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Why Tremont Waters Is One Of The Most Entertaining Players In The G League

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In his latest piece, Dakota Schmidt breaks down Tremont Waters’ game and explains why he’s one of the most entertaining players in the G League.

Grand Rapids Drive v Maine Red Claws Photo by Rich Obrey/NBAE via Getty Images

Back on Monday, the NBA G League named Tremont Waters as their Performer of the Week for the week ending on January 12th. That accomplishment makes the Celtics two-way player the first G Leaguer since Trey Burke in 2017-18 to receive that crown twice in the same season. In the two games during that week, the rookie guard put up 23.5 points, 1.5 assists, 3 steals, and 1.5 rebounds on 40% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 10.5 attempts per game. That span was headlined by a 30 point, 7 assist, and 5 steal performance in a January 9th game against the Capital City Go-Go.

The level of play that was evident during that week has been commonplace for the former LSU standout. In 18 games with the Maine Red Claws, the 5’11 guard has averaged 21.1 points, 7.9 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.4 steals on 44% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 8.2 attempts per game. That level of efficiency as a scorer has led to him maintaining a career-best 60% True Shooting Percentage.

Tremont’s efficiency has played a big role behind the Red Claws currently maintaining the third-best offense in the G League, as they’re averaging 112.1 points per 100 possessions. The rookie guard’s impact is shown by how the team is eight points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court (114.2 points per 100) compared to when he’s either sitting on the bench or with the Boston Celtics (105.7 points per 100). Putting that in perspective, those eight points mark the difference between a team having the best offense and being 16th in the G League.

With the Red Claws only attempting 6.7 mid-range shots per game, Tremont Waters’ offensive game has been reliant on perimeter jumpers, on-ball drives, and facilitating. Among those skills, the rookie has shown the highest upside as a facilitator. Currently, he’s averaging 7.9 assists per game with a 2.3 Ast/TO ratio. Both of those numbers eclipse what he did during his two-year college career with LSU, where he averaged 5.9 assists with a 1.9 Ast/TO ratio.

Tremont’s statistical progression might be partially due to the improved weapons that he’s had a chance to work with as a member of the Red Claws. Just in the pick-and-roll alone, the young guard gets a chance to work with 3-point marksman Kaiser Gates, standout 2nd year forward Yante Maten, and 7’6 behemoth Tacko Fall.

In addition to getting a chance to work alongside solid front-court players, that diverse trio helps the guard due to defense staying on their toes and figuring how to defend the roll or pop man in milliseconds. Once those players get some semblance of openness, our subject does a great job of finding them. That’s seen through how he can throw precise pocket passes to a roll man or entry feeds to a big standing in the paint.

An example of that pick-and-roll passing is seen in the play below, where he’s working alongside Yante Maten. At the same time that the 6’7 forward sets a flare screen and starts to roll the paint, Waters uses a crossover to get around the Grand Rapids defender and moves towards the left elbow. That movement stops on a dime as Waters throws a precise pocket pass that hits Maten in stride. After receiving that pass, the forward drives to the rim and finishes with a thunderous right-handed slam on a poor Grand Rapids defender.

Sticking with his work as a facilitator, Waters is tremendous at being able to throw precise passes while he’s moving towards the rim. The 21-year-old is probably at his best in this situation by using creative ways to move the ball to his open teammates. In the three games that were watched to make this piece, Waters utilized behind-the-back passes and overhead feeds that looked like he was throwing up a hook shot.

However, the play below is the best example of a creative way that the guard can dish it off to his teammates. After maneuvering around a screen set by Kaiser Gates, our subject starts a one-on-one battle with Australian wing Matt Kenyon. Following a few seconds of the Red Claws guard being unable to drive past the Go-Go player, he posts up on the right block. That low-post work is cut short as Waters throws a gorgeous two-handed pass over his head that lands perfectly in the hands of Shelton Jeter, who nails the corner three.

Breaking away from his status as one of the best facilitators in the G League, Waters has also had success as a perimeter shooter and on-ball driver. As a three-point threat, the 5’11 guard has been great as he’s shooting a career-best 39% from beyond the arc on 8.2 attempts per game.

That efficiency looks remarkable when you realize that a lot of those attempts are difficult step-back shots. Although some shooters may struggle, the 5’11 guard seems at ease with how fluid the whole process looks. When you think about it, his utilizing of step-back shots makes a lot of sense as the 5’11 guard can’t just put up a shot with a defender in his face as that attempt could just get deflected.

Speaking of unique ways that Waters has been able to score despite his smaller frame, let’s move onto his work as an on-ball driver. At first glance, it would seem like this would be an area that the 5’11 guard will struggle. However, that hasn’t been the case as he’s currently shooting 56% from within the restricted area on 96 total attempts. Although that percentage can get better, it’s solid for a guy his size.

Most of his success as an on-ball driver comes from what he does before reaching the paint. When he’s standing on his perimeter and ready to attack, Waters is lethal by utilizing slick handles, quick acceleration, and an ability to change speeds and direction on a dime to get past that perimeter defender. Although the journey becomes difficult after that initial victory, it would be wrong not to recognize the fantastic tools in his arsenal.

From an offensive perspective, there might not be a more entertaining player that’s currently in the G League than Tremont Waters. That praise starts with his passing as the guard has a large variety of ways to deliver the ball to his teammates. As both a shooter and on-ball driver, he’s able to utilize slick handles and step-back moves to create the separation that a 5’11 guard needs to get his shot attempt off.

Of course, those skills have led to a lot of success as he’s a 2x G League Performer of the Year and the leading scorer on one of the best G League teams. Will that great, exciting play lead to getting more playing time with the Boston Celtics? We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, I’d advise you, the reader, to go out of your watch the Maine Red Claws as Tremont Waters is worth the price of admission or spending two hours on ESPN+.