Note: This piece is the fourth piece in a five part series where we look at the top 50 best G League players for the 2018-19 season. If you’re interested in looking through this series, here are the links to part one (#50-#41), part two (#40-#31) and part three (#30-#21).
20. Scotty Hopson - OKC Blue: 19.2 pts, 4.7 rebs, 3.3 asts, 1 stls on 53% from field and 35% from beyond the arc on 3.7 attempts in 32 minutes per game with Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2014-15. 61% TS%, 57% eFG%.
After spending the last three years traversing the globe playing in China, Israel, Croatia and Turkey, Hopson will return to the G League for the first time since the 2014-15 season. In that season, he stood as one of the better scoring options in the league during his time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He shined by averaging 19.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1 steals on 53% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc on 3.7 attempts per game.
While he was a solid perimeter shooter, the veteran guard shined brightest inside the paint as Hopson shot an extremely efficient 75% from inside the restricted area during that 2014-15 season. Hopson was able to be that fantastic as an on-ball driver due to using a quick first step to work around his opponent and solid athleticism that allows him to score in traffic despite being only 204 pounds.
Hopson will look to utilize his great gifts as an on-ball driver to shine as a fantastic offensive threat with the OKC Blue. The veteran should have a good chance to build on that success as he’ll get a lot of scoring opportunities due to being surrounded by solid talent in KJ McDaniels, Dez Wells, Deonte Burton, Chris Wright and Bryce Alford.
19. James Young - Wisconsin Herd: 19.8 pts, 5.2 rebs, 2.4 asts, 1.4 stls on 43% from field and 38% from beyond the arc on 8.4 attempts in 32 minutes per game with Wisconsin Herd & Delaware 87ers (now Blue Coats). 59% TS%, 54% eFG%
After struggling to get off the bench during his three year run with the Boston Celtics, Young made his way to the G League during the 2017-18 season as a member of the Wisconsin Herd. From the jump, he immediately inserted himself as the offensive leader of the expansion team. During the month of November, he averaged 27.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game on 52% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc. While both his efficiency and points per game average lessened in the following month, Young was still able to help push the Herd to be a solid team as they entered the G League Showcase with a 15-8 record.
Young’s time in Wisconsin ended short afterwards as the Sixers signed him to a two-way deal on January 5th. As a member of the Delaware 87ers (now Blue Coats), he continued to stand as a solid offensive weapon as Young put up 19.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game on 41% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc on 7.9 attempts per game.
Despite that solid play with Delaware, Philadelphia decided to waive Young shortly after the G League season ended. After an uneventful offseason which was headlined by Young spending just 72 hours on the Bucks training camp roster, the 23-year-old wing returns to the Herd for his 2nd season. If Young is able to retain the kind of efficiency he had in the first month of the season, while also building chemistry with his new teammates, there’s a chance that Young could see himself finishing higher when we return to this top 50 list in February.
18. Rodney Purvis - Sioux Falls Skyforce: 20.5 pts, 3.9 rebs, 3.4 asts, 1.4 stls on 42% from field and 39% from beyond the arc on 7.7 attempts in 38 minutes per game with Lakeland Magic. 54% TS%, 51% eFG%
As we mentioned in our segment on Troy Caupain, Purvis stood as the offensive leader on a Lakeland Magic team that finished 28-22 and made it to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season. From a statistical perspective, his impact was seen as he averaged 20.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals on 42% from field and 39% from beyond the arc on 7.7 attempts in 38 minutes per game.
His success at that level was due to how Purvis was able to quickly become comfortable with the fast-paced nature of the G League. From the jump, he instantly looked comfortable working in transition, rolling around screens to get open mid-range shots or using a solid first step to work around perimeter defenders. Those traits allowed him to spend time in the NBA with the Orlando Magic. Unfortunately, he struggled at that level as the 6’4 guard maintained a lackluster 43% True Shooting Percentage.
Obviously, those struggles didn’t Purvis out on the NBA market as he ultimately landed as an affiliate player with the Skyforce after spending some time with the Heat. While with the Skyforce, he has the opportunity to work alongside the likes of Rodney Purvis, Briante Weber, DeAndre Liggins, Yante Maten, Raphiael Putney and Duncan Robinson.
