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Ridiculous Upside’s 2017-18 NBA G League Rookie of the Year Finalists

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Ridiculous Upside gives their six finalists for 2017-18 NBA G League Rookie of the Year.

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Antonio Blakeney - Windy City Bulls

32 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals per game on 46% from field and 35% from beyond the arc

Due to him also being in the running for MVP, which we wrote about last week, I’m going to keep this brief due to not wanting to repeat anything that I previously said. As a rookie, Blakeney undoubtedly had the best season in G League history as his 32 points per game average is is 6.5 points better than the previous record holder Erick Green, who averaged 25.5 points back in the 2015-16 season. With that kind of amazing performance, there’s a really, really good chance that he’ll win this word.

Johnathan Motley - Texas Legends

22.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.1 blocks on 56% from field

As one of the first players in the NBA to sign a two-way deal, there was a lot of intrigue surrounding Motley to see how he’d perform on both the G League and NBA level. Although that NBA part is still a question mark, as he’s only played a total of 30 minutes at that level, there’s no doubt that he has been phenomenal with the Texas Legends.

As evident by him flirting with averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, he stood as an absolute force on both the glass and on the offensive end. Unsurprisingly, his success in both of those ends allowed him to collect 3.2 offensive boards per game.

Aside from crashing the offensive glass, Motley has shined in a variety of different other areas on that end of the court. For one, he was a force in the pick-and-roll as opposing teams were just unable to stop the quick 6’100 and 230 pound forward when he’s rolling to the basket. That got even worse when he had the ball in his hand as Motley was comfortable with handling the rock, mostly with his right, as the athletic forward can move his way to the paint before going hard at the rim.

Those traits combined with his great work inside the low-post and as a facilitator (we’ll get to those in a future piece) helped push the Legends to their first playoff berth in franchise history.

Milton Doyle - Long Island Nets

20.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 42% from field and 37% from beyond the arc

To be honest, Doyle is probably one of the most surprising stories of this G League season, in my opinion. Due to him coming in from a lesser-known school in Loyola-Chicago (well... that has changed) and just being unable to find full games of his time in college, I overlooked him when he made his way to the Nets as an affiliate player. I quickly learned how big of a mistake it was to overlook Doyle as he just shined as one of the most entertaining guards in the entire G League.

From an offensive perspective, Doyle stands as that prototypical guard that NBA teams look for. That description stands from his physical features as he’s a strong 6’4, 184 pound point guard. In addition to that, he’s quick and athletic which usually gives him an opportunity to get to the rim whenever he desires. When he isn’t shining as a driver, Doyle is killing opposing teams with his perimeter stroke as he shot 37% from beyond the arc on 8.9 perimeter attempts per game.

Although his offensive are appealing to the eye, Doyle’s work as a perimeter defender might actually be more impressive. From the time he landed in Long Island, Doyle impressed as one of the better backcourt defenders in the league as his strong frame and work ethic allowed him to shine in that area. Aside from averaging 1.5 steals per game, Doyle’s presence pushed opponents to average five points per game less when he was on the court (103 points per game) compared to when he was on the bench ( 108.6 points per game).

Amile Jefferson - Iowa Wolves

17.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals per game on 62% from field

After a solid but yet unspectacular career at Duke, Amile Jefferson came to the Iowa Wolves as someone that I unfortunately overlooked. Like Milton Doyle, my ignorance ended up biting me in the butt as Jefferson stood as arguably the best front-court player in the NBA G League. Most of his shine came from his sheer dominance as his 12.8 rebounds per game average stands 2nd in G League history behind former Florida Flame standout Dwayne Jones, who collected 13.5 rebounds per during his long G League career.

Looking away from his work as a rebounder, Jefferson is a great low-post threat that can really get it done on either the left or right block. In addition to that, he’s an incredibly solid facilitator for a player his size as he can throw precise passes whether he’s working in the pinch post, post-up or even in transition.

Jefferson’s great play in the G League pushed the Minnesota Timberwolves to sign him to a two-way deal back in January. While he hasn’t played a single second at the NBA level, Jefferson has done a good job of utilizing the G League to get a great start to his pro career.

Rodney Purvis - Lakeland Magic

20.5 points, 3.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game on 42% from field and 39% from beyond the arc

From the moment that Purvis entered the G League in November, he seemed right at home in the fast-paced style that most teams play. That immediate comfort level combined with his wide-array of offensive skills allowed him to be an immediate offensive powerhouse.

Before the All-Star break, he lit it up as he averaged 20.8 points, 4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game on 42% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. Shortly after the break, he signed a deal with the Orllando Magic, which has paid immediate dividends for both Purvis and that team. At the time of me writing this piece, he’s averaging 6.3 points on 57% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on 2.7 perimeter attempts per game.

Although his run in the G League could be over (there’s a small chance he makes his way to Lakeland for the playoffs), I still think his terrific offensive play is enough to warrant him being on a finalist for Rookie of the Year.

Jaron Blossomgame - Austin Spurs

16.5 points, 8 rebounds, 1.3 assists on 54% from field and 30% from 3

Last but certainly not least, Jaron Blossomgame makes this list due to his great work on both ends of the court. On the offensive end, he’s one of the best rim-running forwards in the G League as his athleticism combined with his strong 6’7 and 220 pound frame makes him into a potential highlight whenever he’s running down the court in transition. Alongside his terrific play in transition, he can get it done on the right block as his turnaround fadeaway was money throughout the season as he shot 58% from the field on that particular shot.

Blossomgame’s work on the offensive end allowed him to be the 3rd option behind Derrick White and Darrun Hilliard on an elite Austin Spurs team. However, he also made an impact on defense as opponents were three points better when he was on the bench (105.7 points per game) compared to when he’s on the bench (102.3 points per game).