The 2019 G League draft is here. Each season, the talent level in the G League seems to be rising with a very thin line between end of the bench NBA players and some of the top talent in the G.
The league released the list of draft-eligible players yesterday with close to 140 players hoping to hear their name called. The draft consists of four-rounds and 112 picks total. Players appearing on the list area mixture of overseas pros, players who went undrafted in the NBA draft, players who participated in G League open tryouts, and some veterans looking for a path back to the NBA.
Looking through the list, there are a few recognizable names that stand a good chance of being drafted. Here’s a look at some of the more notable names who are looking to revitalize their careers in the G League.
1. Hasheem Thabeet
Despite being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, Hasheem Thabeet had a rough time adapting to the pro level. Once thought to be a potential double-double threat and interior defensive anchor, Thabeet never managed over 13 minutes per game in five seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Before the 2014-15 season, he joined the Detroit Pistons for training camp but was cut before the season began. He ended up playing in the G League that season for the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit’s affiliate. His only other professional basketball experience since washing out of the NBA was during the 2017-18 season with the Yokohama B-Corsairs in Japan.
Thabeet’s size still leaves some hope that perhaps he could play himself into a dependable backup big man in the NBA for a few minutes off the bench to rebound and block shots. A strong season in the G League could put him back on NBA radars.
2. Trevon Duval
Trevon Duval seemed destined for stardom. He was a highly touted recruit in high school and a McDonald’s All-American. He ended up having only a decent freshman year at Duke, and he didn’t hear his name called in the 2018 NBA draft. He played for the Houston Rockets during summer league and eventually signed a two-way contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Duval spent most of last season playing the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s G League affiliate. He only saw playing time in three games with Bucks, and they ended up cutting him towards the end of the season. He was scooped up by the Houston Rockets, but ultimately let go in the summertime.
Duval is a scoring guard who can be explosive when attacking the rim. He worked out for a few NBA teams in the offseason, but nothing materialized. He’s another player who should benefit greatly from the G League and could be in line for a call-up as the season progress.
3. Vander Blue
Vander Blue is no stranger to the G League. Since 2013, he’s played for the Delaware 87ers (now Delaware Blue Coats), Maine Red Claws, Idaho Stampede (now Salt Lake City Stars), Los Angeles D-Fenders (now South Bay Lakers), Wisconsin Herd, and Texas Legends. He’s also managed a few stints overseas in Israel and Italy, and stints with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.
Blue has always been a standout player in the G League, winning the league’s MVP award during the 2016-17 season with the D-Fenders. It was his strong play that led to those NBA call-ups. Prior to the 2017-18 season, he actually signed a two-way deal with the LA Lakers but was cut around midseason.
Blue is still relatively young at 27 years old. He still has some game left in the tank to show NBA teams that he could be a valuable scoring wing off of some team’s bench. Even if he doesn’t get drafted in the G League draft, he’ll probably still latch on with a team before the season begins.
4. Kerwin Roach II
Kerwin Roach was one of the standout players at the Professional Basketball Combine back in May at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, CA. He opted to test the 2018 NBA draft waters following his junior year at Texas but ultimately decided on returning to school for his senior year. He didn’t hear his name called and played summer league with the Charlotte Hornets.
Roach was impressive at the PBC due to his athletic ability and his natural instincts and feel for the game. When he first arrived as a freshman at Texas, he was little more than a defensive stopper who could jump out of the gym. He developed himself into a combo guard who can shoot and be a playmaker.
It was a little surprising that Roach didn’t manage to latch on with an NBA team at least for training camp. But he should be selected in the G League draft and be given an opportunity to show that he can play in the NBA.
5. Maalik Wayns
Maalik Wayns is another longtime veteran who spent the early years of his professional basketball career between the NBA and the G League. He went undrafted in the 2012 NBA draft, and a strong summer league earned a spot on the Philadelphia 76ers opening night roster. The Sixers ended up cutting him and he finished the rest of the season with the Los Angeles Clippers after a few months with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
He began the 2013-14 season with the Clippers before they cut him and rejoined the Valley Vipers. He had a brief stint with the then Delaware 87ers in 2015, before journeying overseas where he’s been since. He’s now back stateside looking to get back into the G League as a means to possibly return to the NBA.
Wayns is a decent point guard who, should he ever return to the NBA, could be a pretty solid option off of a team’s bench. He’s a decent enough shooter from the outside and his playmaking ability is good enough for a few minutes here and there. He’ll get a shot to try and get back there.