This piece is part two of an ongoing series where we take a look at the twenty G Leaguers that could get two-way contracts this summer. Before reading this piece, you can check out the first part where we take a look at our first five players.
Emanuel Terry - Canton Charge & Sioux Falls Skyforce
10.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.4 blocks on 58% from field with Canton Charge & Sioux Falls Skyforce
To say that Terry’s rookie season was a convoluted mess would be an understatement. That whole process started in training camp as he spent the period with two teams, the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers. During the majority of that time, he was with Denver before getting waived on October 10th. On the following day, the Cavaliers signed him to only waive him on October 13th. That quick succession of moves came with the idea of the 6’9 forward eventually playing in the G League with the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate
Due to the presence of JaCorey Williams, Bonzie Colson and Jaron Blossomgame, Terry had a limited role with the Charge as he only played 22 minutes per game. Within that restricted role, the Lincoln Memorial alum was still able to impress as he averaged 8.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Thankfully, the Sioux Falls Skyforce recognized Terry’s great play in limited minutes as they sent guard Malik Newman to the Charge in exchange for the rookie forward in a January 5th trade.
For once, Terry had great timing as his arrival in Sioux Falls coincided with stud two-way player Yante Maten spending more time with the Miami Heat. Now playing a more expanded 29 minutes per game, the forward did a great job of utilizing that increased opportunity to his advantage by putting up 13.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 blocks on 58% from the field. From an offensive perspective, those numbers mostly came through Terry utilizing a combination of quickness, athleticism and effort. Those ingredients are seen when you watch him play as the 6’9 forward spends his time crashing the boards or working as the roll man in pick-and rolls, where he stands as a fantastic alley-oop threat.
Terry doing a great job of utilizing those tools caught the attention of NBA squads as both the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat signed him to separate 10-day deals. While he played a combined 23 minutes with those two squads, the act of him getting signed multiple times is a sign that teams throughout the Association have their eyes on the young forward. Rightfully so as he’s shined as an extremely athletic front-court player that can crash the boards, go up for alley-oops and protect the rim. Due to the combination of past NBA experience and unique skill-set, it would not be surprising to see Terry get signed to a two-way deal this summer.
Cameron Oliver - Delaware Blue Coats
15.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.2 blocks on 59% from field for Delaware Blue Coats
Sticking with explosive forwards, 2nd year prospect Cameron Oliver started the 2018-19 season on an absolute tear. On a struggling Blue Coats squad that finished the year at 21-29, the forward stood as one of the lone bright spots by being someone that can be a tremendous contributor on both ends of the court. That status is evident by him averaging 15.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.2 blocks on 59% from the field in only 27 minutes per game. That solid production within that limited playing time is made even more impressive when you realize that Oliver maintained a stellar 65% True Shooting Percentage, which allowed him to be one of the most efficient prospects in the league.
Oliver’s tremendous run with Delaware took an unfortunate turn when he dislocated his right ankle in a January 29th game against the Grand Rapids Drive. Of course, that injury prematurely ended his 2018-19 season, which was unfortunate for multiple reasons. For one, it was clear that the forward was playing the best basketball in his entire career as his numbers greatly exceeded what he did with Nevada.
In addition to that, if Oliver was able to continue that fantastic play, it would be very likely that a big league squad would sign him to a 10-day deal towards the end of the season to see how he’d stack up against NBA competition.
While Oliver’s journey back to the court will probably be arduous, him suffering a torn ACL shouldn’t deter NBA teams from still giving him a shot. Because when he was healthy, Oliver stood as one of the best front-court players in the entire G League because of his knack to shine on both ends of the court.
Offensively, he was an elite big for guards to work with in the pick-and-roll as he’s a big 225 pound target with soft hands that can either catch while on the run or go up for alley-oop slams. In addition to that, he can use his tremendous hops to crash the glass or use underrated court vision to help out his teammates. Among those two traits, his potential as a facilitator is probably the most exciting as this video shows that he does a nice job of dishing the ball off to teammates whether he’s working in the low or pinch post.
On the other end of the court, Oliver was honestly one of the best defenders in the league. Part of that is shown by how he joined 2019 G League MVP Chris Boucher, current Grizzlies forward Bruno Caboclo and Suns rookie Ray Spalding as the only players in the league to average at least one steal and two blocks per game.As of now, Oliver is the only player within that quartet that isn’t currently part of an NBA team.
Will that change this summer? It should. While there are legitimate concerns about how he’ll be able to bounce back from his ACL injury, especially with how a lot of his intrigue centers around his athleticism. However, Oliver used the 2018-19 season to show that he’s a great forward that can be a tremendous defender while also being a super efficient weapon on the offensive end. Those traits should allow a team to give him a shot on a two-way deal as he continues to recover from his ACL injury
Speedy Smith: Grand Rapids Drive
9.2 points, 7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals per game on 43% from field and 36% from 3
Now moving over to the backcourt, we transition into looking at G League veteran guard Kenneth “Speedy” Smith, who has been grinding in the league since turning pro in 2015
In the four seasons since then, he’s made strides when it comes to playing time and a lot of base stats. His consistent growth hit it’s plateau during the 2018-19 season where he had a career year with the Grand Rapids Drive. In 29 minutes per game, he put up 9.2 points, 7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals on 43% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. Those numbers allowed him to set G League career highs in points, steals, FG% and 3PT%. Among those improvements, three-point shooting is the biggest area where he progressed as it leaped ten points from 26% in 2017-18 to 36% in 2018-19.
