G-League Showcase 2018 report.

The NBA now has 26 of their 30 franchises directly affiliated with a G-League team. Six new teams came into being this season. If you thought that perhaps with such a deep pool of players there might not be enough talent to sustain the league, well, think again. Factors from organization of the league, to increased pay for players, and most importantly, the new for 2017-18 "two-way' contracts, have created a talent-rich group of G-Leaguers. Players who in the past may have considered playing professionally in countries outside the United States and Canada, are now willing to accept G-League deals. A two-way contract pays a player $75,000 as a base but for any days spent with the NBA squad, the player gets a prorated NBA minimum salary. That can bump the earnings for the player to an estimated $275,000 if all goes perfectly.

The G-League held their annual Showcase January 10 through January 13th in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. We annually break away from NBA games to closely examine the G-League when the Showcase is running. To summarize our overriding thought at the conclusion of the 2018 Showcase, there is no shortage of players in the G-League that could come into an NBA contest and play rotation minutes.

We really urge all who "look down" on the G-League to reconsider their positions. NBA front office politics play a huge role in who actually is receiving minutes in the Association. There are unquestionably good players in the G-League that are in some (not all) cases better than a player who plays 20 to 25 minutes a game on a team with a losing record in the "Big Show". Last year we hyped David Nwaba as a guy who should be in the NBA. A year later, he is proving that to be true as a rotation player for the Chicago Bulls.

After watching and analyzing Showcase games (including meticulous note taking), and thoroughly examining the current 2017-18 statistics of the 239 G-League players that had played a minimum of 300 minutes, we came up with a list of 16 players we consider to be the best of the G-League this season to-date.

Point Guards

Briante Weber - Recently waived by the Houston Rockets (to make room for G-League standout, Markel Brown), Weber, in our estimation, is the best player available. It is crucially important to SEE the OBVIOUS with Weber. He is a pest on defense. He gets into the man he is guarding and he creates chaos. His tenacious D ultimately leads to a better defensive rating for virtually all the teams he suits up for. Weber stands 6'2" and weighs an estimated 175 lbs. He will probably never be mistaken for a a great three-point shooter but he also is not as bad as he once was. This season, Weber, if you combine G-League and NBA threes, is connecting on 35% (14 of 40). ...Still seeking that perfect fit, six NBA teams (Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, Hornets, Lakers, Rockets) have signed and waived Weber since March 2016. He was recovering from a torn ACL and MCL on his first two NBA attempts. Sources have indicated to us that the Memphis coaching staff in 2016 did not think much of Weber and he was released following a ten-day contract. Weber's next turn ended in Miami as one of the last cuts of training camp for the 2016-17 season. The Warriors had Weber for two ten-day contracts in February 2017. His next stop was Charlotte for two more ten-day deals. Finally, Charlotte signed Weber to a multi-year NBA deal in late March of 2017. However, the Hornets did an about face, and waived Weber in July. The Lakers came calling next and Weber was with them through the preseason. Ultimately, the Lakers crowded backcourt led to Weber's release, right before the NBA season started. Weber was then scooped up the Rockets on a two-way contract. ...We believe that Weber (25 years-old) is good enough to be a top-tier backup Point Guard in the NBA. Teams like New Orleans, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, and Orlando could all step up their second unit backcourt with the addition of Weber.

Quinn Cook - Cook is a two-way player for the Golden State Warriors. The 24 year-old Point Guard is among our favorites mostly due to his skill set and the way he carries himself on the floor. Cook is not easily rattled. The 6'2", 180 lb., 24 year-old Duke product is a competitor that can knock down the deep-ball (42% 3-pt.). He was undrafted in 2015 but he opened eyes with his play in the D-League (now the G League). Cook was 2015-16 D League Rookie of the Year. He plays 'under control' and 'in control'. He is an elite free throw shooter too at 93% this season.


Alex Caruso - Caruso was great in NBA Summer League play and he kept right on rolling through the first 19 games of the G-League season. The two-way player for the Lakers is a 6'5", 190 lb. PG that consistently makes plays for himself and others. Caruso is shooting 38% from three-point range, and sporting a 1.86-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Just 23 years-old, Caruso continues to gain strength. There is no question in our mind that Caruso could hold his own in a NBA contest.

