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Angel Delgado Shines in G League Rookie Season

The former Seton Hall big man left his mark on the league en route to winning the Rookie of the Year Award.

Agua Caliente Clippers v South Bay Lakers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Angel Delgado was one of the best players in college basketball during his time at Seton Hall. In his senior year with the Pirates, he won the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for the top center in college basketball.

He led the Pirates to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they gave Kansas all they could handle.Despite that, Delgado went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft. He participated in the Portsmouth Invitational for top college seniors, but when draft night rolled around, he didn’t hear his name called.

He ended up signing a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, meaning he’d be allowed a maximum of 45 days in the NBA while spending the majority of his time with the Agua Caliente Clippers.

Delgado had quite the season with Agua Caliente. He won the G League Rookie of the Year Award while setting some league records. The 31 rebounds that he pulled down on Jan. 5 broke the previous league record of 29 by Jack Cooley in 2015.

He was also named to both the All G League First Team and the Rookie First Team.

He credited winning the award and being able to produce at a high level right away due to being able to split time in the G League and with the Clippers in the NBA. While it was a challenge at times being shuffled back and forth between Agua Caliente and the Clippers, it helped keep him on his toes as a rookie.

”It was great, it really helped me out to develop my game and showing me the values that’s out there. I just do my work and it did a great job with developing my game, and it got me that award,” Delgado told Ridiculous Upside. “It was cool, but it was challenging. It was a challenge, but you just got to keep your mind focused and keep being ready for everything.”

This past season, Delgado put up 18.5 points while shooting 61.5 percent from the field, 14.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 blocked shots. At Seton Hall, he was a very good passer for a big man, and that ability was clearly on display with Agua Caliente.

Although he dominated the G League, opportunity in the NBA was hard to come by. A deep Clippers rotation and playoff aspirations saw little room for minutes for the rookie center. He only appeared in two NBA games all season.

That meant more time in the G League, and more time to really experience the league and the budding talent pool that has cropped up in recent years.

”I saw a bunch of guys trying to get their dream. That’s something that this league can do,” Delgado said. “More and more the vets, they are helping you every day, how to tune up your game and be able to be at this level. I’m trying to learn everything from them. I feel like you just got to keep working on your game.”

The talent pool in the G League is something that’s been improving for quite some time now. With each NBA team getting closer to having their own G League affiliate, more and more players are getting NBA level training and workouts.

It’s a far cry from when the league first began as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL). Nowadays, there’s not too much difference between many of the top guys in the G League and end of the bench NBA players.

That’s something that Delgado was able to notice right away. He saw a lot of players around the G League getting NBA opportunities as the season progressed.

“Sometimes the G League helps a lot. Believe it or not, some people don’t take it that serious,” Delgado said. “It really helps you a lot because you see a lot of 10-days, and lot of two-ways, getting the opportunity to go and do a really good job out here. That means the G League is helping a lot.”

While Delgado’s scoring certainly helped with him being the top rookie in the G League, his contributions in other aspects of the game were just as important. He was named to the G League All-Defense team, and his rebounding was elite.

The 648 rebounds he grabbed during the season were the second-most in G League history for a single season. Rebounding is a major skill that certainly seems like it could translate to the NBA level.

It’s something that Delgado has always prided himself on. He makes sure that his presence is felt on the glass.

”I always have it in my mind that I’m the best rebounder wherever I go,” Delgado said. “That’s what I want to prove to everyone, and to keep showing that I can do it at that end in the G League and at this [NBA] level too.”

At the end of this season, the Clippers declined to make Delgado a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent as the offseason began. He just recently signed a deal in China with the Bejing Royal Fighters.

With the CBA season ending before the NBA season does, it’s possible that a strong showing could land him a few more NBA looks.

Regardless, Delgado learned a lot during his rookie season. Although he didn’t get much of an opportunity to show he could play at the NBA level, the Clippers veterans helped contribute to a great learning environment for him.

”I’ll just keep learning the game and just keep listening to the vets,” Delgado said. “I’m trying to get better every day and just keep doing what I’m doing and try to do my job every day.”