Hassan Whiteside, Center, Miami Heat
Hassan Whiteside is one of the more intriguing names from the G League that will be looking to take another step in the NBA this season. The seven-footer, who saw time in the G League with the Reno Bighorns and the Sioux Falls Skyforce, became one of the faces of the Heat after he signed a four-year contract extension last summer.
Whiteside has become one of the top centers in the league. A 2015-16 All-Defensive Second Team player, Whiteside was first in the NBA in rebounds per game in 2016-17, with 14.1, after having the most blocks per game the season prior.
Although his game is based around his defensive play, Whiteside has also been in the top 10 in the league in field goal percentage in each of the past two seasons, shooting over 50 percent each year (55.7% last year). In 2016-17, he started all 77 games he played, averaging a career-best 17 points per game.
Whiteside has already shown this preseason that he has been working on his long-range jump shot, as he took four shots outside of 12 feet in the Heat’s preseason matchup against the Nets. He went 3-for-4 on those attempts.
Whiteside is one of the young studs on a Heat team that is still looking for an identity after Dwyane Wade left a season ago. Along with fellow G League alum Tyler Johnson, and exciting players in Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic, Whiteside will look to lead the Heat back to the playoffs this year after just missing out on postseason play in 2016-17.
Clint Capela, Center, Houston Rockets
Capela is a part of one of the star-studded teams in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers alum, who will play in his fourth season with the Rockets this year, will now have a backcourt of Chris Paul and James Harden to deliver the ball to him. The addition of Paul to the Houston lineup will only benefit Capela, as Paul has made big men better throughout his career, including DeAndre Jordan in L.A. and David West in New Orleans. Capela will be eligible for a contract extension after this season, so it could become a very big year for the three-year player out of Switzerland.
Capela proved to be a force in the paint last season, finishing with a ninth-best 12.5 percent success rate on offensive rebounds, while pairing that with a third-best 64.3 % field goal percentage. Capela averaged 24 minutes per game last season, and said that he’s worked on his stamina this offseason as he looks to play closer to 28 minutes per game in 2017-18. Last season, Capela averaged 12.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and just over one block per game.
Jonathon Simmons, Shooting Guard, Orlando Magic
After playing in 78 games and averaging 6.2 points per game for the San Antonio Spurs last season, Jonathon Simmons signed a three-year deal with the Orlando Magic in free agency this past July. The former Austin Spurs guard will be relied on by the Magic this season as the teams sixth man, and possibly a starter at some points during the season.
During the Magic’s 99-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks this preseason, Simmons scored 19 points while adding four rebounds and an assist. As Simmons now moves on to a new team and new city, he will look to build on his game and become more efficient, which could propel him to a starting role in the future.
Seth Curry, Point Guard, Dallas Mavericks
Although injured right now, Seth Curry is said to possibly be ready to go when the Dallas Mavericks face the Golden State Warriors on October 23. He said that his injury, a stress fracture in his left tibia, came from all of the hard work put in to stay in basketball shape and get stronger over the course of the offseason.
Curry, who was inserted into the Mavericks starting lineup halfway through the 2016-17 season, averaged 12.8 points per game, along with 2.7 assists in 70 games. His injury will be an added challenge, but Curry will be looking to build off his second full season in the NBA. Curry’s brother Stephen has the highest 3-point field goal percentage among active players (43.8%), but Seth wasn’t much behind in 2016-17. Last year, Seth was sixth in the entire league, hitting 42.5% of his threes.
It will be interesting to see if this injury affects Curry, who will be looking to solidify another year as the starting point guard in Dallas.
TJ Warren, Small Forward, Phoenix Suns
TJ Warren, who played for the Bakersfield Jam in 2014 and 2015, will be working as a key piece for the Phoenix Suns after signing a four-year contract extension with the team this offseason. Warren started in 59 games last season for the Suns, averaging 14.4 points and 5.1 rebounds.
In the preseason, Warren was featured in the Suns’ starting rotation. The third-year player out of North Carolina State scored 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting, while adding six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals against the Trail Blazers on October 3.
Warren will get the opportunity to work with fellow G League alum Eric Bledsoe, along with highly-touted rookie Josh Jackson, as he and the Suns will look to improve from last year’s 24-win season.
Cory Joseph, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Indiana Pacers
Like Simmons, Cory Joseph will be playing with a new team this season. After spending the past two seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Joseph was traded to the Indiana Pacers this offseason. He will be a part of a team finding a new identity after the departure of Paul George and Jeff Teague, and the arrival of Victor OIadipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Joseph averaged a career-high 9.3 points per game (13.3 PPG per 36 minutes) last season in 80 games with the Raptors, and is looking to continue to grow as he battles with Darren Collison at point guard and Oladipo at shooting guard with the Pacers. Joseph, who is a willing passer as both a one and two-guard, increased his three-point shooting percentage by eight percent last season. His versatility will be key for a Pacers team looking for the right fits in their rotation.
Tyler Johnson, Shooting Guard/Point Guard Miami Heat
Tyler Johnson saw his production jump last year in his third season with the Miami Heat. In 73 games, he averaged 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Johnson, who is in the second year of his four year contract with the Heat, will be trying to crack the starting lineup this year after starting zero games in 2016-17.
Dewayne Dedmon, Center, Atlanta Hawks
Dewayne Dedmon has also moved teams, after he signed a two-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks back in July. The fifth-year player out of USC will be looking to fill in on a team that lost Dwight Howard to Charlotte in free agency.
Dedmon, who will start at center for the Hawks this season, has already shown flashes of brilliance during the preseason. During the Hawks first game of the preseason, Dedmon scored 13 points in 20 minutes. Throughout Atlanta’s preseason, he has been a presence on the glass and paint on both sides of the ball as well as a force in the pick-and-roll on the offensive side. Dedmon will look to become a reliable option for the Hawks, as he tries to pair offense with his already polished defensive game.
Yogi Ferrell, Point Guard, Dallas Mavericks
With the injury to Curry in the preseason, Yogi Ferrell may get a chance to make his name known with the Dallas Mavericks. After a tough start to the year in Brooklyn, Ferrell played in 36 games after coming over to Dallas and averaged 11.3 points per game in his part of the 2016-17 season with the Mavericks. The second-year guard and Long Island Nets alum posted a strong presason, averaging 10.2 points, 1.7 three-pointers made and 3.0 assists per game.
Being a player in the final year of his first NBA contract, Ferrell will have plenty opportunities to prove his worth to the Mavericks and the NBA, coming off the bench and filling in for Curry while he is sidelined with a leg injury.
Derrick Jones Jr., Small Forward, Phoenix Suns
Derrick Jones Jr. is entering his second season with the Phoenix Suns in 2017-18. Jones has come under the radar as Josh Jackson and TJ Warren received all of the offseason attention in Phoenix. But his teammates named him the team’s most improved player over the offseason, and he hopes that’s true as he pressures for a spot in the lineup this season. The Northern Arizona Suns alum averaged 5.3 points per game in 32 games, and saw eight starts. He will look to help a Phoenix team that has brought along some new faces for the 2016-17 season.