Shooting Guards:

Tyrone Wallace - Wallace is presently getting NBA minutes as a two-way player for the Clippers. The 6'5", 195 lb., 23 year-old, played some Point Guard at Cal before being drafted in the 2016 second round by the Utah Jazz. We don't see Wallace as a natural PG. He is more like a defensive minded, high I.Q., shooting guard. He is excellent in transition. ...Wallace's deep-shooting is not there yet. In 23 G-League games this season, he hit just 27% of his three-point attempts. His sketchy stroke also shows up in his 65% free throw percentage. ...Wallace makes our list because he knows his limitations, minimizes mistakes, and he gives an honest effort on defense. He is athletic enough to hinder opposing guards at either position.

Torrey Craig - The Denver Nuggets unearthed a possible gem in Torrey Craig. He is a two-way player for the Nuggs that played his college ball at South Carolina Upstate. Craig then spent the better part of three basketball seasons playing in Australia and New Zealand. Craig is a 27 year-old wing that can hit threes (37 % 3-pt.), defend, and make the right play more often than not (1.33-to-1 ast-to-t.o. ratio).

Derrick Jones Jr. - Standing 6'7", and weighing in at 190 lbs., the high-flying Jones can play either Shooting Guard or Small Forward. Given the 20 year-old's skinny frame we prefer to look at him as more of a backcourt guy than a forward. The average NBA SF weighs 220 lbs., and Jones may may not reach that weight for a few more seasons, if ever. Jones is more "athlete" than basketball player at this stage of his development. He shoots just 28% from beyond the arc, and his free throw stroke is inconsistent (67% FT). Jones has slightly more assists than turnovers this season, an area that he has shown improvement in. ...The bottom-line on Jones is that he is a freak athlete that is just 20 years-old. He is improving. What he may become seems worth the investment.

Small Forwards  

Daniel Hamilton - Another one of our favorites in the G-League is Daniel Hamilton. He is a playmaker that can routinely get a "piece of the paint" and then either finish himself or (more often) assist to a cutter. Hamilton is on a two-way deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. With both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony on the OKC roster, we would not look for Hamilton to get meaningful NBA minutes any time soon. However, maybe a savvy team will make a run at Hamilton in a trade. Hamilton is 22 years-old. He presently has G-League averages of 16 points (40% FG, 30% 3-pt., 82% FT), 9.2 rebounds, and 8.1 assists.

Jaron Blossomgame - Blossomgame is a physical, 24 year-old, player that has a knack for scoring. He has the prerequisite size to fit right into the NBA Small Forward landscape. Standing 6'7" and weighing in at 220 lbs., Blossomgame often overpowers his opponents in the G-League. He is shooting the 3-ball at 37% while scoring 15.9 points per game. The main area of concern in Blossomgame's game is his decision making. He has more turnovers than assists. ...Blossomgame was a 2017 second round pick of the Spurs.

Tony Mitchell (Alabama) - Now 28 years old, Tony Mitchell is still grinding it out, looking for a shot as an NBA player. His game has come a long way. Mitchell was an undersized PF in college. Aside from occasional face-up elbow jump shots, Mitchell was very limited as a guy you could play on the wing. Fast forward six seasons, and Mitchell is now a certified threat from the outside (37% 3-pt.). Plus, he never lost his skills that made him a guy who could 'mix-it-up' in the paint. Mitchell is a high hoop I.Q. guy. He has what we call a "feel" for the game. He presently has a 1.38-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Mitchell was playing internationally but returned to his USA home to participate in the G-League this season.

Jakarr Sampson - Sampson is on a two-way contract with the Sacramento Kings. He is a hyper-athletic forward that has shown improvement in his perimeter shooting. He can take his man off the dribble, and even when he misses shots, he is great as a offensive rebounder. He is tough. Sampson stands 6'8" and weighs approximately 235 lbs. He has no problem banging in the paint if need be. His flaws continue to include decision making and knocking down deep balls. While he has improved his three-point accuracy (33% when you combine 2017 Summer League, NBA preseason, NBA regular season, and G-League), he still turns the ball over too much (nearly two turnovers for every one assist). Sampson is 24 years old.

