Despite how long it has felt, we’re only three weeks removed from the horrifying threat of the coronavirus putting a premature end to the 2019-20 G League season. While the conclusion to a season is usually followed by end-of-the-season awards, let’s temporarily circumvent that trend by looking ahead to a time where G League basketball will hopefully make it’s return in the fall. With this piece, we’re going to take a look at five players that excellent careers with mid-major teams that fans could be watching in the NBA’s minor league in the 2020-21 campaign.
Nathan Knight, 6-10, 245 pound PF, William & Mary
Over the course of his four-year run with William & Mary, Nathan Knight put together an amazing resume that would be hard for a player in any conference to match. Headlined by being named the Colonial Athletic Association’s (CAA) player of the year during the 2019-20 season, the 6’10 forward’s collegiate accolades include: 2019 & 2020 All-CAA 1st Team, 2018 All-CAA 2nd Team, 2018, 2019, 2020 CAA All-Defensive Team, and the 2020 CAA Defensive Player of the Year. Those numerous awards make sense when you look at his numbers as he averaged 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game on 56% from the field.
Despite those numerous accolades and great numbers, Knight may actually be a better fit in the G League than college. That claim is due to him being a skilled and mobile front-court player that can push the ball up the court, make on-ball drives to the rim, facilitate, and show promise as a perimeter threat. While that last claim may seem far-fetched based on his 28% three-point percentage with William & Mary, a pretty shooting stroke and shooting 77% as a senior makes you believe that he has upside as a shooter.
That upside as a do-it-all offensive big makes it reasonable to expect an NBA team to sign him to a two-way deal following the NBA Draft and then spend his rookie year in the G League growing on the defensive end.
Ivan Gandia-Rosa, 6-1, 193 pound point guard, North Florida
When you look at base statistics, former North Florida guard Ivan Gandia-Rosa doesn’t seem to be too impressive. During his senior year, the 6’1 guard averaged 13.8 points, 6.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals on 44% from the field and 38% from 3 on 6.1 attempts per game. Things become more notable when you move your eyes over to advanced numbers as he maintained a career-high 60% True Shooting Percentage and 2.7 Ast/TO ratio. That efficiency was a big reason behind him finishing First Team All-Conference in the Atlantic 10 during this past season.
Although he isn’t the tallest or most explosive player in the world, Gandia-Rosa was able to shine as an offensive weapon for North Florida through the use of solid change-of-pace dribble moves and being able to finish in traffic with his left hand. Aside from on-ball driving, Gandia-Rosa has been a solid perimeter weapon that can nail threes whether he’s receiving hand-offs, maneuvering around screens in catch-and-shoots, and working off-the-dribble.
Those skills combined with solid facilitating should allow him to be a solid point guard in the G League after signing an exhibit 10 contract.
Osasumwen Osaghae, 6-9, 250 pound PF/C, Florida International
While both Knight and Gandia-Rosa are talented players with solid pro upside, they don’t pop off the screen like former Florida International big Osasumwen Osaghae. Standing at an imposing 6’9, 250 pounds, he was able to stand as one of the best defenders in mid-major hoops due to long arms and quick feet that allowed him to go out to the perimeter and defending driving guards or wings. Those quick feet have also allowed him to be a solid help defender and work as a roll man on the offensive end of the court.
Those tools combined with his athleticism has also allowed him to shine as a help defender and roll man on the offensive end. Regarding that second area, his ability to slash to the rim and go for alley-oops allowed Florida International to have the highest scoring pick-and-roll offense in college basketball during the 2019-20 season.
Osaghae’s knack as a rim protector, offensive rebounder (snagged 3.1 offensive boards per game as a senior), and roll man could definitely allow him to be one of the best rookie bigs in the G League if he takes that path.
Desure Buie, 5-11, 160 pound point guard, Hofstra
After being lost in the shuffle over the last few years due to the presence of current Jazz two-way guard Justin Wright-Foreman, Desure Buie used the 2019-20 season to establish himself as a real offensive weapon. That mission was definitely accomplished as he averaged 18.2 points, 5.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 2 steals on 45% from the field and 42% from 3 on 5.3 attempts per game. Those numbers allowed him to join Nathan Knight on the All-CAA First Team.
As those numbers might tell you, Buie was a really dynamic offensive weapon by being able to shine by being a guard that can use his quickness and handles to create open looks on the perimeter and paint or work as an off-ball threat and shine as a catch-and-shoot weapon. Those skills mixed with him having a clear determination are the ingredients behind him being one of the best guards in mid-major hoops despite standing at 5’11.
While his smaller frame might deter some, Buie has definitely proven himself to be talented enough to receive a two-way whenever the NBA off-season actually begins.