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Let’s Appreciate Some G Leaguers

Dakota Schmidt talks about five solid G Leaguers that y’all should appreciate

Oklahoma City Blue v Stockton Kings Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite what the boredom and necessary isolation might tell you, it’s only been three days since the basketball world came to a stop on Wednesday night when both the NBA and G League suspended operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. While these last 72 hours might’ve felt like hell, the feeling will persist as we’re at least another month away for professional basketball to return to our television screens.

Although there won’t be any live basketball for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t mean we should stop talking about the game. In fact, discussing basketball and the players that have entertained us is a pretty good way to deal with the quarantined world that we’re inhabiting. With that idea in mind, I thought it was a good idea to start a series where we show love to some G Leaguers that might’ve overlooked before the season was suspended.

Bubu Palo - Sioux Falls Skyforce

In a league where players can enter and leave their teams quicker than that Grandpa Simpson meme, it’s amazing that Bubu Palo has been a consistent member of the Sioux Falls Skyforce since the 2014-15 season. This extended run with the team isn’t the only thing that’s persistent as the 6’1 guard has stood as a reliable facilitator that can also hit three-pointers at a consistent rate. Those skills combined with an explosive first step has allowed the veteran guard to remain a crucial part of the team no matter who are the other 11 men on the roster.

Cody Demps - Stockton Kings

Sticking with players that have been in the G League for a while, Demps has been a solid backcourt threat no matter if he’s with the Reno Bighorns or Stockton Kings. This year with Stockton, he’s shined as a two-way threat with an ability to snag offensive rebounds, play solid on-ball defense, hit perimeter shots, and facilitate. Those skills have shined brightest during the 2019-20 campaign where he averaged 14.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 steals on 44% from the field and 37% from 3 on 3.8 attempts per game. His great numbers have allowed him to be a crucial part for a Kings team that stood at 24-19 before the season was suspended.

Simi Shittu - Windy City Bulls

After being a five-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American in the prior year, it was a bit surprising to see 6’10 center Simi Shittu go through last offseason not even getting a two-way deal from a team. Over the course of the first few weeks of the G League season season, hesitance from those teams made sense as the new Windy City Bulls center Simi Shittu struggled to even get on the court. During the month of November, he averaged 4.7 points and 2.4 rebound on 56% from the field in 9.6 minutes per game.

As the season went on, both his playing time and production improved. Those progressions are seen from how he was averaging 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 1.4 assists on 58% from the field in the 10 games before the season was suspended.

Craig Sword - Grand Rapids Drive

No matter if he’s in Erie or Grand Rapids, Craig Sword has been a tremendous role player that can give his team an instant boost. That comes from the tremendous energy he exhibits on the court as the 6’3 guard works his tail off on defense, fights for rebounds, pushes the pace, and knows when to make off-ball cuts. An amazing example of those traits were evident in one of the Drive’s recent win over the Maine Red Claws. In the final moments of that game, which included this play where he came out of nowhere to fly to snag an offensive rebound and then put the back in.

Vitto Brown - Erie BayHawks

When it comes to G Leaguers that aren’t on two-way deals or assignees, Vitto Brown might be one of the more intriguing. A lot of that deals with how versatile he is through being a 6’8, 235 pound forward that can handle himself in the paint and go out on the perimeter and stand out as a long-range threat. That second trait has been most intriguing as he shot 38% from 3 on 6 attempts per game during his 42 games with Erie before the season was suspended. Those traits has allowed him to be an asset to Erie’s offense as the team was six points better per 100 possessions when he was on the court (106.9 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the bench (100.3 points per 100).