be surprised if they improve this year as he makes his way to Fort Wayne. That’s due to how the sharpshooter will be a big and reliable target that young Mad Ants guards like Edmond Sumner, Rob Gray or Tra-Deon Hollins can dish the ball off to.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Blossomgame’s numbers get even better in the 2018-19 season. Alongside the typical development that comes from younger players working over the summer, he should be relied upon to carrier a bigger offensive load as he joins Amida Brimah and Julian Washburn as the only Spurs that played over 25 minutes per game on last year’s championship winning squad. As the best offensive player in that trio, don’t be surprised if Blake Ahearn gives him more responsibility due to Blossomgame’s experience within the Spurs system.
41. Travis Trice - Wisconsin Herd: 16.2 pts, 5.8 asts, 3.5 rebs, 1.3 stls on 44% from field and 36% from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts in 34 minutes per game in 58 total G League games (2015-16 and 2016-17). 53% TS%, 49% eFG%, 2.6 Ast/TO ratio
Going back to back-court weapons, Travis Trice has stood as a consistent player since he left Michigan State and turned pro in 2015. His pro career started at the G League level with the Westchester Knicks. From the jump, he immediately inserted himself as the team’s lead point guard by running the offense and working alongside the likes of Jimmer Fredette, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Jordan Bachynski. Trice’s leadership worked as the team finished 28-22 while he averaged 5.7 assists with a 2.6 Ast/TO ratio.
Returning to the team for the 2016-17 season, Trice made drastic improvements in all avenues of his game as the young guard averaged 21.1 points, 6.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game on 45% from field and 51% from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts in 35 minutes per game. However, Trice didn’t have a lengthy stay with Westchester as he left the team to make more money playing in the Australian NBL. That run in Australia ended in 2017-18 as he put up 15.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.3 assists per game on 43% from field and 37% from beyond the arc with the Brisbane Bullets.
Now that he’s back in the States, Trice will have another opportunity to shine in the G League with the Wisconsin Herd. There’s a good chance he’ll be able to do that as the point guard will be able to work with intriguing offensive weapons like James Young, Brandon McCoy, Jaylen Morris, Ike Nwamu and Jordan Barnett.