Note: This piece is part two of an ongoing series breaking down who we project to be the top 50 G League players for the upcoming 2019-20 season. In an easier way to select these players, we looked for players that have already impressed against solid pro competition, whether they were in the G League, elite European leaguers and even the NBA. That was due to how difficult it could be to project how former college players can perform at the G League level. If you’re just stumbling this piece, you can go here to read part one!
That was evident last year with former DII prospect Haywood Highsmith and 2018 All-American Trevon Bluiett. Highsmith shined at the G League level to the point where he landed a two-way with Meanwhile, Bluiett struggled due to getting inconsistent playing time with the Westchester Knicks and SLC Stars
40. Levi Randolph – Canton Charge: 14.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals on 48% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc on 4.3 attempts per game for the Canton Charge of the G League
For the third time in this article, we make our way to Canton and look at a member of the Charge roster. Although that may cause some repetition, Levi Randolph is a great veteran wing that definitely deserves a spot on this list. The biggest reason for that deals with his tremendous outside shooting as his 45% three-point shooting percentage stood as the fifth most efficient average in the entire G League. He’s able to maintain that tremendous efficiency either through catch-and-shoot or working off the dribble.
Perimeter shooting isn’t the only way that the veteran can contribute on the offensive end as he’s also able to shine as a post-up threat on the right block and attacking closeouts. Those traits allowed him to be a vital part of the Charge’s offense. His importance is shown by how the team was 2.4 points better per 100 possessions when he was on the court (104.4 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the sidelines (102.0 points per 100).
Randolph’s role as a consistent offensive weapon should allow him to maintain his status as an extremely key part of a Canton Charge team that has the talent to make a run in the Eastern Conference.
39. Jordan McLaughlin – Iowa Wolves (two-way with Minnesota): 15 points, 4.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game on 42% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc on 6.1 attempts per game for the Long Island Nets of the G League
Shortly after the end of the 2018-19 season, we did a series breaking down the twenty G League prospects that should sign two-way deals during that off-season. While a lot of those players ended up going overseas or signing exhibit 10 deals, there were a few players on that list that actually were snagged on those type of contracts. Former Long Island Nets guard Jordan McLaughlin is one of those guys, as he signed a two-way deal with the Timberwolves on July 20th.
As we described in that piece from June, McLaughlin spent his rookie year developing into the type of player that NBA team would love to have. For one, he’s tremendous on the defensive end through his work as one of the league’s best ball hawks. In addition to his great defense, the USC alum was a total package on the offensive end through being a tremendous on-ball driver, efficient facilitator (maintained a 2.7 Ast/TO ratio), to improving as a perimeter shooter. That development came over the course of the 2018-19 season as he started it off shooting 31% on 7.2 attempts per game from opening night to New Year’s Day. From that point until the end of the season, he shot 36% on 5.2 attempts per game.
While his great rookie year allowed McLaughlin to get a two-way deal with Minnesota, the 23-year-old definitely has an opportunity to keep boosting his stock as a player through his work with the Iowa Wolves. Despite only being a 2nd year player, expect the guard to take more of the team’s scoring load due to how young the Iowa Wolves will be.
38. Cam Reynolds – Wisconsin Herd (two-way with Milwaukee): 16 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 46% from field and 42% from 3 on 7.1 attempts in 28 minutes per game with Stockton Kings of the G League
One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2018-19 G League season was 6’8 rookie forward Cam Reynolds. When he entered Stockton Kings training camp last year, he honestly stood as forgettable rookie due to his status as an inconsistent shooter with Tulane University. However, it didn’t take long for him to make G League fans and writers take notice as he immediately looked like a different player during his first month with the Stockton Kings.
In November, he averaged 14.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 46% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc on 6.7 attempts per game. That mix of volume and perimeter efficiency was honestly surprising considering how he shot only 33% from 3 during his four-year college career.
That progression continued to the point where he was averaging an unbelievable 23.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1 steal on 56% from field and 51% from 3 on 8.2 attempts per game during five games in March. The forward didn’t have a chance to improve on that impressive stretch as he signed a 10-day deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 9th. Reynolds impressed during his limited time with Minnesota as he averaged 5 points and 1.6 rebounds on 42% from the field and 41% from 3 on 2.7 attempts per game.
Although the Timberwolves placed him on waivers before the official start to NBA free agency, he didn’t have to wait long to get picked up as the Bucks signed him to a two-way on July 22nd. Through that deal, he’ll likely spend most of the 2019-20 season in the G League with the Herd. With that team, the 6’8 forward will be in position to improve on that rookie year as he’ll work alongside Milwaukee’s talented two-way guard Frank Mason.
37. Demetrius Jackson – South Bay Lakers: 15.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game on 44% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc on 4.4 attempts per game in 66 total G League games:
Since leaving Notre Dame after his junior year to declare for the NBA Draft, Jackson has been caught in the proverbial pickle between the NBA and G League. Although that journey did start out in the Association, as he was selected with the 45th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Like a lot of players taken that late, Jackson never got much of an opportunity with the team as he played a grand total of 17 minutes with the Celtics before getting waived by the team in the following July.
In the following two seasons, Jackson stood in two-way purgatory with the Houston Rockets in 2017 and the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018-19. He was solid for both teams as he put up solid numbers in both locations. With Delaware and the RGV Vipers, he averaged 15.7 points, 5.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals on 46% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc in 34 total games.
Now in his fourth year as a pro, Jackson will look to build upon that solid stretch as an affiliate player for the South Bay Lakers. He might actually get a chance to improve his stock as a scorer as he’ll be working alongside pass-first guard David Stockton. In the moments he’s working as the team’s main facilitator, the young guard will have weapons to dish it off like Kostas Antetokounmpo, Zach Norvell, Jordan Caroline and Reggie Hearn.
36. CJ Wilcox – Fort Wayne Mad Ants: 15.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 47% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc on 6.5 attempts per game in a total of 41 G League games
For the first time since the 2016-17 season, Wilcox will enter the month of November healthy and ready for the upcoming season. Leading into the 2017-18 season, he suffered a right knee injury during training camp as a two-way player with the Trail Blazers roster which prevented him from stepping on the court until February 13th.
That season debut came with the Santa Cruz Warriors, where he 10.4 points, 2 rebounds on 45% from the field and 38% from 3 on 5.7 attempts in only 10 games. His brief run with Santa Cruz would later seem like a bright spot as the guard missed the 2018-19 season after suffering a torn Achilles during training camp with the Indiana Pacers.
One year after dealing with that misery, Wilcox will make his return to the G League as an affiliate player with the Indiana Pacers. Is it the best idea to get optimistic about a player that has struggled with injuries at the rate that the 6’5 guard has? Probably not. However, the veteran previously showed signs of brilliance back in the 2015-16 G League season with the Canton Charge and Bakersfield Jam (now Northern Arizona Suns).
He was the pinnacle of efficiency during that run where he averaged 18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 46% from the field and 42% from 3 on 7.8 attempts per game. In that stint, he was a well-rounded offensive weapon that can be efficient from the perimeter, probe to the paint and even facilitate. After an off-season and two training camps where he was able to rehab and get back into shape, I’m personally betting that CJ Wilcox will return to that level as a member of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
35. Chris Chiozza – Capital City Go-Go (two-way): 13.2 points, 7.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game on 44% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc on 4.3 attempts per game with the Capital City Go-Go and RGV Vipers:
To say that Chris Chiozza’s first month as a pro was lackluster would definitely be an understatement. During the month of November, he had an intense battle with inefficiency by averaging 10.6 points, 7.7 assists and 5 rebounds on 35% from the field and 24% from 3 on 4.7 attempts per game. For a lot of rookies, they might’ve lost their confidence after that rough first month.
However, that was the opposite for the Florida alum as his efficiency both grew and remained steady for the rest of the year. From December 1st through the end of the regular season, he averaged 13.7 points, 7.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game on 45% from the field and 44% from 3 on 4.3 attempts per game. That improved production caught the attention of the Houston Rockets, who signed the young guard to a 10-day deal with the Houston Rockets. He stayed with the organization for the remainder of the year making rare appearances with the RGV Vipers, their G League affiliate.
Similar to a lot of G Leaguers that get signed to late season contracts, Chiozza was waived by Houston once the calendar turned to July. It took until September 26th for him to figure out his immediate basketball future, as that date represented when the Wizards signed him to a training camp contract. Almost a month later on October 21st, that deal turned into a two-way contract. This will allow Chiozza to return to the Go-Go while having an opportunity to spend up to 45 days in the NBA with Washington.
34. Norvel Pelle – Delaware Blue Coats (two-way): 11.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 2.9 blocks per game on 70% from the field.
The fact that Norvel Pelle is on this top 50 list is a real testament to how hard the 6’10 big has worked to improve his game during his career. When he started his relationship with the G League back in the 2013-14 season, Pelle was a 20-year-old kid looking to continue his basketball career after being academically ineligible to play college ball.
During that year with the Delaware 87ers, he showed his upside by averaging 5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in only 13 minutes per game. That playing time was limited due to Pelle struggling to actually stay on the court as he had 2.9 fouls per game. Those struggles persisted when he embarked on an overseas career where he played in Italy and Lebanon with Homenetmen Beirut, OpenJobMetis Varese and Fiat Torino from 2015-16 through 2017-18.
Following that three-year run in Europe, he returned to the United States in 2018-19 to play with the Delaware Blue Coats. Although he couldn’t totally push his foul troubles to the background, Pelle still had his best year as a pro. In only 23 minutes per game, he averaged 11.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 2.9 blocks on 70% from the field. Those numbers allowed him to finish 4th in the G League in blocks per game and maintain the league’s 2nd best True Shooting Percentage (72% TS%).