While he’s progressed as a shooter, his knack as a passer has definitely been his best trait since playing for Louisiana Tech. That was very evident last year as he averaged seven assists per game with a fantastic 3.1 assist to turnover ratio. Among G Leaguers that played at least 15 games, those numbers place him 5th in Ast/TO ratio and 7th in assists per game.
While those numbers are definitely great, his work as a facilitator looks more impressive when you watch him play. Honestly, Smith exhibits a mastery with the overall approach to facilitating, whether that’s driving to the specific angle that he needs to make that perfect pass or using change of pace dribbles to capture the defense’s attention so that a teammate can that necessary off-ball cut. After doing those tasks to perfection, Smith is able to make the kind of picture-perfect passes that a lot of NBA guards aren’t able to make.
Smith’s knack as a passer was unsurprisingly a huge help for the Drive as the team was four points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court (106.6 points per 100) compared to when he was on the sidelines (102.5 points per 100).
When you combine the consistent year-by-year progression with his amazing facilitating, it would make sense for a team with limited backcourt depth to sign Smith to a two-way. Honestly, would be in a similar vein to how the Atlanta Hawks picked up Josh Magette to that same type of contract two years ago. Like Smith, Magette used the G League to evolve as a player to the point where he stood as one of the league’s premier point guards due to his skills as a passer. Will Smith follow in Magette’s footsteps? We’ll see. But he at least deserves a look for his tremendous growth as a player over the course of his pro career.
Kaiser Gates - Windy City Bulls
12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 41% from field and 38% from beyond the arc on 7.3 attempts per game.
On an extremely fun Windy City Bulls squad that made their first playoff appearance in franchise history, rookie forward Kaiser Gates stood out as one of their more intriguing prospects. That status came as he was able to slowly establish himself as one of the league’s best stretch four’s over the course of the season.
From February 9th through the end of the season, he averaged 14.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1 steal on 46% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc on 8.1 attempts per game. A lot of those jumpers came via passes from Walter Lemon Jr, who quickly developed a drive-and-dish relationship with the rookie forward after arriving to Windy City on December 8th.
While perimeter shooting was definitely his best trait, the young forward used his rookie year to show potential as a facilitator and on-ball defender. He was able to accomplish that first skill by pretty selfless player by looking for any open teammates while getting pressured. That led to him being able to dish it off in transition or spotting cutters while working in the high post. Moving onto defense, Gates shows some real upside through the mix of a strong 6’8 frame, 6’11 wingspan and working his butt while guarding the perimeter. Although he definitely gets overeager when it comes to biting on pump fakes,
Despite potential flaws in his defense and current lack of offensive versatility, Gates is definitely still an intriguing G League prospect. Because alongside his stellar perimeter shooting, he’s a solid athlete with a nice frame and upside as a passer. For a player with those traits that won’t turn 23 until November 8th, it would definitely sense for a team to sign Gates to a two year two-way deal to see how he can continue to progress as a player.
Jared Brownridge - Delaware Blue Coats
15.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 42% from field and 40% from beyond the arc on 9.6 attempts per game
Following a solid four-year run at the University of Santa Cruz, Brownridge spent the majority of his rookie year in 2017-18 playing for Pallacanestro Generate Mantovana of the Legadue Gold league. After the closure of that season, Brownridge traveled back to the States where he made a brief pit stop in the G League to play with Delaware. That adjective actually might be overstating things as he only played two games with the team where he put up 8.5 points on 50% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc on a total of 10 perimeter attempts.
After dipping his pinkie toe in those G League waters as a rookie, Brownridge used the 2018-19 campaign to dive headfirst into that minor league grind by spending the entire year with the Delaware Blue Coats.That decision definitely paid off for the 6’3 guard as he immediately stood as a reliable offensive weapon for a fledgling squad. Part of that is seen from him putting up 16 points and 2.2 assists on 42% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc on a nice 6.9 attempts per game.
That tremendous perimeter percentage comes from him shining through either catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble. Brownridge has mastered the art of being able to quickly work around screens, get to his position, retrieve a pass and put a clean perimeter shot. On the other end, he can also use head fakes or step-backs to create the separation he needs to get a clean look at the rim.
While his perimeter play is an extremely crucial part of his game, Brownridge can use his quick first step to either aggressively attack on closeouts or drive past a forward that’s switched onto him. Despite being an undersized 6’3 guard, he’s a solid driver as he can finish at the rim with either his left or right hand. That ambidextrous nature allowed him to hit 57% on his shots from within the restricted area, solid for a smaller guard.
While he didn’t put up the biggest numbers with the Blue Coats, Brownridge used the 2018-19 season to showcase himself as a prospect that can be a tremendous fit for the 2nd unit on a lot of NBA teams. That thought comes from how amazing the 24-year-old guard already is as an off-ball player that can work around screens, get into his position and nail catch-and-shoot 3’s. And if an opponent is able to quickly get into his face after he receives the pass, Brownridge can effectively drive to the rim with either hand.
With all that in mind, it would be smart for a team to sign Brownridge to a two-way contract as he honestly has the traits to be a solid offensive weapon in an NBA squad’s 2nd unit right now. However, they can also decide to take the development route for him as Brownridge won’t turn 25 until this November.