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Top 50 G League Players For 2018-19 Season: #30-#21

Ridiculous Upside starts their countdown of the top 50 G League players for 2018-19 season by going from #30-#21

Adelaide 36ers v Utah Jazz Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

30. Kalin Lucas - Stockton Kings: 18.0 pts, 5 asts, 1 stls, 3.9 rebs on 44% from field and 40% from beyond the arc on 3.7 attempts in 32 minutes per game in in 2016-17 with Erie and Iowa. 56% TS%, 49% eFG%, 2.2 AST/TO ratio.

After spending the 2017-18 season in Israel, Kalin Lucas returns to the States to begin his fourth season in the NBA G League. During the prior three years, he stood out as one of the more consistent backcourt presences in the league due to his ability to shine as both a reliable scoring threat and solid facilitator. In regards to the scoring, he was definitely best outside of the perimeter as Lucas was extremely pretty efficient from both beyond the arc and mid-range.

During his last G League season in 2016-17 with Erie and Iowa, he shot 40% from beyond the arc and 45% from mid-range (16-24 feet from rim), on 3.7 and 3.2 attempts per game, respectively. Although the mid-range jumper isn’t the most optimal shot in modern day basketball, not sure anyone minds Lucas shooting like that considering how efficient he is.

That efficiency is also there with his work as a facilitator as he averaged 5 assists with a solid 2.2 Ast/TO ratio. Lucas was able to put up those type of numbers through having great patience and court vision. Of course, those two traits are most apparent when his working in the pick-and-roll as he does a great job of waiting until the screener is in position to receive the pass before he throws it. That skill in particular will be important this year as Sacramento’s two-way players, Troy Williams and Wenyen Gabriel, are both front-court players.

29. Isaiah Hicks - Westchester Knicks: 15.6 pts, 7.8 rebs, 1.5 asts, 2 blks on 57% from field in 29 minutes per game. 63% TS%, 58% eFG% in G League with Westchester Knicks

Analysis from Chris Priczak’s (@chrispriczak) “ Analyzing Westchester Knicks’ Training Camp Roster” piece.

Isaiah Hicks is in his second season with the New York Knicks under the two-way contract. He expanded on his offensive game last season where he was nailing jumpers and was putting the ball on the floor. Hicks was working on his perimeter game and started to drain threes towards the end of the season with Westchester and New York. He showed to be one of the top shot blockers in the G League last season. The Knicks are invested in his development and hope he can take the next step in his development in his second season as a two-way player.

28. Kadeem Allen - Westchester Knicks: 17.6 pts, 4.9 asts, 5.5 rebs, 2.2 stls on 45% from field and 30% from beyond the arc on 4.1 attempts in 34 minutes per game. 53% TS%, 49% eFG%

Analysis from Chris Priczak’s (@chrispriczak) “ Analyzing Westchester Knicks’ Training Camp Roster” piece.

After being selected with the No. 53 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Allen started off his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws as part of his two-way deal. He was one of the more talented defensive guards in the NBA’s minor league and was named to the G League All-Defensive team. With a defensive minded coach in Mike Miller, Allen’s defensive skills will help Westchester become a top defense.

27. Byron Mullens - Lakeland Magic: 19.6 pts, 11.1 rebs, 2.8 asts, 1.6 blks on 51% from field and 41% from 3 on 5.1 attempts in 30 minutes per game in 11 games with Lakeland Magic. 7.4 pts, 4.2 rebs, .5 blks on 41% from field and 32% from beyond the arc on 1.8 attempts in 18 minutes per game in 189 total NBA games.

After starting the 2017-18 season playing in Iran, NBA veteran Byron Mullens signed with the G League and joined the Lakeland Magic, after they acquired his rights in a trade with the Sioux Falls SkyForce. That trade immediately paid off for Lakeland as Mullens elevated himself to being one of the best front-court players in the G League, In addition to his ability to consistently get double-doubles, Mullens surprised with his great perimeter shooting as he shot 41% from beyond the arc on 5.1 attempts per game.

Mullens being able to shoot with that level of efficiency is a new feature as he shot 31% on 4.2 attempts per game in 2015-16 when he was with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. His perimeter efficiency in 2017-18 ultimately led to the veteran big maintaining a 60% TS% and a 57% eFG% during his short stint with Lakeland.

Back in the G League with Lakeland for the 2018-19 season, Mullens will need to prove that level of perimeter efficiency is for real rather than him catching hot with a new squad. The significant question regarding whether he’ll be able to do that is the main reason why he’s not higher on this list. Because he’d obviously be an elite G League prospect if he can be a double-double threat while shooting around 40% from beyond the arc over the course of a full G League season.

