The NBA Development League, now known as the G League, held its annual draft (somewhat) recently.
According to NBA PR, a record 44 percent of the players on NBA teams at the end of 2016-17 boasted NBA D-League experience. That’s a staggering number that helps illustrate its importance. With 26 franchises (and another already signed up for 2018-19), it’s only a matter of time until every NBA team has its own minor league affiliate. Based on Adam Silver’s recent statements about potentially permitting players to enter the G League draft straight out of high school, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this become a much more highly-anticipated thrill-ride in future years. For now though, it remains a mostly under-the-radar event where some of the best less-known ballers in the world hear their names called out by professional franchises — and we should celebrate these players for earning an opportunity to play ball for a living.
Before diving into a short (but hopefully sweet) draft recap, here’s a short list of guys who went on to enjoy quality NBA careers after being selected in the D-League Draft. Perhaps I’m just stalling, but I think it’s worth mentioning some names in order to show how likely it is that this year’s draft class features some diamonds in the rough who will become NBA players.
Robert Covington, Tennessee State (first pick, 2014) Grand Rapids Drive
A hard-nosed, 3-and-D force to be reckoned with for Philly, Covington is about to become a very rich man next summer, and stands to have a chance at making All-Defensive teams in the future if he keeps up his current pace. He actually moved up to the NBA right away following the draft, but the season prior Robert was the D-League Rookie of the Year.
Lance Thomas, Duke (19th pick, 2010) Austin Spurs
Thomas, who wrote this exceptional piece for the Players’ Tribune, got his start in the D-League. Health willing, he’ll surpass 300 career games this season, and his best days may still be ahead of him as a power forward off the bench for a contender.
Alonzo Gee (sixth pick, 2009) Austin Spurs
Gee went undrafted in 2009, and after the summer league and tryouts, he had to make a name for himself in the D-League. It’s possible we have seen the last of him in the NBA, but he appeared in over 400 games in his career.
C.J. Watson (fifth pick, 2007) Rio Grande Valley Vipers
After going undrafted, playing overseas for a season and failing to make it out of Charlotte’s NBA training camp, Watson became a big hit for the Vipers, and subsequently enjoyed a 10-year career. Orlando may have waived Watson this summer, but his career was at least somewhat revived (in spirit) by Conor McGregor.
Chris Andersen (first pick, 2001) Fayetteville Patriots
Better know as Birdman, Andersen’s pro career began in China and continued in the now-defunct International Basketball Association before an NBA summer league stint led to his selection with the first pick of the D-League’s first draft. Chris went on to help the Heat win a title thanks to his efficiency in the pick-and-roll game and his hustle, height and heart on defense.
And without further ado, here are some thoughts on the players selected in the first two rounds, followed by the remainder of the 2017 draft results.
1. Eric Stuteville (Sacramento State) – Northern Arizona Suns
A 6-11 big who doesn’t stretch the floor on offense or provide a ton of rim protection, Eric is not guaranteed to reach the NBA. With that being said, he’s a little bit like Aron Baynes, a bulky, strong center that’s quicker than one might think. If he improves his interior defense and overall awareness, he could be an intriguing player to keep an eye on.
2. Brandon Austin (Northwest Florida St.) – Reno Bighorns
The relatively unknown but versatile two-way wing faced sexual assault allegations in college, making him a high-risk selection.
3. Maverick Rowan (NC State) – Lakeland Magic
A 6-7 shooting guard with lots of work to do on the defensive end, Rowan will probably need to prove that he can slide his feet fast enough to cover opposing wings and show that he can do more than hit threes on offense.
4. Thomas Wimbush (Fairmont St.) – Long Island Nets
An athletic 6-7 forward who made two threes on 35.1 percent as a senior, Wimbush’s selection was seen as a surprise, and could prove to be a reach. Then again, his potential is palpable, and he noticeably improved his game every year of his college career.
5. Paul Watson (Fresno St.) – Westchester Knicks
At 6-7, 200 lbs., Watson has good size for a guard, but he didn’t show a ton of progress during his four-year collegiate career.
6. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (Temple) – Northern Arizona Suns
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the National Basketball League of Canada and older brother of Brooklyn’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Rahlir (26) has been a stalwart since his days with the Temple Owls. Back in college, Rahlir hoisted just three three-pointers in four seasons combined, but last year he made 1.1 per game (on 32.8 percent). This guy is as gritty as anybody, and at 6-6, 220 lbs., he has the size, speed and strength to cover at least three positions (2-4).
7. Chris Flemmings (UNC-Wilmington) – Reno Bighorns (traded to Maine Red Claws)
Flemmings is a solid scorer with fine footwork who can do a little bit of everything on that end. Furthermore, at 6-5 and 200 lbs., he has excellent size for a guard, making him a potential sleeper pick in this early portion of the draft.
8. Marquise Moore (George Mason) – Iowa Wolves
Listed at 6-2, 205 lbs. and boasting a 6-7 wingspan, Moore is a tank of a point guard who loves to attack the basket, whether it be for buckets or boards. Marquise averaged 16.9 points (on 48.3 percent shooting), 10.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists (to 2.8 turnovers) in 34.9 minutes as a senior in 2016-17. Rest assured, he’s not afraid to shoot his long-shots on Twitter.
But in four years at college, Moore made just 17 threes (on 24.6 percent), which could be a hurdle for him at the next level.
9. Mychal Mulder (Kentucky) – Windy City Bulls
Double M’s went eighth and ninth. Initials aside, both guards have good size, but Mulder is the superior shooter. At 6-4, 187 lbs. and sporting a 6-8 wingspan, he is still on the slender side. Mychal didn’t get a ton of playing time (10.6 minutes in 32 games as a sophomore), and rather than spending another year glued to John Calipari’s bench, Mulder made his move to the pros.
10. Scott Machado (Iona) – South Bay Lakers
Machado (27), a 6-2, 205-lb. guard (with a 6-4 wingspan) has been sensational in stretches during recent summer league stints. He is also a former MAAC Player of the Year (2012) who led the nation in assists (9.9 per game) and soon thereafter became a member of the NBA D-League All-Rookie First Team (2013). He has been overseas for the last few years.
11. Jay Wright (Louisiana-Lafayette) – Northern Arizona Suns (traded to Lakeland Magic)
An undersized guard with a high hoops IQ, Wright is a fiery athlete who can do a little bit of everything on offense, including soar for slams, stroke threes and rain teardrop floaters, plus he averaged 2.0 steals per game last year as a junior.
12. Darin Johnson (Cal State Northridge) – Delaware 87ers
Listed at 6-5, 200 lbs. with a near-6-7 wingspan, Johnson is a superb athlete with a smooth-looking shot. After playing two seasons at Washington, his decision to transfer resulted in a breakout campaign to the tune of 13.8 points (46.3 FG, 36.8 3Pt, 81.2 FT) and 3.7 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game.
13. Malcolm Bernard (Xavier) – Grand Rapids Drive
A four-year college player, Bernard had his shiniest statistical season for Florida A&M as a junior, posting 14.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 32.6 minutes per game. However, as a senior with Xavier, he stepped up in a big way, especially following the injury to Edmond Sumner. At 6-6, 202 lbs., Bernard is a strong defender and a good glue guy who fit well alongside Trevon Bluiett — and also had some impressive and efficient individual showings down the stretch that helped the Wildcats knock off Butler in the conference tournament (12 points, 10 boards, four dimes, one steal) and then dethrone their higher-seeded namesake (15 points on six shots and six rebounds against Arizona) en route to the Elite Eight.
14. Kris Jenkins (Villanova) – Sioux Falls Skyforce
Jenkins will forever be famous for sinking one of (if not the most) clutch shots in the history of hoops. Words won’t do it justice.
15. Tyler Roberson (Syracuse) – Agua Caliente Clippers
Tyler saw his role reduced as a senior, as he went from earning 30.8 minutes (in 37 starts) as a junior to seeing 20.4 in six starts this past season, yet he posted a career-best 0.8 blocks per game. Listed at 6-8 and 212 lbs. with a 7-2 wingspan and no shortage of bounce, there’s plenty of reason to think he can eventually slide to center. This would ultimately help his chances of survival at the next level since he went 0-for-10 from three and made just 57.5 percent of his free throws as an Orangeman.
