The NBA G League Elite Mini-Camp is a place where the minor league’s up and comers go to shine. Such youngsters can use all the exposure they can get and this aforementioned competition is a tremendous platform. Youth is a valuable asset, but experience can be, too. With that in mind, there were more than a handful of veterans (many with NBA experience) that had no issues with remaining humble and continuing their grind in Chicago this week.
“Nick Johnson and Scott Machado battled all year long,” Northern Arizona Suns associate head coach Tylin Gatlin said about the pair or former Rockets guards. “They logged heavy minutes, but the ironic thing is they were reserves a good chunk of the time. The Spurs had a lot of assignees going down. Alex Caruso was back and forth between Los Angeles and South Bay. Johnson was coming off the bench, so was Machado. Their production never wavered. Johnson was The Finals MVP for Austin. Both guys turned around and came back to the Elite Mini-Camp to cement what they’ve already proven.“
“Johnson wasn’t messing around. He knows how to compete and take care of his body. No rust at all,” Gatlin said following the camp. “He made plays out of the pick and roll and had a solid jumper. I like Nick because he competes hard defensively.”
“[Former Nets and Suns guard] Archie Goodwin dominated. He shot a ton of layups and got where he wanted to on the floor,” he added. “He made some good passes and as an NBA athlete, Archie is all arms and legs. He flies around the court and goes after loose balls. I was proud of him.”
Despite not reaching the NBA just yet, someone like LaDontae Hinton, a veteran of two G League seasons with international experience, respectively, isn’t far behind, Gatlin pointed out. “He can score in a variety of ways, from three or in the post. He’s been in the G League for a few years and his body of work is one thing. But in an environment like this, you can really tell he knows what he’s doing.”
These players are somewhat known commodities, which can up their stock but also put a target on their backs.
“Machado’s a guy that everyone will go after. They can make a name for themselves by stealing the ball from him. He made shots, but he’s a guy who has a good attitude even when he’s struggling,” Gatlin explained. “Scott was cheering on his teammates and throwing the guns up every time someone hit a three. That’s the kind of stuff that NBA people notice. Scott has a presence about him and isn’t afraid of feedback he may receive.”
Still, these players in their mid-twenties may benefit because they’ve already been exposed to the professional side and could be ready to make an impact at the next level, much sooner than an incoming NBA rookie class faced with making new adjustments.
“You’ve got rookies coming in that have a tough task of beating these guys out of a two-way contract or last remaining spots on an NBA roster,” the coach asserted. “They don’t have that experience. These 19 and 20 year old guys aren’t going to have an easy time.”
Machado and Co. proved simply by attending the camp that they were humble and eager to compete, regardless of the circumstances. That says a lot about each one’s character, and it’s safe to say that the leg work they continue to put in should eventually result in a advantage over fellow competitors.