With most of the United States locked on their homes on quarantine as we continue to struggle against the massive threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has found unique ways to entertain their fans. From airing classic games on various social media platforms, having legendary broadcaster Ernie Johnson interview notable basketball luminaries, to starting a 2k tournament featuring various NBA All-Stars, the Association has done a nice job being creative with content when there’s no actual games being played.
On Thursday morning, the NBA announced that they’d be holding an eight-person HORSE tournament that will be airing on ESPN on April 16th on 9:00 PM EST. This event will feature former NBA players Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups, Hawks guard Trae Young, Thunder guard Chris Paul, Jazz man Mike Conley, Bulls guard Zach LaVine, 2020 Hall-of-Fame inductee Tamika Catchings, and Sky guard Allie Quigley. Due to the social distancing rules, each player will put up shots at their
While we’ll have to wait a few days to watch the actual event, we obviously have all the time in the world to ponder how a HORSE event would look with players from different leagues. For example, which guys from the 2019-20 G League season would make for the most interesting hypothetical competition? Well, let’s use this piece to give you the best possible group of players.
As the game of HORSE deals with at least two participants trying to one up each other when it comes to making challenging shots, it makes sense to target the guys that were the best shooters during this past G League season. In addition to finding great shooters, this contest should also have players that are known for making tough shots, whether that’s through contested looks or threes that are well beyond the arc.
With those qualifications in mind, here’s my selection of seven G Leaguers from the 2019-20 season and one legend that should participate in a hypothetical HORSE competition.
Dusty Hannahs - Memphis Hustle
One of the leading candidates for G League MVP, Dusty Hannahs was able to use the 2019-20 season to showcase himself as arguably the best scoring threat in the league while being the leader of an elite Memphis Hustle team. For the third straight year, Hannahs stood as a phenomenal three-point shooter as he hit 45% on 7 perimeter attempts per game. A lot of those made shots came with him working off-the-dribble and squaring up from way behind the three-point line. That unlimited range combined with the possibility of him utilizing a pretty floater allows Hannahs to be a great option for a game of G League HORSE.
Isaiah Canaan - Stockton Kings
From the moment that he put on a Stockton Kings uniform, the NBA veteran was immediately able to stand as one of the more electrifying players in the league. With step-backs and pretty pull-ups in his arsenal, the 6-footer shot 42% from beyond the arc on 8.8 attempts per game. Most of those attempts came from well behind the three-point line as the young veteran hit 42% on 7.1 attempts per game with shots that were between 25 to 29 feet away from the basket. All of those traits put together would make Isaiah a tough player for other guys to beat in HORSE.
Bryce Brown - Maine Red Claws
While Celtics two-way players Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall controlled a lot of the attention within Portland, Maine during this past season, a former Auburn standout was able to put together a great rookie year. In 34 games with the team, the 6’3 guard averaged 16.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on 44% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc on 8.6 attempts per game. As those numbers can tell you, Brown was phenomenal from beyond the arc being able to nail catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble jumpers. In a game of HORSE, that work as an off-the-dribble threat will obviously be the skill that comes most in handy.
Jaylen Adams - Wisconsin Herd
Alongside the aforementioned Dusty Hannahs, Adams stands as a legitimate G League MVP candidate for his play with the phenomenal Wisconsin Herd that finished the year with a 33-10 record. A lot of that success was due to the 2nd year guard that put up 21.5 points, 5.4 assists, 5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals on 49% from the field and 40% from 3 on 6.6 attempts per game. A lot of those made threes came from well beyond the three-point line with Adams using his dribble moves to create the separation needed to nail those long bombs. A statistical example of that is shown by 45% on 5.2 attempts per game on shots that were between 25 to 29 feet away from the hoop.
Pierre Jackson - South Bay Lakers
As one of the more electrifying scorers to ever step on a D/G League floor, it shouldn’t be a surprise for Pierre to be one of the ideal players to participate in a game of HORSE. Dating back to his time with the Idaho Stampede, the veteran guard has entertained crowds through his tremendous energy and ability to both take and make extremely tough shots from both inside and outside the three-point line.
While this has been the case throughout his career, it was especially evident during his time with South Bay where he averaged 20.7 points, 5.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 steals on 44% from the field and 40% from 3 on 8.6 attempts per game. The majority of his made attempts came super deep as he shot 43% on 6.8 attempts per game from shots between 25 and 29 feet from the hoop.
Justin Dentmon - Texas Legends/Austin Toros
In the NBA’s HORSE competition, they’re going to be featuring legends Chauncey BIllups, Tamika Catchings, and Paul Pierce to pair with current NBA and WNBA greats. While this player isn’t retired as he played in France during the 2019-20 season, he’s at a stage of his career and has the experience in the league to be considered as a legend. . That label isn’t because of the team that he spent the majority of his G League career playing for as he was an electrifying offensive weapon since making his debut in the 2010-11 season.
In a combined 176 G League games, the 6-foot guard was outstanding by averaging 21.7 points, 4.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals on 45% from the field and 40% from 3 on 8.4 attempts per game. Paired with those phenomenal numbers, the Washington alum collected numerous accolades during his career which include: 2012 D-League MVP, 2012 All D-League 1st Team, 2011 and 2013 All D-League Honorable Mention, and participant in the 2013 D-League Showcase Three-Point Shootout.
Combined with his explosiveness and ability to make tough shots around the rim, Dentmon’s success as a perimeter threat in the time both before, during, and after the three-point revolution of the 2010’s. That skill could allow him to be competitive with the likes of Dusty Hannahs, Bryce Brown, and Jaylen Adams.
Henry Ellenson - Raptors 905
After a group filled with backcourt threats, we now transition to the lone front-court player on this list. During the 2019-20 season, the 6-11, 240 pound forward really started to shine once he made the trek out to Mississaugua to play with the Raptors 905. With that team, he was the epitome of efficiency as he averaged 21.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.1 blocks on 54% from the field and 43% from 3 on 6.3 attempts per game in 17 games.
As a shooter, he was able to shine in both catch-and-shoot and being able to create his own shot. The former NBA lottery pick is able to combine that skill with being able to work off the dribble and drive to the rim. Those traits mixed together could allow him to be an all-around scoring threat and a solid option for a HORSE competition.
Gabe Vincent - Sioux Falls Skyforce
Before he got signed by the Miami Heat on a two-way deal, Gabe Vincent arguably stood as the most explosive scorer in the G League. From November 15th, 2019 through December 21st, Vincent scored 30+ points in six of the thirteen games. During that same stretch, he also shot 42% from beyond the arc on 11.2 attempts per game. That incredible stretch ultimately led to him signing the first major contract of his pro career with Miami on January 8th.
Although his numbers lessened a bit after joining the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Vincent was still able to stand as one of the G League’s deep threats when the season prematurely ended. On shots from 25 to 29 feet away from the rim, Vincent’s percentage stood at 41% on 7.4 attempts per game. That efficiency despite a lot of his shots coming through pull-ups or step-back attempts. Those types of skills could allow him to be very successful in a HORSE competition.