17. Tyler Ulis - Windy City Bulls: 7.5 pts, 4 asts, 1.7 rebs, .9 stls on 40% from field and 28% from beyond the arc on 1.7 attempts in 21 minutes per game. 47% TS%, 43% TS%, 2.6 Ast/TO ratio with Phoenix Suns in the NBA
Following a two year run with the Phoenix Suns, where he actually started a total of 58 games, Ulis will be spending most of the season in the G League due to his status as a two-way player with the Chicago Bulls. Although he was a rotation player in the NBA since he was drafted in 2016\, there’s a pretty significant reason why he isn’t on this list.
That deals with how inefficient he was during his run with the Suns as he averaged 7.5 points on 50% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc on 1.7 attempts in 21 minutes per game. His low shooting percentages allowed him to maintain a lackluster 47% True Shooting Percentage.
While he struggled to be a consistent offensive weapon, he was a pretty solid facilitator with Phoenix. As a member of the Suns, he averaged 4 assists per game with a great 2.6 Ast/TO ratio, which put him ahead of guards like Reggie Jackson, DJ Augustin and Jrue Holiday. In addition to that, the 5’9 guard was able to be a solid defender despite his smaller frame to just being an absolute pest when working on the perimeter.
Although he’s already a solid facilitator and decent defender, the 22-year-old guard will need to utilize his time in the G League to become a more effective scoring weapon. That should come from taking better shots and further refining his shooting stroke to shoot better than just 28% from beyond the arc.
16. Kay Felder - Raptors 905: 21.4 pts, 5.8 asts, 1.6 stl on 44% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 4.6 attempts in 32 minutes per game in 31 total NBA G League games. 54% TS%, 48% eFG% with Grand Rapids, Canton and Windy City.
During his first two seasons in the NBA, Felder struggled to really get comfortable with any squad in the Association as he spent time with three separate teams; Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons. His struggles to actually stay on an NBA court was exemplified by how the most minutes he actually played with an NBA team was the 385 minutes that he played in 2016-17 with the Cavaliers.
Those struggles to get significant minutes in the NBA ultimately led to Felder spending significant time in the G League. In a combined 31 games with Canton, Grand Rapids and Windy City, he averaged 21.4 points, 5.8 assists, 1.6 steals on 44% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 4.6 attempts in 32 minutes per game.
The 5’10 guard was able to maintain those great numbers through an ability to utilize his slick handles, and quickness to get openings to either hit mid-range shots or get an open lane to work the drive-and-dish. Although undersized, Felder was able to help teams with his work on the defensive end. An example of that came with his work with Grand Rapids as opposing teams were nearly three points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the court (102.6 points per 100) compared to when Felder was sitting on the sidelines (105.5 points per 100).
15. DeAndre Liggins - Sioux Falls Skyforce: 13.3 pts, 5.5 asts, 6.8 rebs, 2.2 stls on 41% from field and 38% from beyond the arc on 4.7 attempts in 95 total G League games. 55% TS%, 50% eFG%.
For the first time since the 2015-16 season, DeAndre Liggins will be stepping on a G League court. Despite the time since his last G League appearance, he’ll be in familiar surroundings as he played with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2013-14 and 2015-16 season. During both of those years, Liggins arguably stood as the league’s best defender due to his fantastic work with guarding multiple positions from point guard to small forward. His work on that end of the floor was so great that the G League named him as their Defensive Player of the Year during both of the years that Liggins was with the Skyforce.
Liggins’ status as arguably the best defensive player in the G League history combined with him being a solid facilitator and rebounder is what puts him above some more offensive oriented prospects.
Three years after his last G League appearance, Liggins will look to play a vital role on a Skyforce team that might have the talent to make a run at the G League finals. That confidence is definitely warranted as he’ll be playing alongside some fantastic talent in Briante Weber, Rodney Purvis, Raphiael Putney, Malik Newman, Yante Maten and Duncan Robinson.
