Note #1: This piece is part three of an ongoing series breaking down who we project to be the top 50 G League players for the upcoming 2019-20 season. In an easier way to select these players, we looked for guys that have already impressed against solid pro competition, whether they were in the G League, elite European leagues and even the NBA. That was due to how difficult it could be to project how former college players can perform at the G League level. If you want to catch up, click these links to check out part one, two, and three.
That was evident last year with former DII prospect Haywood Highsmith and 2018 All-American Trevon Bluiett. Highsmith shined at the G League level to the point where he landed a two-way with Meanwhile, Bluiett struggled due to getting inconsistent playing time with the Westchester Knicks and SLC Stars
Note #2: On Friday, November 1st, Northern Arizona Suns forward Troy Williams was arrested and charged with assault and disorderly in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Shortly after that, the Northern Arizona Suns released him from their training camp roster. Prior to that news, Williams was scheduled to be positioned in the top 30 of these rankings. However, that obviously won’t be the case due to his removal from the Suns roster. In response to that, we’ve made some changes to this list to reflect this recent news.
20. Jalen Jones - Capital City Go-Go: 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists on 45% from the field and 32% from 3 in 82 career G League games
Since the 2016-17 season, Jalen Jones has stood as one of the more explosive players that has stepped foot in the G League court. While alums like Derrick Jones and DJ Stephen stand at the top of that mountain, the Texas A&M alum stood a small step below. Standing at 6’7, 210 pounds, the forward was able to excel through utilizing a quick step and great acceleration to explode to the basket. With those traits, he was able to named to the G League’s All-Star game for his work during the 2016-17 season with the Maine Red Claws.
In the following year, he spent time with the Texas Legends and Greensboro Swarm due to being on a two-way with the New Orleans Pelicans, who didn’t have a G League affiliate at that time. Despite having to change teams over the course of the season, he still stood out as one of the best forwards through averaging 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on 47% from the field and 28% from 3 on 4.5 attempts per game. While his perimeter efficiency was lackluster, Jones still finished the season with a very respectable 57% True Shooting Percentage due to his regular ability to get to the free throw line.
After spending most of 2018-19 playing with Baskonia of the Spanish ACB and Euroleague, mixed with a very brief run with the Charge as a two-way player, Jones has returned to the G League again as part of the Capital City Go-Go. Honestly, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to his All-Star form as the veteran forward will be working alongside elite facilitating point guard Chris Chiozza
19. Jaron Blossomgame - RGV Vipers: 18.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per game on 46% from the field and 31% from three on 4.1 attempts per game with Canton Charge and RGV Vipers in the G League. 53% True Shooting Percentage
In the almost seven years that I’ve been covering the G League, one of the biggest reasons as to why some talented players stay in the minor league rather than getting a stable role with an NBA team is the lack of stable perimeter jumper. Some of the more notable examples of this over the past few years has been Briante Weber, DeAndre Liggins and Vander Blue. Because while they may be tremendous defenders (Weber & Liggins) or dynamic on-ball drivers (Blue), a lack of a perimeter jumper kept them from staying in a league that has become more reliant on long-range attacks.
One current G Leaguer that falls into that category is 6’7 forward Jaron Blossomgame, who will be entering his third season as a member of the RGV Vipers. Since making his debut with the Austin Spurs back in 2017-18, Blossomgame has stood as a pretty reliable player for whatever G League team he may be on. Able to contribute as an offensive rebounder, on/off-ball driver, facilitator and post-up weapon, he’s stood as a solid offensive weapon. All of that was seen during his rookie year where the forward averaged 16.5 points, 8 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 55% from the field and 30% from 3 on 1.5 attempts per game. That production allowed him to finish #43 on our top 50 list before the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
More than a full year after that ranking, Blossomgame’s stock has improved due to a solid sophomore year in the G League combined with showing flashes at the NBA level. In the minor league, he started the year with the Austin Spurs before finishing out the year with the Canton Charge due to signing a two-way deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although his efficiency took a little dip, he showed progress during his 2nd year with the team as he made statistical strides as a scorer, facilitator and shot blocker.
That production combined with him showing flashes at the NBA level has pushed him to finish in the top 20 on this list. Blossomgame will hope to improve his standing in basketball as a member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
18. David Stockton - South Bay Lakers: 8.7 points, 3.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds on 44% from the field and 42% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game with Medi Bayreuth in German BBL and Basketball Champions League
18 points, 7.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game on 45% from the field and 38% from 3 on 5.3 attempts per game in 142 career G League games. 56% True Shooting Percentage. 2.4 Ast/TO ratio
While he’s mostly known as the son of one of the best point guards in NBA history, David Stockton has established himself in a similar way at the G League level. Dating back to his rookie year with the Reno Bighorns (now Stockton Kings) back in the 2014-15 where he flirted with a double-double by averaging 20 points, 9.3 assists and 2.5 steals on 46% from the field and 40% from 3 on 5.8 attempts per game.
Although he hasn’t been able to recapture the magic of that fantastic rookie year, Stockton’s status as one of the league’s best point guards has persisted through being an efficient facilitator, perimeter threat and solid defender. That tremendous passing was shown in 2017-18 where he averaged 5.2 assists with a 2.4 Ast/TO ratio. Within that same season also represented his best play as a perimeter weapon as he shot 40% from beyond the arc on 4.9 attempts per game, the most efficient average in his career.
The great performance persisted when you look at his work on the other end of the court. During that 2017-18 season, the veteran guard averaged 1.7 steals per game, which placed him 14th in the league. Another example of his solid defense was seen from how opponents are three points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the court (104.9 points per 100) compared to when he was either sitting on the sidelines or in the NBA ( 107.7 points per 100).
After spending the 2018-19 season playing solid basketball with Medi Bayreuth of the German BBL, he’ll be back in the G League in 2019-20 with the South Bay Lakers. While he’ll have to compete for playing time with Gary Payton II and Demetrius Jackson, Stockton is honestly too good to not get minutes. Because while there may be more electrifying or athletic guards surrounding the league, the son of John has stood as arguably the most reliable back-court option since his rookie year.
17. Gary Payton II - South Bay Lakers: 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.9 steals per game on 47% from the field and 25% from 3 on 3.9 attempts per game with RGV Vipers and Capital City Go-Go. 51% True Shooting Percentage. 1.7 Ast/TO ratio
After talking about John Stockton’s son at the start of this piece, we move onto another sibling of a Basketball Hall of Famer that will play for the South Bay Lakers. While the aforementioned David stands as more of an offensive minded guy, the son of the Glove shines brightest on the other end of the court. During the 2018-19 season, Payton II was spectacular on that end of the court through averaging a league-best 2.9 steals per game. When he was with the RGV Vipers, teams were three points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the court (101.3 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the sidelines (104.3 points per 100).
Aside from being a tremendous defender, Payton II has been a solid lead guard on any G League team he’s been on. Although consistency has been an issue, as he maintained a 51% True Shooting Percentage in 2018-19, his ability to get to the rim and throw drive-and-dish passes has allowed him to be a positive part of a team’s backcourt.
Now entering his fourth season as a pro, Payton II will be joining the South Bay Lakers. Although the team already has two solid point guards in Demetrius Jackson and David Stockton, the 6’3 guard should still be a key part of the team due to his play on the defensive end.
16. Devin Robinson - Raptors 905: 19.9 points, 8,1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals on 55% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc on 3.6 attempts per game with the Capital City Go-Go. 62% True Shooting Percentage
There arguably wasn’t a more exciting player in the G League last year than Wizards two-way player last year. With tremendous bounce and a ridiculously long wingspan, Robinson was a highlight waiting to happen when he was moving down the court, no matter if he had the ball in his hands or just gliding on his own. Those traits combined with explosiveness that allowed him to quickly move past defenders were the keys behind some of the most impressive slams that the G League has ever seen.
In addition to laying down some amazing slams, Robinson was a very solid player with the Capital City Go-Go that stood as a well-rounded player that averaged 19.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals on 55% from the field and 30% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game. Those shooting percentages allowed him to maintain a solid 61% True Shooting Percentage.
Unfortunately, his time with the team was limited as Robinson only played 22 games with Capital City. Although some of that may be due to playing seven games up in the NBA with the Wizards, a hip injury kept him sidelined for the last two months of the G League season.
One year later, Robinson will return to the G League as a member of the Raptors 905. For the first time in his career, he’ll be a standard G League player, as he spent his first two years as a two-way guy with the Wizards. It won’t be surprising to see him make a return to the NBA as Robinson will be in a good position to put up great numbers due to working alongside both Tyler Ennis and Shamorie Ponds.
15. Tyler Ennis. - Raptors 905: 4.2 points, 1.9 assists, 1.3 rebounds on 42% from the field and 32% from 3 on 1.1 attempts per game in 186 total NBA games. 48% True Shooting Percentage.
18.4 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals on 48% from the field and 33% from 3 on 5 attempts per game in 9 games with Bakersfield Jam in 2014-15. 2.1 Ast/TO ratio
Following a great freshman season with Syracuse, where he was named to the All-ACC Second Team, Ennis declared for the 2014 NBA Draft. That decision worked for the young point guard as the Phoenix Suns picked him with the 18th overall pick. Going to Phoenix was probably the worst spot that he could’ve gone to as the team started the year having Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. As all of those players have spent most of their career playing point guard, Ennis played more in the G League than he did with Phoenix. Recognizing that predicament, the Suns traded Ennis to the Milwaukee Bucks on February 21st, 2015, just eight months after getting drafted.
Starting with that run with Milwaukee, Ennis spent the remainder of that run in the NBA as an inconsistent guard that played inconsistent minutes. In his 186 games with the Suns, Bucks, Rockets and Lakers, he averaged 4.2 points, 1.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game on 42% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc in 13 minutes per game.
After getting waived by the Lakers in July 2018, the guard made his way over to Turkey to play with Fenebahce Ulker of the Euroleague. After putting up solid numbers in limited minutes, he suffered an awful ankle injury on October 21st that kept him out for the season.
More than a year after that horrible incident, Ennis will be back on a basketball court as a member of the Raptors 905. Not only will the Canadian-born guard play in his home country, he’ll get a chance to play with arguably the best G League organization when it comes to developing players and pushing them to the NBA.
14. Ray Spalding - RGV Vipers: 15.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks on 51% from the field for the Texas Legends. 54% True Shooting Percentage
Earlier this week, the Ridiculous Upside Twitter account posted a tweet stating that current RGV Vipers center Ray Spalding stood as a dark horse candidate to be the G League MVP. While that may have been surprising to some, it makes sense when you look back at his rookie run with the Texas Legends.
Because for a player that was just starting his pro career, the 6’10 center was outstanding on the defensive end through being the only player to average at least 1.5 steals and 2 blocks per game. While with Texas, opponents were three points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the court (109.5 points per 100 ) compared to when he was on the sidelines or with the Dallas Mavericks.
That tremendous defense combined with him being a legitimate double-double threat allowed him to be one of the league’s better front-court options last year. One season later, the 22-year-old big will be with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Although that roster is loaded with tremendous talent, the traits that we’ve mentioned over the course of this piece could honestly allow Spalding to be the featured act on that roster.
13. Andrew Harrison - Santa Cruz Warriors: 7 points, 2.7 assists and 2 rebounds on 37% from the field and 30% from 3 on 2.2 attempts per game in 145 career games with Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans. 50% True Shooting Percentage. 2.2 Ast/TO ratio
18.5 points, 4.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals on 44% from the field and 36% from 3 on 4.5 attempts per game in 2015-16 season with Iowa Energy (now Wolves). 57% True Shooting Percentage. 1.5 Ast/TO ratio
Back during the 2017-18 season, then-Memphis Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison ended the year on a high note. During the last 10 games, he put up 14.2 points, 4.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds on 44% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc on 3.7 attempts per game. That run was highlighted by him flirting with a double-double in a March 24th game against the Lakers where he put up 20 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds on 7-15 from the field, 1-5 from 3 and 5-6 from the free throw line.
Despite that solid play late in the season, the Grizzlies waived Harrison before the start of the 2018-19 season. That move from Memphis was the cog that ultimately led the Kentucky alum to have a tumultuous season. Over the course of two months, he was signed to two-way deals by both the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans. Unfortunately, his time with both teams was extremely limited as he signed a deal with Russian squad Khimki on February 28th, 2019.
One year after that rough run, Andrew Harrison will be starting the year in the G League for the first time since the 2014-15 season. During that run with Iowa Energy, his knack as an on-ball driver that can also shine as a perimeter weapon allowed the rookie to be one of the best young guards in the G League. Five years later, he’ll be a veteran presence with the Santa Cruz Warriors. While the team will feature solid backcourt threats like Jared Cunningham, Jeremy Pargo, Vander Blue and Damion Lee, his past success in the NBA and G League leaves optimism that Harrison can get a consistent role and shine with Santa Cruz.
12. Milton Doyle - Windy City Bulls: 20.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 42% from the field and 37% from 3 on 8.9 attempts per game in 2017-18 with Long Island Nets. 53% True Shooting Percentage. 1.3 Ast/TO ratio
Following a rough inaugural season in 2016-17 where they finished 17-33, the Long Island Nets needed players that could turn their fate around in the following year. Lucky enough, they found that man in Milton Doyle, who came to the team after a stellar four-year career with Loyola- Chicago of the Missouri Valley Conference. From the jump, the 6’4 guard Milton Doyle immediately stood as one of the best rookies in the G League through his work on the offensive end.
With nice handles and an explosive first step, the rookie guard was able regularly able to get to the paint, which sometimes led to nice rim-rocking dunks. Driving isn’t the only way he utilized those handles and quickness as the Loyola-Chicago alum shown frequent flashes as a drive-and-dish facilitator. In addition to his on-ball work, Doyle was a very solid perimeter shooter that combined volume with efficiency as he shot 37% on 8.9 attempts per game. That solid percentage is impressive when you realize that a lot of those made shots came through working off-the-dribble as he hit a lot of step-back jumpers.
After a solid rookie year with Long Island, which included a short run with Brooklyn as a two-way player, Doyle made the trek to Spain to play with UCAM Murcia of the Basketball Champions League and ACB. He impressed with that team through putting up 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 40% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts per game.
While that type of play could’ve led to Doyle receiving a more lucrative overseas offer, he decided to sign an Exhibit 10 deal with the Chicago Bulls back in September. However, his time with the big league club was short as he joined numerous other Exhibit 10 prospects on the waiver wire.
That series of events has led to Doyle returning to the G League as a member of the Windy City Bulls. With that new team, the expectations are high as the 3rd-year player will be surrounded by solid weapons like Nuggets two-way player PJ Dozier, Bulls two-way player Max Strus and some intriguing young players that the Bulls brought in as Exhibit 10 players. Those weapons could give Doyle some open jumpers and guys to dish it off to as a facilitator.
11. Henry Ellenson - Long Island Nets (two-way with Brooklyn): 4.3 points, 2.5 rebounds on 38% from the field and 35% from 3 on 1.7 attempts per game with Detroit and New York. 49% True Shooting Percentage
19 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists on 41% from the field and 34% from 3 on 5.9 attempts per game in 31 career G League games. 55% True Shooting Percentage
Earlier in this piece, we did a brief overview of the career of current Raptors 905 guard Tyler Ennis. After getting selected high in the 2014 NBA Draft, he wasn’t able to really get momentum in the Association through being in bad situations and getting inconsistent playing time. Those two different reasons ultimately led the guard to spending a lot of time in the G League.
One player whose career path has closely resembled Ennis would be Henry Ellenson. Like the Candian-born counterpart, the 6’11 forward was taken high, as he was picked by the Detroit Pistons with the 18th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. While Detroit selected him in the 1st round, the Marquette alum didn’t get an opportunity to shine as he was slotted behind Jon Leuer, Tobias Harris, and Aron Baynes. That predicament to only playing a total of 146 minutes at the NBA level.
Things didn’t improve in subsequent seasons as he only played 328 total minutes in 2017-18 before only playing two games in the following year. That lack of playing time ultimately pushed the Pistons to waive Ellenson on February 11th. Fortunately, the forward was picked up by the New York Knicks just nine days later on the 20th of that month. In 17 games with the Knicks, he played decent basketball by putting up 6 points, 3.5 rebounds on 41% from the field and 45% from 3 on 2 attempts in 14 minutes per game. Those numbers allowed him to maintain a 54% True Shooting Percentage, an average even better than what he had with Marquette.
Although he’s struggled in the NBA, the forward was solid whenever he was in the G League. In 31 career games at that level, the forward has stood as a stable double-double threat that can also spread the court.
The Brooklyn Nets will hope that he’ll be able to build on that solid play as they’ll have Ellenson on a two-way contract for the 2019-20 season. While he’ll have a chance to spend up to 45 days with the NBA team, he should spend most of his time down in the G League with the Long Island Nets. Due to being surrounded by weapons like Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot, Jaylen Hands and Deng Adel, the veteran forward will have a chance to build upon that past G League success.
10. Kadeem Allen - Westchester Knicks (two-way with New York): 15.3 points, 6.7 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals on 45% from the field and 41% from 3 on 2.3 attempts per game with Westchester Knicks. 53% True Shooting Percentage. 2.3 Ast/TO ratio.
10 points, 4 assists, .8 steals on 46% from the field and 47% from 3 on 1.9 attempts per game in 22 minutes per game with the New York Knicks. 57% True Shooting Percentage and 2.9 Ast/TO ratio
To be honest, Kadeem Allen shouldn’t be in his current position as a player with an NBA deal featured on this top 50 list.. Unlike some players that have been featured in this countdown, Allen was not a highly regarded five or four star prospect coming out of high school. In fact, he was the textbook definition of an unknown quantity to the point of spending his first two years post-high school graduation playing for a small junior college in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The North Carolina native was able to fit into his new Midwest home to the point where he won the NJCAA Player of the Year award for the 2013-14 season where averaging 26 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists on 46% from the field. Following that run, the young guard was picked up by the Arizona Wildcats. From the jump, he fit in nicely as a defensive-minded guard that can also get to the free throw line and throw the occasional assist. Those traits led to him getting named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team for the 2016-17 campaign.
After going undrafted, Allen signed a two-way deal with the Boston Celtics. However, most of his rookie year was spent with the Maine Red Claws, where he immediately shined as an elite defender in his new league. In 34 games, he averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game on 45% from the field. Despite that solid play in the G League, Boston waived him at the start of the 2018 offseason.
While he was solid with Maine, the following 2018-19 season might stand as the best season of his entire NBA career. That claim might not make sense when you just look at standard G League numbers as he averaged 15.3 points, 6.7 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals on 45% from the field and 41% from 3 on 2.3 attempts per game with Westchester. While those numbers are solid, it’s what he did on the other end of his two-way deal with New York.
Due to New York’s rough backcourt and status as an also-ran, the team gave Allen a spot in their rotation to prove himself. He excelled at that task by putting up 10 points, 4 assists and 2.7 rebounds on 46% from the field and 47% from 3 on 2 attempts in 22 minutes per game. Even if you look away from that obscene perimeter percentage, the young guard looked like a bonafide NBA player.
Due to New York’s penchant for snagging former elite NBA Draft prospects like Elfrid Payton, Allen will remain on a two-way deal for 2019-20. Although he might not get that opportunity with the big league club this year, Allen’s amazing defense, facilitating and ability to get to the rim will yet again allow him to be one of the G League’s best guards.