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Walt Lemon Jr. Is Becoming A Star In The G League

Contributor Dedrick Hendrix examines how Walt Lemon is turning into a star in the NBA G League

Photo courtesy of Cary Gerber - Fort Wayne News Sentinel

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants head into the All-Star break with a 21-15 record, and remain in 1st place in the Central Division in the Eastern Conference. While Ike Anigbogu, DeQuan Jones and Edmund Sumner have been phenomenal for the Indiana Pacers NBA G League affiliate, Walt Lemon Jr. has been the standout star in Fort Wayne. Lemon Jr. is currently averaging 22.7 points, 5.9 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game. Not to mention, he’s 4th (tied with South Bay Lakers guard Alex Caruso in the G League in steals per game with 2.1.

As someone who attends games quite frequently, fans have definitely recognized Lemon Jr. as a star. I don’t always converse with the fans, but I certainly hear what is said and take it into consideration. The ongoing perception of the NBA G League is that there isn’t any star power.

Once players begin to flourish, they’re recalled to their NBA affiliate. In fact, if Lemon Jr. was on almost any other team in the G League, he more than likely would have been suiting up for an NBA team by now. However, due to the combination of the Pacers’ success (5th in the Eastern Conference), and sensational seasons by guards Victor Oladipo, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph, there isn’t much room for Lemon Jr. on the roster.

On February 10th, in the Mad Ants 122-103 victory over the Maine Red Claws, Lemon Jr. became the first Mad Ants’ player to record 40 or more points in a game since Tony Mitchell (Sioux Falls Skyforce.) The scariest of it all, is he is getting better and better as the season progresses. It’s not just his individual stats that impress people though. His productivity is contagious and his teammates thrive off of it.

A great example of that is seen from how the Mad Ants are much better on offense when Lemon is playing. Per 100 possessions they’re five points better when he’s on the court (109.3 points per 100) compared to when he’s on the sidelines (103.4 points per 100).

To conclude, this is what makes the NBA G League special folks. It gives guys like Lemon Jr. from a smaller college, Bradley University an opportunity for a pro career. It’s fair to say, thus far he’s exceeded expectations and has the Mad Ants playing great ball in their hopes to clinch their division in the second half of the season. ​