26. Damion Lee - Santa Cruz Warriors: 16.4 pts, 5.3 rebs, 2.8 asts, 1.4 sts on 46% from field and 36% from beyond the arc on 4.6 attempts in 31 minutes per game in 54 total G League games. 60% TS%, 53% eFG%

After prematurely ending his rookie season with a torn ACL, Damion Lee had a phenomenal rebound year in 2017-18 with both the Santa Cruz Warriors and Atlanta Hawks. From the G League perspective, he quickly established himself as a fantastic wing due to his ability to get it done as both a versatile offensive threat and facilitator. That stint with the team was headlined by a 30 point, 7 rebound and 4 assist performance on 10-15 from the field, 2-5 from beyond the arc and 8-9 from the FT line

Although the Warriors struggled during that season, as they finished with a 23-27 record, Lee was still able to use the G League to attract attention from the NBA as the Hawks signed him to a 10-day deal on March 13th. Due to how the Hawks are a young, rebuilding team, Lee immediately got solid minutes against NBA competition. He definitely impressed as he averaged 10.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals on 41% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc on 4 attempts in 27 minutes per game. While he wasn’t too efficient during that run, as he maintained a lackluster 49% True Shooting Percentage, the Louisville alum showed that he could keep up against NBA competition.

Even though Atlanta didn’t retain him in the subsequent off-season, the Golden State Warriors recognized his talents as they signed him to a two-way deal on July 13th. Due to the constraints of that contracts, he’ll spend most of his time with Santa Cruz where he’ll be a part of a Warriors squad that will include the likes of Darius Morris, Deyonta Davis, Antonius Cleveland and Marcus Derrickson.

25. Jamel Artis - AC Clippers: Jamel Artis - Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario: 19.5 pts, 5.8 rebs, 2.4 asts, 1.3 stls on 46% from field and 35% from beyond the arc on 5.6 attempts per game. 56% TS%, 53% eFG% with Lakeland in 2017-18

While Byron Mullens caught the attention during the later stages of the season due to putting up consistent double-doubles, Jamel Artis stood as an extremely consistent offensive weapon for Lakeland from the start of the season until the team was eliminated by the Erie BayHawks. That honestly isn’t hyperbole as his True Shooting Percentage ranged from 54% to 58% without it getting either higher or lower. He was able to maintain that solid shooting efficiency by just being solid from any area on the court from mid-range, beyond the arc, on-ball drives and working the offensive glass. That great work on the offensive end ultimately helped push the Lakeland Magic to their first playoff appearance since the 2011-12 season.

Although Artis shined on the G League level and had some solid games in the NBA with the Orlando Magic, he unfortunately wasn’t able to get signed to any kind of deal with a team in the Association for 2018-19. That situation ultimately led to him catching on with the AC Clippers as an affiliate player. Still, he should be an intriguing player to keep an eye on this year as his partnership with Clippers two-way prospect Johnathan Motley could create one of the best one-two punches in the entire G League.

24. Raphiael Putney - Sioux Falls Skyforce: 16.3 pts, 8.2 rebs, 1.6 asts, 1.2 stls, 2.3 blks on 46% from field and 34% from 3 on 6.1 attempts in 29 minutes per game. 57% TS%, 54% eFG%

Back in the last piece where we broke down players that were ranked #40-#31, it was noted that a lot of the optimism around Marcus Georges-Hunt was due to how he stood as one of the league’s finest “Swiss Army Knife” because of his versatility. However, G League veteran Raphiael Putney probably stands as the most versatile player in the league as there really isn’t a skill where he isn’t at least above-average at.

Putney’s best skill is probably his work on the defensive end as he stood alongside Austin Spurs’ big Amida Brimah as the best rim protectors in the league. Coinciding with his solid 2.3 blocks per game average, his presence was also evident through on/off numbers as opponents were 3.1 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court (100.9 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the sidelines (104 points per 100).

On the other end of the floor, he basically plays a facilitator’s dream come true as Putney’s a dangerous player whether he’s working in the pick-and-roll or screen-and-pop. In the pick-and-roll, the 6’10 and 185 pound Putney is a great alley-oop target due to his long frame, soft hands and solid hops. Meanwhile, he’s a solid threat from beyond the arc as Putney shot 34% from beyond the arc on 6.1 attempts per game during the 2017-18 season with the Erie Bayhawks.

