During the 2019-20 season and the subsequent post-season articles, there hasn’t been a G League player that has been written about more on this site than Gabe Vincent. If you’ve read any of those pieces, you’d probably be able to quickly understand why he’d be a no-doubt option to be a finalist for Most Improved Player of the Year. However, if you’re here and haven’t checked out one of those five articles that mention the UC-Santa Barbara alum’s journey during this past year, let me give you a rundown.
Due to a combination of struggling with a hand injury that delayed the start of his pro career by more than a month and inconsistent playing time, Vincent was lackluster during his rookie year with Stockton. In 24 games, the 6’3 guard averaged 8.7 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.3 rebounds on 38% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc on 8.7 attempts in 19 minutes per game. Those shooting averages pushed him to maintain an atrocious 43% True Shooting Percentage, which stood as the 3rd worst percentages on that year’s Kings team.
Despite the rough rookie season, the guard was still invited to play with the Nigerian national team for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Although struggles during the group stage prevented them from making a run in the tournament. However, the team’s struggles definitely weren’t able to be blamed on Vincent as the guard impressed by averaging 12 points and 1.6 steals on 51% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc on 6 attempts in 19 minutes per game. While we didn’t know it at the time, that performance was the precursor for what was about to come.
After two rough games against the Santa Cruz Warriors during the opening weekend of the season where he shot 33% from the field, Vincent went on the type of scoring stretch that stunned the G League masses. From a November 15th game against the Memphis Hustle to the end of the calendar year, he put up 25.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals on 48% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 11.2 attempts per game. Those phenomenal numbers were due to him putting up 30+ points six times during that fifteen game stretch.
“Gabe used last season as motivation to prove to himself that he belonged in the NBA,” Stockton Kings head coach Ty Ellis told Ridiculous Upside. “He fully committed to the mental and physical development that is required. He studied film, embraced coaching, and worked out with more purpose and focus. I’m extremely proud and thankful to have been a part of his journey.”
During the middle of that phenomenal stretch with Stockton, Vincent had to change area codes due to the Miami Heat signing him to a two-way deal on January 8th. Due to the restrictions of the contract and Miami’s status as a playoff-caliber team, the guard most of his time with that new squad in the G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, their G League affiliate.
From the perspective of both efficiency and scoring volume, the UC-Santa Barbara alum took a step back. In eleven games with the team, he put up 16.4 points, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 rebounds on 39% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on 10 attempts per game. Those numbers pushed Vincent’s True Shooting Percentage down from 64% with Stockton to 59% with Sioux Falls.
While he took a minor step back after signing with Sioux Falls, the phenomenal step that the 6’3 guard took during a twelve month span is still absolutely incredible. Gabe Vincent’s progression from an inefficient 2nd unit guard to an electrifying two-way prospect are the reasons why Gabe Vincent is Ridiculous Upside’s NBA G League Most Improved Player of the Year for the 2019-20 season.
Most Improved Player of the Year runner-up: Paul Watson, Raptors 905