14. Troy Williams - Stockton Kings: 19.8 pts, 6.1 rebs, 2.2 asts, 1.9 stls on 46% from field and 33% from beyond the arc on 7.6 attempts in 29 minutes per game with RGV Vipers in G League. 57% TS%, 54% eFG%
Since not getting selected in the 2016 NBA Draft, Williams has experienced a hectic time as pro baller due to spending time with five separate teams; Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings.
That last option represents the team that he’s currently with as Williams is signed to a two-way deal with the Sacramento Kings. Although he’ll have an opportunity to spend time at the NBA level with Sacramento, most of his time will come in the G League with the new-look Stockton Kings.
With Stockton, Williams could have an opportunity to have a career-best season as he’ll get a chance to work with solid veteran guards in Kalin Lucas and Marcus Williams.
13. Briante Weber - Sioux Falls Skyforce: 16.1 pts, 6.5 rebs, 7 asts, 2.6 stls on 51% from field and 33% from beyond the arc on 3.2 attempts in 33 minutes per game with Sioux Falls Skyforce in G League. 59% TS%, 55% eFG%.
As a fan, watching the career of Briante Weber has made for an entertaining and frustrating experience. The entertainment simply comes from watching the 6’2 guard play this beautiful game as he’s a tremendous fighter on the defensive end while being able to facilitate and sky through the air on the offensive end. Those skills are simply evident by looking through his statistics as he’s averaging 14.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.7 assists per game on 48% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc on 2.7 attempts in 33 minutes per game during his G League career.
However, the frustration comes when you look at his struggles in the NBA. While you’d think that an athletic defensive-minded point guard that’s also able to facilitate can be a rotation player in the Association, unfortunately that hasn’t been the case for Weber as he’s played a total of 45 games with six separate NBA teams (Memphis, Miami, Charlotte, Golden State and Houston).
12. Willie Reed - SLC Stars: 15.3 pts, 9.9 rebs, 1.8 blks on 58% from the field in 31 minutes per game in 145 total G League games (2012-13/2014-15). 60% TS%, 59% eFG%. 4.9 pts, 3.8 rebs on 59% from the field in 12 minutes per game in 152 total NBA games from 2015-16/2017-18. 59% TS%, 58% eFG%.
Despite being a solid rotation big during the NBA, as he averaged 4.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and .6 blocks on 59% from the field in 12 minutes per game during his time with the Nets, Heat, Clippers and Pistons, Reed didn’t even get a training camp deal when the 2018 preseason began. While some players in that situation would decide to take a more lucrative deal, Reed actually chose to give a stiff arm to a $2 million dollar deal to play in China to declare for the G League Draft. That decision ultimately led to him getting selected by the Salt Lake City Stars as they had the 1st overall pick.
As a member of the Stars, Reed will look to re-establish himself as the dominating rim protector and offensive rebounder that ultimately pushed him from the G League to the NBA during the 2015-16 season. So far so good for the veteran big as he’s been a dominating presence with the Stars by averaging 32.5 points, 15 rebounds and 3 assists on 78% from the field. While that’s definitely an example of small sample size, as he’s only played two games, he’s definitely playing at a level that should allow him to return to the NBA in the near future.
11. Terrence Jones - Erie BayHawks: 19.3 pts, 7.2 rebs, 4.3 asts, 1.1 stls, 1.3 blks on 53% from field and 37% from beyond the arc on 2.7 attempts in 31 minutes per game with Santa Cruz Warriors in G League. 57% TS%, 54% eFG%. 10.5 pts, 5.7 rebs, 1 asts, 1.2 blks on 50% from field and 30% from beyond the arc in 24 minutes per game in 232 total NBA games. 55% TS%, 52% eFG%
After playing 238 games at the NBA level where he played with Houston, New Orleans and Milwaukee, Jones spent the 2017-18 season in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors. While he struggled with actually staying healthy during his time with the team, he stood as a pretty reliable scoring threat with that team as he averaged 19.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1 steals and 1.3 blocks per game on 53% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc.
The veteran forward returned to the G League for 2018-19 as a member of Erie BayHawks after Santa Cruz traded his rights to Erie in exchange for Beau Beech and a 4th round pick for the 2019 G League Draft. Although they barely traded anything to receive him, Erie will have a fantastic veteran forward that can help the team in a variety of different ways.