Years ago, players who weren’t able to make an NBA roster, or perhaps hadn’t yet received a real opportunity in the league, often went over to Europe to hone their craft.
Sometimes they came back to the NBA after working on their game. Other times, they stayed overseas and ended up having solid careers. But what certainly did not happen was players staying stateside in favor of the G League.
Things have changed over the course of the last couple of years and with nearly every NBA team having a direct affiliate in the G League, some players are choosing to remain in the states.
A lot of players are increasingly seeing the G League as a legit pathway back to the NBA. One of those players is Davon Reed of the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Reed was originally drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. He spent the 2017-18 season with the Suns and the 2018-19 season with the Indiana Pacers. After participating in training camp with the Miami Heat this season, he joined their G League affiliate in Sioux Falls.
Having had some experience in the G League, he feels that it’s a good place for players hoping for the NBA opportunity.
“Absolutely, it’s an opportunity for people trying to get there for the first time and people that are trying to stay, and people trying to get back,” Reed told Ridiculous Upside. “It’s a great opportunity if it’s used in the right way.”
During his rookie season, Reed looked like he could be a decent contributor for the Suns. He missed the first few months of the 2017-18 season due to a meniscus injury and spent his time rehabbing with Phoenix’s affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns.
When he finally made his NBA debut in March of 2018, he looked like a potential 3&D type player with strong defensive instincts and a developing outside shot. He participated in summer league with the Suns, and after averaging 13.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists, Phoenix decided to guarantee his contract for the 2018-19 season.
However, the team opted to go in another direction right before the season began when they signed Jamal Crawford at the expense of Reed. That was his introduction to the cruel world of the business side of the NBA.
“In Phoenix, I learned that it’s a business,” Reed said. “No matter what happens, you’ve got to continue to plug away and continue to just prove yourself. That’s what I’ve been trying to do the last few seasons and what I’m going to continue to do.”
After parting ways with the Suns, Reed wasn’t a free agent for long. He was scooped up by the Pacers and signed to a two-way contract. As a condition of the two-way deal, Reed was only able to spend a maximum of 45 days with the Pacers, while spending the rest of his time with their G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
He had a solid season with the Mad Ants to the tune of 13.0 points per game, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He only played in 10 games for the Pacers that year, but he did show improved shooting with 41.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three point-line.
Having seen the level of play in the G League each year of his professional basketball career, he’s been impressed with the competition he’s seen on a game to game basis.
“It’s great competition in the G League,” Reed said. “A lot of players have the potential to play in the NBA. It’s not the big of a difference, a lot of players just need a chance and an opportunity.”
This season, he’s started in all 24 games for the Skyforce. He’s putting up 12.4 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. He’s shown his prowess on the defensive end of the floor when matched up against wings on the perimeter.
He’s confident that what he brings to the table is enough to help an NBA team.
“I feel like I play the game the right way,” Reed said. “I can bring it on the defensive end, I can space the floor and shoot the ball. I can just make the right plays and the right time, I’m always going to play hard.”
This season is a little bit different for Reed. It’s the first time in his career that he’s not playing in the G League as an assignment from an NBA team. He wishes that things might have gone differently in Indiana last season, but he’s ready for this new challenge.
“It was an interesting experience. I would’ve liked to have gotten more opportunity at the top level, but I was grateful for the opportunity either way,” Reed said. “It was an experience and this year is a new experience as well.”