After getting his G League rights traded to the Sioux Falls Skyforce in September, Putney will be part of a star-studded squad that features minor league stars in Briante Weber, DeAndre Liggins and Rodney Purvis.

23. Naz Mitrou-Long - SLC Stars: 17.9 pts, 6.1 rebs, 4.5 asts, 1.2 stls on 42% from field and 38% from beyond the arc on 9 attempts in 35 minutes per game with SLC Stars in G League. 58% TS%, 54% eFG%.

For the majority of the 2017-18 G League season, the SLC Stars were trapped within the doldrums of the league due to their inability to actually win games. That struggle was evident most when the calendar turned to 2018 as the squad entered the 2018 G League Showcase with an abysmal 3-21 record. Although playoff hopes were already lost, the Stars direction of dismal play was about to deteriorate for various reasons.

That change of luck was largely due to the Jazz signing Georges Niang to a two-way deal, which allowed the Stars to have arguably the best forward in the entire G League. The former Iowa State product backed up that label by averaging 22 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 61% from the field and 53% from beyond the arc on 4.9 attempts per game. Yes, those numbers are real.

Although Niang stole the headlines with his jaw-dropping efficiency, his former Iowa State teammate Naz Mitrou-Long was another huge contributor for the team finishing the year with a 16-34 record. From January 3rd until the end of the year, he averaged 22.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals on 49% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc on 9.6 attempts in 37 minutes per game. Although those numbers came in a limited sample size as it only came in 11 games, it’s still a sign that Mitrou-Long can be a dangerous G League prospect.

Luckily for Mitrou-Long, Utah saw his great skills on the offensive end as they signed him to a two-way deal. Although he’ll have an opportunity to spend some time with the Jazz, he’ll spend the majority of the year in the G League with the Stars. Mitrou-Long could have a legitimate shot of helping lead the team to their first playoff appearance in franchise history as he’ll get a chance to work alongside of fellow two-way player Tyler Cavanaugh and 2018 G League 1st overall pick Willie Reed.

22. Darius Johnson Odom - Iowa Wolves: 21.6 pts, 5.8 asts, 4.6 rebs, 1.4 stls on 45% from field and 37% from 3 on 4.5 attempts in 37 minutes per game in 40 total NBA G League games in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

After spending the last four years playing in various European leagues, Darius Johnson-Odom returns to the G League for 2018-19 as a member of the Iowa Wolves. While he’s been away from the States for a few years, Johnson-Odom really hasn’t lost a step as he’s been a solid player whether he’s in the Euroleague, Eurocup or Basketball Champions League. Last year for Vanoli Cremona of the Italian Lega A, he was fantastic by averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 assists and 3 rebounds per game on 48% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 6.7 attempts in only 28 minutes per game.

In fact, his work as a scorer has already been evident this year as he led Iowa with 27 points and 2 steals on 11-17 from the field and 3-5 from beyond the arc on 5 attempts in the Wolves opening night loss to the Salt Lake City Stars.

Johnson-Odom being able to shoot like that in Italy or Iowa is due to the guard having a fantastic offensive arsenal as he can shine as both an efficient perimeter shooter and dangerous on-ball driver. In addition to that, the veteran guard can also facilitate as he’s averaged 5.7 assists with a 1.65 Ast/TO ratio during his G League career.

21. Darius Morris - Santa Cruz Warriors: 19.1 pts, 6.4 asts, 1.3 stls, 4.3 rebs on 45% from field and 33% from beyond the arc on 6 attempts in 34 minutes per game in 65 total G League games from 2011-12 through 2017-18. 57% TS%, 52% eFG%

To say that Darius Morris’ G League career has been atypical would probably be an understatement. Since he was selected in the 2011 NBA draft, Morris has spent every subsequent season in the NBA G League. However, the 2016-17 season was the only year where he played more than 9 regular season games in the minor leagues. From that 2011 NBA Draft through 2013-14, that fact was due to Morris getting cups of coffee with a handful of different teams.

Since then, you can say that he’s taken on the role of a basketball mercenary for hire as he’s been signed by the RGV Vipers three times during the month of March (2013-14, 2015-16 and 2017-18), That move is meant to give the Vipers a weapon to utilize during their run in the playoffs. Although the Vipers haven’t won a title with the veteran guard on their roster, Morris has still been fantastic in playoff action as he’s averaged 21.3 points, 7.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals on 47% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 6.3 attempts per game.

However, he’ll have an opportunity to actually build chemistry for his teammates for the first time since 2016-17 season as a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors.