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Ridiculous Upside’s 2019-20 G League Defensive Player of the Year Finalists

Ridiculous Upside announces their finalists for G League Defensive Player of the Year

Westchester Knicks v Lakeland Magic Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images

Sir’Dominic Pointer - Canton Charge

1.9 steals and 2 blocks per game

Opponent On/Off Per 100 Possessions: On: (104.9 points per 100), Off: (108.2 points per 100)

After two consecutive seasons of finishing 22-28, the Canton Charge took a 180 degree turn during the 2019-20 campaign. Finishing the year with a 29-14 record, the team stood as one of the league’s best squads through being solid on both ends of the ball. That was especially the case in the team’s last 15 games where they finished in the top-10 in both offensive and defensive rating, which pushed them to go 11-4 during that stretch.

In regards to the defensive end of the court, the leader of that unit was veteran 6’5 wing Sir’Dominic Pointer. Dating back to his time with St .John’s, Pointer has stood as a tremendous defensive-minded player that always stands as a threat to create turnovers, whether that’s through getting into the passing lanes or chasedown blocks. Those skills allowed him to be the only player on a G League contract to average more than 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

Those numbers in addition to his clear impact on the defensive end allows Sir’Dominic to be an undeniable finalist for this award.

Kenny Wooten - Westchester Knicks

3.6 blocks in 25 minutes per game

Opponent On/Off Per 100 Possessions: On: (103.1 points per 100), Off: (108.1 points per 100)

Due to not getting an opportunity to watch a lot of Oregon games, I didn’t know a lot about Kenny Wooten when he made his debut with the Westchester Knicks back in November. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to captures the attention as the 6’8 forward is the prototypical type of player that can capture your attention in a blink of an eye. That ability is due how he’s an energetic front-court player that can use a mix of awareness and incredible athletic gifts to protect the rim better than most basketball players.

After starting the year on a standard G League contract, Wooten’s ability to protect the rim combined with dominating on the glass (3.1 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes) pushed the New York Knicks to sign him to a two-way deal on January 14th. While he didn’t play a second with the big league club, Wooten’s ability to establish himself as an elite rim protector during his time with Westchester puts him in a great position as he prepares for his sophomore season as a pro.

Tra-Deon Hollins - Grand Rapids Drive

2.7 steals per game

Opponent On/Off Per 100 Possessions: On: (101.2 points per 100), Off: (106 points per 100)

In a similar way to Sir’Dominic Pointer, 3rd year guard Tra’Deon Hollins has been praised for his play on defense since his time in college. With the University of Nebraska-Omaha, he was named Summit League Defensive Player of the Year in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. That success at the mid-major level led to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants selecting him with the 21st overall pick in the 2017 G League Draft.

Although offensive struggles have pushed him to be a reserve during his three years in the G League, his status as an elite defender has persisted. Although he’s played more than 27 minutes per game during his career, Hollins has finished in the top-10 in steals during each season. That includes the 2017-18 season where he averaged 2.1 steals despite only playing 17 minutes per game.

Despite being in new surroundings as a member of the Grand Rapids Drive, his impact is a huge reason why the team had the league’s best defense, as opponents only averaged 101.3 points per 100 possessions against them.

Christ Koumadje - Delaware Blue Coats

4 blocks per game

Opponent On/Off Per 100 Possessions: On: (101.8 points per 100), Off: (109 points per 100)

While Kenny Wooten was able to use his athleticism to shine as one of the best rim protectors in the G League, Christ Koumadje walked into the G League as a block machine waiting to happen due to standing at 7’4, 265 pounds. Although his frame obviously came in handy a lot of times during his rookie year, the rookie was able to combine that with great awareness and really quick feet for a player his size.

Those traits allowed him to be an amazing rim protector while also growing over the course of the season. During the team’s last 10 games, Koumadje averaged 11.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, and an astounding 5.4 blocks on 66% from the field in only 28 minutes per game.

Jaylen Adams - Wisconsin Herd

1.8 steals per game

Opponent On/Off Per 100 Possessions: On (102 points per 100), Off: (106.2 points per 100)

For the second straight time, Jaylen Adams appears as a finalist for one of our year-end awards. In the same way as his progression as a shooter allowed him to be a pick for the Most Improved Player of the Year category, the same can be said about his work on the defensive end. On a team that was led by three 20+ point scorers (Adams, Frank Mason, and Rayjon Tucker before his call-up), the fact that great defense stood as arguably the biggest reason why they finished the year with a 33-10 record. During this past season, opponents only averaged 105.2 points per 100 possessions against the Herd, which placed them fourth in the G League.

Along with forcing turnovers, Adams’ ability to guard the perimeter stood as a big reason behind the team’s success. When the 2nd year guard was on the court, opponents only shot 32% from beyond the arc against the Herd. In comparison, their three-point percentage grew by almost five points when he was on the sidelines, where they hit 37% of their long-range attempts.