Note: This piece is the 2nd part of an ongoing series breaking down players from different backgrounds that could receive two-way deals this off-season. Click this link if you want to read part one or this one for part two.
Dakota Mathias - Texas Legends: 18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal on 43% from the field and 40% from 3 on 8.8 attempts per game
Back in Q&A piece that took place in early February, I said that Dakota Mathias was one G Leaguer whose exclusion from getting signed to a two-way or exhibit 10 contract was the most surprising. Although that perspective changed a bit in the five months since that article when Jaylen Adams remained unsigned until last week, the former Purdue sharpshooter still stands as a player that has proven that he deserves to get signed to a deal. That authentication process came through his play this year with the Texas Legends where he finished second in points while maintaining a stellar 61% True Shooting Percentage.
The 6’4 wing’s efficiency had a lot with his excellent jumper that allowed him to be extremely efficient no matter if he’s working off-the-dribble, through hand-off or in catch-and-shoot situations. His ability to consistently nail shots both in front and behind the three-point line allowed the Legends to be more than ten points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court (112.7 points per 100) compared to when he’s sitting on the sidelines (102.2 points per 100).
His status as a standout shooter that also wasn’t a detriment on the defensive end allows the 6’4 guard to be a veteran player that can definitely improve an NBA team’s 2nd unit. While we’ll probably have to wait until after the Disney World bubble comes to an end, the future of Mathias is a storyline to keep an eye on.
Levi Randolph - Canton Charge: 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 steals on 49% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 5.1 attempts per game
For the second time in this series, we feature a player that was one of our finalists for G League MVP. Although Jaylen Adams was signed by the Portland Trail Blazers as a substitute player shortly after the piece, Randolph has unfortunately remained a free agent during this process. The use of that negative verbiage in the previous sentence is warranted as the veteran wing has been a phenomenal well-rounded player over the last two G League seasons but only has spent a total of six days on an NBA roster during that period of time.
Considering the versatility that he’s shown during his career compared with the impact that he had on the Charge’s success during the 2019-20 campaign, Randolph stands as a great example of a smart and trustworthy veteran that would really help an NBA team out. If you want to know more about the confidence behind these two paragraphs, make sure to check out this piece from last December.
Barry Brown - Iowa Wolves: 13.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals on 45% from the field and 39% from 3 on 5.9 attempts per game
While they struggled during the 2019-20 season by finishing the pandemic-shortened season with a 19-24 record, the Iowa Wolves were still a fun to watch due to the amount of intriguing young talent that surrounded the roster. From two-way players Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin, T-Wolves assignee, and rookies like Lindell Wigginton, Jordan Murphy, and Tyus Battle, the team was filled with interesting young prospects that would be recognizable to a lot of college basketball fans.
One of those players that really stood out during their rookie season was former Kansas State guard Barry Brown. While he finished only seventh on the team in points per game among guys that played at least ten games, he was still able to stand out for being able to be a positive contributor on both ends of the ball. On the offensive end, the 6’3 guard was able to shine through being an excellent perimeter threat that was very efficient on the corners, left wing, and the top of the key.
Combined with being a strong perimeter shooter, Brown was able to use his rookie year to prove that he can drive to the rim with both hands and play solid on-ball defense with an ability to stick onto his man while maneuvering around screens. While he didn’t put up the flashiest numbers as a rookie, Brown’s versatility and the fact he’s only 22-years-old makes him a perfect player for a two-way deal as he’s had success at the G League level while still having room to grow as a player. Honestly, don’t be surprised if he ends up as the 2020-21 version of Jordan McLaughlin.
Justin Simon - Windy City Bulls: 12.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 steals on 43% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc on 3.2 attempts per game
If you were to ask me which former St. John’s guard would have the best rookie year before the 2019-20 G League season started, the answer would probably be Shamorie Ponds, who was then on a two-way with Toronto. However, that hypothetical prediction would end up being wrong as struggles during the first two months of his pro career pushed the Raptors to waive Ponds on January 17th to bring in veteran wing Paul Watson
At the same time that Ponds stumbled out of the gate, his former backcourt mate was in the midst of a solid rookie year. As a member of a young Windy City Bulls team, Simon joined two-way guard Adam Mokoka to create one of the best defensive duos in the G League. While Mokoka was more of an on-ball stopper, the St. John’s alum stood as one of the more feared thieves in the G League. No matter if he was playing on-ball defense, switching onto another player, or working in the passing lanes, the 6’5 guard always stood as a threat to force a turnover.
His knack as a tremendous defender was vital for Simon as his work on the offensive end was rough. Whether it’s 3-point shooting percentage, efficiency from around the rim and True Shooting Percentage, Simon’s struggles were apparent no matter which angle you take or metric that your eyes glance at. Despite those problems, Simon’s defense combined with him being an athletic 6’5 guard allows him to be a two-way prospect for a team that might be looking for their version of Andre Roberson.
Jarrod Uthoff - Memphis Hustle: 19 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.4 steals on 49% from the field and 37% from 3 on 5.5 attempts per game
If you want an example of how hard it is to get to the NBA and be able to stick, look no further than Jarrod Uthoff. Dating back to his college career with the Iowa Hawkeyes, this man has been fantastic no matter what level of competition he’s going against. At the NCAA level, his excellence was evident during his senior year where he was named a consensus 2nd team All-American and was part of the All-Big Ten Defensive Team and First Team by both the coaches and media.
Although he didn’t get selected in the 2016 NBA Draft, Uthoff has been a reliable scoring threat as he hasn’t maintained a True Shooting Percentage worse than 56% during his three years in the G League and 2018-19 run with Zenit Saint Petersburg of the Russian VTB United League.
While he was excellent during his first three years as a pro, Uthoff really put it all together by shining as a legitimate double-double threat, work as a point forward, and be able to light it up from beyond the arc. That versatility allowed him to be a vital part of a Memphis Hustle squad that finished the pandemic-shortened season with a franchise-best 26-15 record.
Despite being an established veteran at both the G League and international level, Uthoff is only 27-years-old and seems to still be progressing as a player. That combined with his versatile game could allow Uthoff to be the type of two-way player that adds depth to a team in a particular position while also still having some type of upside.