Jameel Warney - Texas Legends and Westchester Knicks
17.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks on 48% from field
In Frisco, Texas, the first few weeks of the 2018-19 G League season felt a little odd for one reason. That dealt with the surprisingly inconsistent play of 6’7 forward Jameel Warney, who’d previously stood as one of the G League’s finest players since he graduated from Stony Brook in 2016. His unstable play is seen from him averaging 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals on 43% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game during his 21 games with the Legends.
Those shooting percentages pushed the G League veteran to maintain a 50% True Shooting Percentage, a 6% drop from the previous season. After spending two years and a half years with Texas, the team decided to trade Warney to the Westchester Knicks in exchange for Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
After an awful Knicks debut against the RGV Vipers, Warney’s fate immediately turned as he went on a four game stretch where he put up 20+ points while shooting 56% or better from the field. While he wasn’t able to maintain that consistent level of excellence, Warney still established himself as one of the leaders of a Knicks squad that made their 2nd straight playoff appearance. In 25 games with the team, he put up 20.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1 steal and 1.1 blocks on 52% from the field and a career-high 31% from beyond the arc on 2.9 attempts per game.
Warney’s impact was felt more from those solid base stats as the team was 13 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court (109.6 points per 100) compared to when he was either on the sidelines or with the Legends (96.3 points per 100). That tremendous impact largely came from his solid arsenal as he’s a fantastic low-post threat with a soft touch, great passer, roll man, offensive rebounder, able to drive to the rim with his left hand and has an improving perimeter shot.
While Warney has been overlooked during most of his pro career due to being a 6’8 forward that does a lot of his work inside the paint, you also need to recognize the improvement he’s made over the course of his pro career. In addition to his great work as a low-post threat, the forward has used his time in the G League to improve in the following ways: perimeter shooting, facilitating and being more consistent at the free throw line. With those progressions, Warney has the tools to be a solid 2nd unit power forward/small ball big that can help out in several ways. Those tools should at least allow Warney to get signed to a two-way deal.
Daniel Ochefu - Stockton Kings
14.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1 steal on 60% from field in 24 minutes per game
Sticking with bigs that have improved in the G League, Daniel Ochefu had a career year in 2018-19 with the Stockton Kings. In 24 minutes per game, he put up 14.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1 steal and 1.1 block on 60% from the field. Those numbers allowed him to put up a career-high in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game when you factor in his rookie year and four-year run with Villanova.
His improved numbers on the offensive end has a lot to do with how he was able to be a tremendous roll man that had great chemistry with facilitators like Marcus Williams, Cody Demps and Kalin Lucas.His work as a roll man is helped by him being extremely quick for a 240 pound as he does a great job of exploding to the rim and being able to finish with ferocious dunks or smooth layups.
The big can also do damage if he has the ball on the pinch post as he’s shown an ability to make left-handed drive to the rim or remain in that area and throw bounce passes to guards or wings that are cutting. Last but not least, he was a fantastic offensive rebounder as he snagged 2.7 offensive boards per game, which was a product of him having quick feet and being able to recognize where the ball is going to end up after it bounces off the rim.
After spending his rookie year with the Wizards and the last two years in the G League, it may seem like Ochefu is a proven commodity as a player, However, the progressions that he made during the 2018-19 campaign shows that the 25-year-old big is still focused on refining his game to return to the NBA.
That idea allows you to remain optimistic that he can still evolve his games in other ways, like adding a consistent mid-range shooting stroke to Ochefu’s already solid status as a pinch post facilitator. Despite the areas that he’ll still have to improve in, the Kings big still stands as a player that would be a good two-way option for teams that are looking for front-court help.
Levi Randolph - Canton Charge
14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2 assist, 1.2 steals on 47% from field and 45% from 3 on 4.3 attempts per game
After spending the last two years playing in Italy and France, Randolph returned to the G League in the 2018-19 season to play with the Canton Charge. Despite the team itself struggling during that season, as they finished with a 22-28 record, the 6’5 wing stood out as one of the Charge’s lone bright spots.
That label is due to his efficiency as he put up 14.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.2 steals on 48% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc on 4.3 attempts per game. Randolph stood as the 6th most efficient shooter in the G League, when you factor in prospects that played at least 10 games and averaged at least 2 shots per game.
That tremendous perimeter shooting came as a surprise due to the wing only shooting better than 40% from beyond the arc once since starting his college career in Alabama in 2011-12. Randolph’s great percentage comes from him being able to hit jumpers whether he’s working through catch-and-shoot or working off-the-dribble.
In regards to that first trait, he’s able to hit perimeter shots whether working around screens or just standing in one spot and waiting for his shot. When it comes to off-the-dribble, Randolph likes to either utilize off-ball screen and get to his spot or nail step-backs.
Aside from perimeter shooting, the 6’5 guard is able to contribute offensively through making off-ball cuts, driving to the rim with either hand or working on the right block. As both a cutter and driver, he’s effective as he’s able to use his athleticism to be able to finish around the rim in traffic. That knack allowed him to be very efficient from around the rim as he shot 65% from within the restricted area.