16. Cole Huff (Creighton) – Greensboro Swarm
At 6-8, 210 lbs. with a knockdown jumper (1.8 threes on 46.3 percent as a senior), Huff is a firm role player who mostly takes efficient shots in the flow of the offense, but can go to work for a bucket too. Cole likes to run out in transition or hang back and hoist treys as the trailer, and excels at coming off screens and setting them. The question will be whether he can stay low and move his feet fast enough to keep up on defense, where he averaged 0.5 steals and 0.3 blocks in 23.7 minutes over four years.
17. Maksym Pustozvonov (Ukraine) – Memphis Hustle (traded to Canton Charge)
A 30-year-old small forward from Kiev, Pustozvonov didn’t hear his name called in the 2009 NBA Draft, but he has made a name for himself in Romania and Ukraine, winning everything from championships to MVP trophies and representing his homeland in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
18. Jeremy Hollowell (Georgia St.) – Erie BayHawks
A four-year college player who split time at Indiana and Georgia St., Hollowell is listed at 6-8, 218 lbs. with a 6-11 wingspan. He improved his outside shooting and rebounding in every season. However, his turnovers (213) outweighed his assists (145), an area where he seemed to regress every year.
19. Cullen Russo (Fresno St.) – Canton Charge (traded to Memphis Hustle)
Russo’s per-game college stats weren’t particularly outstanding, but he did finish his two-year career with more steals (102) and assists (122) than turnovers (89). And then there’s this.
20. Daesung Lee (BYU-Hawaii) – Erie BayHawks
The 6-4 forward from South Korea played one season in college, then averaged 13.8 points (48.8 FG, 45.5 3Pt 83.3 FT), 3.5 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 threes in four games for Korea, which finished second in the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 Qualifier.
21. Tra-Deon Hollins (Nebraska-Omaha) – Fort Wayne Mad Ants
An utterly terrifying defender who will look to improve his shooting, the 6-2, 190-lb. point guard posted career averages of 13.0 points (44.3 FG, 30.0 3Pt, 76.5 FT), 6.3 assists to 3.3 turnovers, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals in 32.6 minutes across two seasons.
22. Ian Baker (New Mexico St.) – South Bay Lakers
Listed at 6-0, 180 lbs., Baker was awarded WAC Player of the Year honors. Ian can do a little bit of everything, but like Hollins he’ll be looking to show he can hit the long-ball at the next level.
23. T.J. Wallace (Pacific) – Oklahoma City Blue
Wallace is a strong but undersized point guard who does most of his damage from along the perimeter.
24. Dominic Cheek (Villanova) – Maine Red Claws (traded to Reno Bighorns)
A 6-5 do-it-all wing who has been playing professionally in Canada and Mexico for the last half-decade, Cheek could be an immediate asset for a Bighorns club lacking at his position, according to Dakota Schmidt of SBNation’s Ridiculous Upside.
25. Tyler Harris (Auburn) – Agua Caliente Clippers
Listed at 6-9.5, 218 lbs. with a 6-10.5 wingspan, Tyler is the brother of Detroit’s Tobias Harris and the cousin of Cleveland’s Channing Frye. Tyler may need to take some shooting lessons from his smooth-stroking NBA family members, as he underwhelmed from the charity stripe and three-point line over four years combined at NC State, Providence (two) and Auburn.
26. Kethan Savage (Butler) – Raptors 905
Savage was a solid senior glue-guy at guard for the Bulldogs after transferring out of a prominent role with George Washington.
27. Tony Parker (UCLA) – Iowa Wolves
A 6-10, 262-lb. center with a 7-1.5 wingspan, Parker had a decent college career for the Bruins, but he graduated just before Lonzo’s arrival, and the team wasn’t winning much before Ball showed up. Tony sat 2016-17 out due to injury.
28. Sidy Djitte (Clemson) – Salt Lake City Stars
Another big man, measuring 6-10, 240 lbs. with a 7-3 wingspan, the Senegalese center showed steady progress in all four years at Clemson, and he has the size, strength and length to be a factor in the G-League.
29. Devin Carter (Arkansas St.) – Long Island Nets
A sharp-shooting guard who sank 40.9 percent from beyond the arc (on 7.4 attempts) in two seasons at Arkansas State. Measuring 6-4 and 200 lbs., Devin might be a tad undersized to play the 2 at the NBA level, but should be a solid fit here.
30. Buay Tuach (Loyola Marymount) – Long Island Nets
A fairly well-rounded but somewhat undersized 6-5 forward, Tuach greatly improved his outside shooting as a sophomore, increasing his three-point accuracy from 32.7 percent (on 2.0 attempts) to 40.2 percent (on 3.7 attempts).
31. Wesley Alves Da Silva (Brazil) – Grand Rapids Drive
A 6-7, 195-lb. forward with a 6-10 wingspan who looks more comfortable inside than out but still has a fairly soft touch.
32. Daniel Dingle (Temple) – Greensboro Swarm
A 6-7, 235-lb. guard who became the full-time starter for Temple as a senior, Dingle is not the most efficient offensive player, but he’s pretty well-rounded on that end. Furthermore, he showed considerable improvement on his three-point shooting once he earned the chance to play heavy minutes.
33. Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (Pittsburgh) – Salt Lake City Stars
At 6-9, 235 lbs., Alonzo has good size and strength and posted good per-36 numbers in boards and blocks, but overall he wasn’t much of a factor (at least not statistically speaking) for Richmond or Pittsburgh during four seasons in college.
34. Jimmie Taylor (Alabama) – Sioux Falls Skyforce
A physical force to be reckoned with. At 6-10, 240 lbs. with a 7-5.5 wingspan, Taylor’s motor will be the main question.
35. John Gillon (Syracuse) – Texas Legends
Gillon led the charge at point guard for the Orangemen for most of his senior year after transferring there from Colorado State (and Arkansas-Little Rock before that). While he’s undersized (6-0, 178 lbs.), John was efficient and steady as the lead playmaker for a team that narrowly missed out on making the NCAA tournament.
36. Tucker Haymond (Western Michigan) – Austin Spurs
A decent contributor on the offensive end, but the 6-6, 220-lb. wing needs to drastically improve on D to thrive in the G-League.
37. Tyshawn Abbott (Arizona St.) – Delaware 87ers
Ty is a shoot first, ask questions later, then maybe pass type of point guard who primarily does his work from three-point land.
38. Jerome Frink (LIU-Brooklyn) – South Bay Lakers
Awarded the 2016-17 Northeast Conference Player of the Year honors, Jerome is a 6-7, 230-lb. forward who loves to get after it on the boards and boasts a fairly well-rounded skillset. Still, his shooting percentages from the charity stripe and three-point line leave a lot to be desired — and he posted 286 turnovers to 159 assists in four college seasons.
39. Anthony LeFeau (Cerritos JC) – Reno Bighorns
A junior college standout who uses his body to his advantage on offense on the boards and in the post, LeFeau isn’t an amazing athlete. Nevertheless, the hefty lefty (6-8, 230 lbs.) can shoot it a little bit, and he seems to know his limitations as a player.
40. Jaylen Morris (Molloy) – Erie BayHawks
A 6-6, 200-lb. guard from Amherst, New York, Morris is an accomplished former D-II college player who dominated at that level, earning All-ECC First Team honors in 2016-17. He has an awful lot of tools in the shed that is his offensive arsenal.
41. Aaron Best (Ryerson) – Long Island Nets (traded to Raptors 905)
A smooth lefty who can stroke the three, drive the lane and haul in rebounds, Best definitely needs to improve as a playmaker if he’s going to operate as point guard more at the next level. Still, he’s an interesting sleeper prospect to say the least.
42. Ladarius White (Ole Miss) – Wisconsin Herd
This isn’t White’s first appearance in the G-League (three career games for two teams in 2015-16), and he spent last year with Slavia Kosice, where he averaged 13.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game.
43. LeRon Barnes (Houston) – Maine Red Claws
Barnes was the running mate of 2017 second-round draft pick Damyean Dotson, but LeRon was a low-usage role player who comparatively didn’t spend as much time in the spotlight.
44. Hanner Mosquera-Perea (East Tennessee St.) – Westchester Knicks
After three seasons with the Hoosiers, Hanner headed to ETSU, where he averaged 8.3 points (58.2 FG, 56.0 FT), 4.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 21.9 minutes per game as the full-time starter at center.
45. Shaquille Thomas (Cincinnati) Canton Charge (traded to Memphis Hustle)
Thomas is the nephew of former NBA player Tim Thomas, and at 6-7, 210 lbs. there will be plenty of teams trying to help him reach his full potential. Shaquille was not your standard Cincinnati Bearcat, in that he was much better on offense than defense.
46. Steve Weingarten (La Salle) – Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Weingarten was a D-League mainstay from 2013-2015 as a backup big man.
47. Derick Newton (Stetson) – Texas Legends (traded to Windy City Bulls)
A 6-7, 220-lb. forward who can score from all three areas, Newton will need to work on his playmaking and defense.
48. Tony Wroten (Washington) – Rio Grande Valley Vipers
49. Michael Lyons (Air Force) – South Bay Lakers
A 27-year-old guard who averaged 5.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 41 games with the Erie BayHawks last year.
50. Stedmon Lemon (Johnson C. Smith) – Oklahoma City Blue
Averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 13 D-League games last year.
51. Liam McMorrow (Tennessee Tech) – Raptors 905
A 30-year-old Canadian center who has spent the last few years playing professionally in China and Taiwan.
52. Vince Garrett (Wisconsin-Green Bay) – Iowa Wolves
53. Nahshon George (Idaho) – Salt Lake City Stars
54. Jarvis Williams (Minnesota State-Mankato) – Iowa Wolves
55. Javier Duren (Yale) – Lakeland Magic
56. Princeton Onwas (San Jose St.) – Westchester Knicks
57. Denzel Ingram (UNC-Wilmington) – Greensboro Swarm
58. Jordan Downing (Presbyterian) – Westchester Knicks
59. Davon Hayes (Southeast Louisiana) – Westchester Knicks
60. Devin Gilligan (Southern New Hampshire) Delaware 87ers
61. Grant Johnson (Winona St.) – Texas Legends
62. Anthony Beane (Southern Illinois) – Austin Spurs
63. Isaiah Zierden (Creighton) – Delaware 87ers
64. Danrad Knowles (Houston) – Grand Rapids Drive
65. Avry Holmes (Clemson) – Santa Cruz Warriors
66. Josh Sykes (Fresno City College) – Agua Caliente Clippers
67. Zane Knowles (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) – Wisconsin Herd (traded to South Bay Lakers)
68. Jalen Jones (UT-Arlington) – Memphis Hustle (traded to Canton Charge)
69. Chris Braswell (Charlotte) – Erie BayHawks
70. Jordan Price (La Salle) – Maine Red Claws
71. Eric Washington (Miami OH) – Raptors 905
72. Jordan Woodward (Oklahoma) – Texas Legends
73. Devon Bookert (Florida St.) – Rio Grande Valley Vipers
74. Antoine Mason (Auburn) – Texas Legends (traded to Erie BayHawks)
75. JD Tisdale Jr. (Rogers State) – Fort Wayne Mad Ants
76. Jamaal Brantley (Cameron TX) – Raptors 905
77. Akeem Richmond (East Carolina) – Reno Bighorns
78. Donte McGill (Florida International) – Lakeland Magic
79. Cordarius Johnson (Louisiana Tech) – Memphis Hustle
80. Henry Uwadiae (Dominican CA) – Westchester Knicks
81. Deshon Burgess (Union NY) – Erie BayHawks
82. Najeal Young (Texas Wesleyan) – Santa Cruz Warriors
83. Kendal Yancy (Texas) – Windy City Bulls
84. Prince Williams (East Carolina) – Texas Legends
85. Corey Allen (South Florida) – Austin Spurs
86. Derrick Nix (Michigan St.) – Windy City Bulls
87. Derrick Wilson (Marquette) – Grand Rapids Drive
88. Tre Burnette (South Dakota) – Sioux Falls Skyforce
89. Wally Ellenson (Marquette) – Oklahoma City Blue
90. Kyle Randall (Central Michigan) – Memphis Hustle
91. Joshua Blamon (Stockton) – Wisconsin Herd
92. Gokul Natsean (Colorado Mines) – Canton Charge
93. Robert Heyer (Boise St.) – South Bay Lakers
94. Rodney Cooper (Alabama) – Rio Grande Valley Vipers
95. Amjyot Singh (India) – Oklahoma City Blue
96. Malik Story (Nevada) – Santa Cruz Warriors