Ahmad Caver - Memphis Hustle
Towards the final weeks of the 2019-20 campaign before COVID-19 abruptly ended the season, Shaq Buchanan and Ahmad Caver were two players that stood out. While Buchanan was a scoring machine, who averaged 20.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists with a 59% True Shooting Percentage in his last ten games, Caver stood out for his work as a facilitator and lockdown perimeter defender.
This year, Caver’s elite defense has carried over, as opponents are shooting just 33% from the field in 24 possessions on pick-and-roll possessions when they’re matched up against Caver, according to Synergy Sports. Another statistical example that shows his impact on the defensive end would be how opponents are twenty one points worse per 100 possessions when he’s on the court (111.2 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the sidelines (90 points per 100).
In addition to his phenomenal work on the defensive end, Caver has excelled on the other end of the floor. In seven games with the team, he’s averaging 15.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2 steals on 52% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc on two attempts per game. Those numbers allowed him to maintain a 67% True Shooting Percentage and 57% effective Field Goal Percentage, which is a 11% and 7% growth on each number from the previous season.
Although a lot of that factors in a February 17th game where he put up 35 points on 12-15 shooting against OKC, it’s clear that he’s progressed at taking his man off the dribble and scoring around the rim, as he’s added some change-of-pace moves to his arsenal that aid his path from perimeter to the rim.
Armoni Brooks - RGV Vipers
After a solid rookie year, that featured a fantastic end that pushed us to highlight him in a February, 2020 piece, Brooks returned to the G L league for the 2021 bubble season. Although he was a rookie with College Park in 2019-20, the team deciding to not go to Disney World ultimately pushed him to join the G League draft pool. It didn’t take long for the former Houston standout to get picked as the RGV Vipers selected him with the 10th overall pick in the G League Draft.
So far, that selection is looking to have panned out for RGV as the former University of Houston standout is currently averaging 15.6 points, 3.2 assists, and 3.6 rebounds on 42% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc on 10.3 attempts per game. Those shooting numbers has allowed him to currently maintain a 58% True Shooting Percentage and 57% effective Field Goal Percentage. Brooks’ efficiency is impressive when you note that a lot of that has come when he’s working off the dribble trying to create his own shot.
Although his scoring has been solid, and a significant step forward from his rookie year in terms of per game numbers, the biggest growth that Brooks has shown this year is as a facilitator. With the new team, Brooks has done a lot of work as a ball-handler in pick-and-rolls and in drive-and-dish opportunities. In pick-and-rolls, Brooks has been impressive as he shows the patience needed to wait for the roll man while also knowing how to capture the defense’s attention while the big moves to the basket. Along with that, he’s shown this real ability to throw precise passes out to his teammates while on the move.
Brooks’ progression in that area allows the Houston alum to be a potential two-way option during this off-season as the evolving offensive game will allow the 22-year-old to be an intriguing option for an NBA team looking for a combo guard to help in their 2nd unit.
OShae Brissett - Fort Wayne Mad Ants
As a rookie with the Toronto Raptors organization due to being a two-way prospect, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that he had a disappointing debut season. In 28 games with the Raptors 905, he averaged 15.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists on 42% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc on 4.7 attempts per game. Although that was his most efficient year as a player, his 47% effective Field Goal Percentage that he maintained as a rookie was a career-high, it wasn’t high enough to have him stick with the Raptors for more than one season as the team waived him during training camp.
Like Brooks, Brissett entered the G League Draft where he was selected in the 2nd round by Fort Wayne. Honestly, the 2nd year forward has looked like a steal so far through the growth that he’s shown since last year. In eight games with the team, he’s averaging 18 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on 46% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 5.9 attempts per game.
Those great numbers were largely caused by two great recent performances. In the February 20th game against the Iowa Wolves, Brissett had 26 points and 11 rebounds on 10-20 from the field, 4-10 from 3, and 2-4 from the free throw line. On the following day, he followed it up by having a 28 point, 11 rebound, 4 assist, 2 steal, and a block on 9-18 from the field, 3-9 from 3, and 3-3 from the free throw line performance against his former team in the Raptors 905.
In both of those games, he stood out as a reliable catch-and-shoot threat, someone that can drive on players that are closing out and pushing it up the floor in transition. Although two of those three skills have been a part of his arsenal dating back to his time with Syracuse, Brissett’s progression as a catch-and-shoot threat is noticeable. As a rookie with the Raptors 905, the Syracuse alum only shot 25% on a total 93 catch-and-shoot attempts, according to Synergy Sports. So far during the 2020-21 campaign, that percentage has climbed to 37% on a total of 30 attempts.
While we’re uncertain if that progression as a catch-and-shoot threat is enough to warrant him getting another two-way deal, the evolution that he’s shown has made it clear that the 22-year-old is playing the best basketball of his young career.