On Friday night, the Sioux Falls Skyforce beat a depleted Agua Caliente Clippers squad in a high-scoring 135-120 blowout. G League veteran Raphiael Putney was one of the biggest keys behind that victory as he led the team with 24 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocks on 9-15 from the field, 3-8 from beyond the arc and 3-4 from the FT line in 35 minutes. Putney’s great performance helped push the Skyforce to pull within three games of the Western Conference-leading Santa Cruz Warriors.
In addition to helping Sioux Falls keep their position in a jam-packed Western Conference, Putney’s performance helped etch his name in the G League record books. With his four blocks in that win against the AC Clippers, he passed Cezary Trybanski to become the G League’s All-Time Blocks Leader.
Putney breaking that record came through the trifecta of hard work, persistence and just being unlucky. That first trait is evident when you actually watch him play as Putney works his tail off on defense as he loves to work to the weak side to block shots. Meanwhile, persistence has pushed him to remain in the G League as he’s spent four out of his five years as a pro playing in this league for either the RGV Vipers, Erie BayHawks and now the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
No matter which team he’s on, he’s been able to consistently shine as one of the best forwards in the G League due to his work on both ends of the court. That consistent play is evident by him averaging 15 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1 steal and 2.1 blocks on 45% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 5.8 attempts per game during his career in the league.
While that great play has made him beneficial to any team that he’s on, his luckless nature has allowed him to remain in the G League without getting an opportunity in the NBA. Sure, he’s been a consistent presence in Summer League and was on the Miami Heat’s training camp roster this year but he’s never received a single 10-day contract despite his consistent excellence at the G League level.
That inability for Putney to get on an NBA roster is surprising. Because, you’d think that a mobile 6’9 forward that can protect the rim, defend multiple position, drive to the paint and hit the occasional perimeter jumper should allow him to fit nicely in a league that’s reliant on spacing. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case as the 6’9, 192 pound forward is in the G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce as we reach the twilight of the 2018-19 season.
Despite the frustration that comes with those circumstances, the veteran forward keeps pushing on for another day to reach his NBA dreams come true. “All I have to say is continue to work hard and have patience in what you do. The work will speak for itself,” Putney said in a statement to Ridiculous Upside. “Just keep believing.”