Although he wasn’t called up during that season, the Philadelphia 76ers still kept him on their radar. That was evident during the summer when they signed him to a two-way contract. This deal should allow Pelle to get his first taste of NBA regular season action, which is crazy to believe as someone that watched him struggle to stay on the court back in 2013.
33. Jemerrio Jones – Wisconsin Herd: 9.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals on 54% from the field in 25 minutes per game with the South Bay Lakers in the G League
4.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game on 36% from the field in 24 minutes per game in the NBA with the LA Lakers
Although Cam Reynolds was a pleasant surprise during the 2018-19 G League season, the former New Mexico State guard takes the crown for the player that absolutely came out of nowhere. Getting selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2019 NBA G League Draft, the 6’5 wing was immediately able to stand out as one of the most unique players in the league. Although he was in the starting lineup only six times and averaged 25 minutes per game, Jones was still able to stand as a special player due to being a tenacious defender and amazing rebounder.
His great play on defense is shown by how worse opposing teams six points worse when Jones was on the court (89.2 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the sidelines or called up (95.6 points per 100). As a rebounder, his 3.4 boards per game were more than the likes of Alan Williams, Amida Brimah, Chinanu Onuaku, and Chris Boucher. That great production ultimately allowed Jones to get called up by the Los Angeles Lakers on March 31st.
During his brief six-game run with the team, he transferred his rebounding and defense over to the NBA as he found a way to average 8.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 24 minutes per game. While the 6’5 guard’s offensive efficiency was awful compared to his run with South Bay, the ability to defend and rebound at the same rate shows that he honestly has a future at the NBA level.
After an off-season that saw him get traded to the Wizards and then get waived by the team on October 16th, Jones was signed by the Milwaukee Bucks to an Exhibit 10 contract before getting waived just a few hours later. These moves ultimately leads to Jones’ current spot as a member of the Wisconsin Herd, where he’ll join the talented duo of Frank Mason and Cam Reynolds. With those guys likely to handle most of the scoring load, expect to see Jones focus on improving his work as a rebounder, facilitator, and defender.
32. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot – Long Island Nets (two-way): 5.7 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.1 assists on 39% from the field and 32% from 3 on 2.5 attempts per game in 171 career NBA games
For most NBA teams, they use their two-way slots on high upside 2nd round/undrafted rookies or players that stood out in the G League. However, the Brooklyn Nets have taken a different path with the concept that was introduced for the 2017-18 NBA season. While there are examples of them following that path with Jacob Wiley and Theo Pinson, they’ve taken a few detours with Yakuba Outtara in 2017-18 and Alan Williams in 2018-19.
One year after signing the experienced center, they’ve basically put a middle finger to the normal way of using two-ways by signing Henry Ellenson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who have played a combined 247 games in the NBA. 171 of those have come from Luwawu-Cabarrot, who bounced around with 76ers, Bulls and Thunder after getting selected by Philadelphia with the 24th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
As is probably evident from him bouncing around with three teams in that amount of years, Luwawu-Cabarrot wasn’t productive in the NBA. His efficiency took a stumble while being unable to contribute in the ways that were brought up in an article on him from 2016.
While those three years of lackluster play might remove most people’s optimism about a player, hope still rests in my heart. Is some of that due to not wanting to be proven wrong on the praise that was heaped at him three years ago? Definitely! However, he’s still an athletic 6’6 guard that plays great perimeter defense and is the owner of a pretty jumper. Those tools could ultimately led to him playing great basketball as a go-to guy for the Long Island Nets.
31. Marquis Teague – Memphis Hustle: 15.6 points, 5.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds on 43% from the field and 37% from 3 on 2.7 attempts per game in 161 career G League games.
For full transparency, Marquis Teague wasn’t part of this top 50 list just thirty minutes before I write this section. That change occurred after seeing ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski report that the Orlando Magic have signed Amile Jefferson to a standard two-year contract. While Jefferson was part of the list from the time of the rough draft to earlier today, him getting signed to a guaranteed NBA deal automatically makes him ineligible to this list dedicated to G Leaguers.
After that realization came, there was a fair bit of anxiety about making changes to a list where ⅕ of it is already set in stone. However, that worry subsided after taking a second look at Teague’s RealGM page as the eyes caught his great 2017-18 performance with the Memphis Hustle. Averaging 17.6 points, 6.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game on 45% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc on 3.2 attempts per game. In addition to those great averages, he also maintained a fantastic 2.7 Ast/TO ratio. To be honest, Teague probably would’ve been a G League All-Star if that still existed.
Following a year in South Korea, Teague returns to the G League with the Memphis Hustle. The guard will have a great chance to recapture that 2017-18 magic through being the likely starting point guard for opening night. In addition to that, he’ll have a lot of weapons to dish it off to which include: Dusty Hannahs, John Konchar, Yuta Watanabe, Jarrod Uthoff, Bennie Boatwright and Shaq Buchannan.