Power Forwards / Stretch Fours

Christian Wood - 22 year-old Christian Wood should be in the NBA. He is easily the best BIG body in the G-League. He is averaging 21.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots per game. At 6'10", 216 lbs., Wood can score inside or outside. The outside shooting is an area of improvement for Wood. While he always seemed to like shooting threes, he was never very accurate. This season he is hitting 35% of his deep shots. Wood started the season in China but ne never played in a game and was ultimately released from his CBA team. ...Wood famously went undrafted after declaring at the conclusion of his sophomore season at UNLV (2014-15).

Ivan Rabb - Rabb was a second round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2017 NBA Draft. He has spent the majority of his time in the G-League for the Memphis Hustle. Still a few weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Rabb is looking like a player that can potentially have a long NBA career. The shooting numbers for Rabb are nice. He is connecting on 56% of his field goal attempts, and making 75% of his foul shots. He does not shoot a high volume of threes but he has made 5 of his 10 attempts this season. He takes reasonably good care of the ball and has more assists than turnovers.


Amile Jefferson - Jefferson was signed Monday (Jan. 15, 2018) to a two-way contract by the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was a good move in our opinion. Jefferson was well coached at Duke, finishing up his amateur status in 2017. He went undrafted but that may have been a mistake. Jefferson is a terrific rebounder that more often than not makes the correct play. He is averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds (tops in the G-League) per game. Jefferson needs to improve his perimeter shooting. He is presently not a threat from deep.


Shevon Thompson - Thompson is a legit seven-footer that is the best "goalie" in the G-League. It is not that he blocks a million shots, but he CHANGES more than his fair share. He is also an elite defensive rebounder. When he is on the floor, the Raptors 905 (that's the team name) is 7.9 points per 100 possessions better defensively. That is a BIG number. Thompson is pretty raw on offense but he can make free throws (72%) better than many BIGs. He will turn it over more than twice for every one assist. ...In basketball, there are different ways to win games. If a team is loaded with scorers and good decision makers, a guy like Thompson could fit in as a pure defensive presence.

Thomas Bryant - Were it not for a VERY crowded roster of BIGs on the Lakers, Thomas Bryant would most likely be getting NBA minutes. The 6'11" 241 lb. 20 year-old is skilled enough to foresee many years of NBA action in his future. Bryant can legitimately knock down NBA three-point shots. He has taken 100 threes in the G-League this season and he's made 40 of those attempts. Yet, even though he likes the deep shot, his overall field goal percentage is 59%. Bryant has likely benefited in that regard from playing with Alex Caruso who sets him up at the rim very nicely. Bryant needs to be better at controlling his mistakes with passing, and his free throw shooting could and should be better than 69% considering his nice touch.

Xavier Gibson - If Xavier Gibson could somehow get himself in better condition (lose 15-20 lbs.), we think he could be worthy of NBA minutes. Gibson is an elite shot blocking presence. He was undrafted in 2012 after balling at Florida State. Now 29 years-old, Gibson is a well-seasoned international player. He played in Japan, Greece, and Turkey before returning to the States to be a member of the Lakeland Magic in the G-League. Gibson is not a scorer at all. He is mostly a shot blocking BIG but he has enough of a feel for the game to have more assists than turnovers. He also makes 73% of his foul shots.

Notes / Final Thoughts

In 2001 there were eight teams in the G-League. With the Washington Wizards adding themselves to the G-League party next season, the NBA's feeder league will be just three teams away from having all of the NBA franchises directly affiliated. By the way, the Wizards G-League team will be known as the Capital City Go-Go's. ...Only Denver, New Orleans, and Portland will be without a G-League team. ...There is real reason to list the NBA G-League as one of the best basketball leagues in the world right now. If the G-League is not a clear-cut number two to the NBA, it is getting closer.