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Top Rookie Performers of the G League

A look at some of the players who got off to strong starts in their G League debuts.

Washington Wizards v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2019-20 G League season is officially underway. Several players are experiencing the G League for the first time. The past few days have seen some pretty strong and impressive performances for a few of those players.

Some of these players are on two-way contracts and will probably get NBA experience at some point in the season, while others could be prime candidates for a call-up as the season progresses. Here’s a look at some of the top early performers of the G League within these past few days.

1. James Palmer Jr. – Agua Caliente Clippers

Northern Arizona Suns v Agua Caliente Clippers Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

James Palmer was a pretty highly touted recruit coming out of St. John’s College High School back in 2014. He ended up at the University of Miami, but ultimately transferred to Nebraska. He went undrafted this past summer and this is his first go-round in the G League.

He dropped 40 points on 15-19 shooting from the field in his first game against the Northern Arizona Suns. The Clippers needed every point to as they squeaked by with a 121-120 win. He followed that up with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Oklahoma City Blue. Palmer is a shooting guard with a strong ability to get to the rim. He’s good in transition and he finishes well with contact.

2. Lugentz Dort – Oklahoma City Blue

2019 NBA Draft Combine Portraits Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Lugentz Dort was one of the most impressive freshmen in the Pac-12 Conference last season. He won the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Award as well as making the All-Defensive Team. At the end of the season, he decided to forgo his college eligibility and enter the NBA draft. He went undrafted but did sign a two-way deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In his first G League game, a win over the South Bay Lakers, Dort dropped 35 points, five rebounds, and five assists. He displayed his ability to attack the rim and get himself to the free-throw line, as well as his solid outside shooting. He’ll probably spend most of his season in the G League, but if he keeps this up, the Thunder might call him back a few times this season.

3. Marial Shayok – Delaware Blue Coats

Maine Red Claws v Delaware Blue Coats ]#35 of the Delaware Blue Coats shoots a jump shot during an NBA G League game on November 9, 2019 at the 76ers Fieldhouse Powered by BPG|Sports in Wilmington, DE. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Mike Lawrence/NBAE via Getty Images

Marial Shayok played his first three college basketball seasons at Virginia, but opted to transfer to Iowa State for his senior year. His senior year was his best yet as he was named to the First-Team All-Big 12 as well as being named the Big 12 Tournament MVP. He was one of the top players at the postseason Portsmouth Invitational for the nation’s top college seniors.

Shayok was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, and they ultimately signed him to a two-way contract. He had a strong opening game against the Maine Red Claws with 34 points, six rebounds, and three assists. He followed that up with 42 points and nine rebounds against the Greensboro Swarm. It might be hard for the Sixers to keep him in the G League if he continues to perform like this.

4. Jared Harper – Northern Arizona Suns

Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Jared Harper was one of the top high school basketball players in Georgia during his high school career. He had a couple of Division 1 offers, and ultimately chose to attend Auburn. He moved into the starting lineup right away as a freshman, and improved each season. He went undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft after declaring as a junior and signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns.

Another newcomer to the G League, Harper had 34 points, five rebounds, and eight assists in his season debut against the Agua Caliente Clippers. Harper may be a bit undersized for a point guard, but don’t let that distract you. He’s quick off the dribble and solid at making plays for himself or his teammates. Look for him to be transferred to Phoenix at some point this seasons.

5. Jeremiah Martin – Sioux Falls Skyforce

Memphis v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Yet another rookie in the G League, Jeremiah Martin was one of the top players in the AAC Conference while at the University of Memphis. He was one of the standouts of the Portsmouth Invitational yet went undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft. He ended up in camp with the Miami Heat, but was cut and signed with their G League affiliate.

In his G League debut, Martin put 30 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Iowa Wolves. He followed that up with a 26 point, seven assist, and four steals effort against the Salt Lake City Stars. He’s a solid scorer with a good perimeter shot and he’s strong at finishing with contact at the rim. A good candidate to keep an eye on as the season goes on for a possible call-up.