In a similar vein to Ochefu, Randolph is a veteran that really improved himself last year in the G League. After only shooting better than 40% once during his entire career, he stood out as one of the more efficient perimeter threats in the G League. In addition to that, the 6’5 guard has also established himself as an athletic slasher that can be able to efficiently finish at the rim with either hand. While the 26-year-old wing may not be the sexiest player that can be had with a two-way deal, Levi Randolph’s tremendous offensive talents would allow him to be a great fit within an NBA team’s 2nd unit right now.
Jordan Sibert - Erie BayHawks
16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1 steal on 43% from field and 38% from beyond the arc on 8.9 attempts per game
Sticking with 26-year-olds that really progressed last year in the G League, Sibert returned to the G League and the Erie BayHawks after spending the past two years playing overseas ball in Italy and Germany. That time playing against European competition seemed to pay off as the 6’5 guard played the best basketball of his entire career.
In 32 minutes per game, he put up 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals on 43% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 8.9 attempts. Those shooting averages allowed him to maintain a very solid 58% True Shooting Percentage, a 7% improvement from the 2015-16 season.
Sibert’s improved efficiency is impressive when you realize the huge volume of his shot attempts and how he wasn’t afraid to launch the ball up whether working off the catch or through utilizing his handles. Through catch-and-shoot, he’s able to do it whether he’s working around off-ball screens or simply waiting for a pass while standing on the perimeter. While he’s definitely more comfortable with that first trait, the 6’5 guard has shown an ability to utilize off-ball screens to get an opening or just shake the opponent off with a slick step-back move.
Although nearly 60% of his made shots came from beyond the arc, Sibert is more than capable of scoring around the rim, whether that’s through making off-ball cuts or drives to the rim. In either area, he’s able to effectively finish at the rim whether he has an open lane or going into traffic. In either method, he’s a reliable finisher as the 6’5 guard hit 59% on his attempts from within the restricted area.
The goodness continues for the Bayhawks guard on the other end of the court as he stands as a solid defender. A lot of his appeal stands from his work as a ball hawk as he averaged 1.5 steals per game in 2018-19. Those numbers came from him being able to both get into the passing lanes and also putting solid pressure on the player that he’s protecting.
His solid work on the defensive end had a huge positive impact on the BayHawks as opposing teams were almost six points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the court (102.9 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the sidelines (108.3 points per 100). To put that in perspective, those six points would mark the difference between having the third best defense in the G League and the 17th worst.
Similar to both Ochefu and Randolph, Sibert might be overlooked due to already spending a few years as a professional athlete in the G League and Europe. However, the 6’5 guard definitely has the skill set that NBA teams look for in a modern-day wing by being a fantastic shooter as both an on and off-ball threat. The same thing can be said about his ability to get to the rim as he can establish that through both cutting and making on-ball drives to the rim. All of those traits combined with his great work on the defensive end allows Sibert to be a very viable option to receive a two-way deal.
Matt Jones - Stockton Kings
12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals on 42% from field and 34% from beyond the arc on 4.9 attempts per game
As might be expected, the process of making this list and breaking down the solid crop of G League talent to just twenty players was a huge challenge. While that was actually made less difficult due to Kendrick Nunn, BJ Johnson, Billy Garrett and Tarik Phillip being ineligible due to their status as late season call-ups, it was still tough to narrow it down to twenty prospects. That challenge heightened during this final part as it was hard to pick just five players when there were eight or ten that would have merit being on this list.
However, after scrolling through the G League’s YouTube account, digging through individual player and team pages on the league’s stats site, 2nd year guard Matt Jones squeaked out ahead of some of the major omissions. Last year with the Stockton Kings, he shined as a solid offensive threat by putting up 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals on 42% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 4.9 attempts per game.
His production during that season represented the Duke alum taking a step forward in every area of his game from base stats (points, assists and rebounds) to efficiency (field goal, 3-point and free throw percentage). That improved three-point percentage actually looks better when you just scrap the month of November. From December 1st until the end of the year, Jones shot a better 38% from three on 5 attempts per game.
That progression as a perimeter shooter allowed Jones to become closer to establishing himself as a well-rounded offensive player. Because alongside his improved perimeter jumper, the Duke alum is a very solid on-ball driver, as he’s able to use head fakes and a quick first step to get around the opposition. In addition to making those drives, he’s smart at recognizing the key opportunity to start to explode to the paint for off-ball cuts. Those two approaches definitely worked as he shot 61% from within the restricted area during the 2018-19 season.
As an improved perimeter shooter, Jones stood as one of the offensive leaders for a Stockton Kings squad that finished the regular season at 30-20 and made their second straight playoff appearance. While him turning 25 in December might point to him being a complete product, the 2018-19 season proved that the 6’5 player might still be progressing as a player. Will those progressions continue during the upcoming season? It’s impossible to predict. However, Jones has proven himself to be a versatile offensive weapon that can shine as a reliable perimeter shooter while being able to efficiently score from within the restricted area. Those qualities allow to be a solid option to get a two-way deal.