With the 2018 NBA G League Winter Showcase upon us (Dec. 19-22 in Las Vegas), now is the perfect time for the league’s top talents to shine.
For players on Two-Way Contracts, it’s an opportunity to prove to their NBA team they can be relied upon with sufficient playing time. Alongside Two-Way Players are past NBA veterans hoping to show that they have plenty more in the tank, if a big league team comes calling again. Their past experience could pay dividends right away because teams have an idea of what to expect. Of course, there’s also the league’s top prospects looking to break into the NBA for the first time, and this four-day stretch could be the key to getting noticed.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a mix of top players to watch during the Winter Showcase.
Yante Maten (Two-Way Player), Sioux Falls Skyforce: As a prime M.V.P. candidate this season, Maten will be among the best on display in Las Vegas this week. He’s been a dominant offensive player all season long, able to pour in points in a number of different ways. He has range from the perimeter, can put the ball on the floor, and can also finish inside. He’s also a physical rebounder, with eight 30+-point, 10-rebound games to his credit this season. Maten’s 27 points per game are currently third in the league.
John Jenkins, Westchester Knicks: Jenkins’ 27.3 points per game are second best in the NBA G League behind Raptors 905’s Chris Boucher. The scoring average lead will be well within his grasp as he heads to battle at the Winter Showcase. At 14-5, the Knicks have the best record in the Eastern Conference, led in large part by Jenkins. He boasts a 51/47/96 shooting clip this season, signaling him as one of the most efficient offensive players. As a veteran of five NBA seasons, this experienced individual is hungry to get back and now is the perfect time to shine.
Jordan Loyd (Two-Way Player), Raptors 905: Even while playing alongside Boucher, Loyd has found ways to stand out this season. Teaming up with such a dominant offensive force in the paint has allowed to Loyd to display his versatility: he remained active, running the the floor and rebounding the ball. With averages of 22.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, he’s constantly a threat to keep the defense on its toes and will now take center stage as a headlining attraction for the 905.
Walter Lemon Jr., Windy City Bulls: Lemon Jr. is an NBA G League veteran who spent the beginning of this season as a Two-Way Player with the Maine Red Claws. Since being released, he’s now eligible to be called up by any NBA team. Lemon Jr. has recently assumed starting point guard duties for Windy City, meaning he’s been given the green light again to push the pace and strut his stuff right in time for an ideal audition. He holds averages of 21.1 points and 6.2 assists thus far, so it’ll be interesting to see how he continues adjusting to a new squad.
Johnathan Motley (Two-Way Player), Agua Caliente Clippers: Motley has already been named NBA G League Player of the Week twice this season, putting his physical prowess on display all along. He’s averaged 26.4 points and 11 rebounds, backing defenders down and using his fancy footwork to capitalize on easy looks inside. The big man makes his home along the interior and he’s among the best at what he does.
Terrence Jones, Erie BayHawks: An NBA veteran of five campaigns, Jones has made his home in Erie this season as he craves a shot to see big league action again. He’s been a consistent 20-point, 10-rebound threat, which is something to be expected from someone who was known to pour in double-figures at the next level. As the veteran hopes for another look, he’s also made improvements to his overall game, shooting 40% from deep and dishing out 4.9 assists. That’s pretty impressive for a 6’9″ big man.
PJ Dozier (Two-Way Player), Maine Red Claws: After spending last season as a Two-Way Player for the OKC Blue, Dozier has continued to make strides. In year two, he’s taken the next step to show he can be relied upon as much more than simply a defensive specialist. He’s averaging 21 points (up from 12.9 last season) to go along with 6.3 assists (up from 2.7). The improvements don’t stop there, as his numbers have increased across the board, including rebounding, steals, and field goal percentage. Dozier’s time with the Celtics has clearly aided his maturity to help him become a confident and capable player on both ends of the floor, and Maine is a steadier squad with him leading the way.
Willie Reed, Salt Lake City Stars: At 28 years old, Reed is a proven commodity with ample NBA experience to his credit. He’s a reliable rebounder who can protect the paint and keep the defense guessing by staying actively involved in the pick and roll. As a member of the Stars, he’s taken on a veteran role and serves as a leading man for an up-and-coming, young team. Playing good defense may be his calling card, but Reed’s 20.6 points on an eye-popping 67% shooting from the field is proof that he’s doing all he can to hold his own on both ends and cement himself as an offensive weapon, too.
Alan Williams (Two-Way Player), Long Island Nets: Williams currently stands tall as the leading rebounder in the NBA G League with 13.9 boards per contest. His ability to clean up the glass has paid dividends for Long Island, who boast a very respectable 11-5 record thus far. Much like Reed, what you see is what you get. He’s going to position himself inside, keep possessions alive, and capitalize on second chance opportunities.
Briante Weber, Sioux Falls Skyforce: With so many offensive stars already gracing the NBA hardwood, standing out at the minor league level often comes down to how one can cover all the bases and do the little things. Luckily for Weber, this is where he thrives. His 3.5 steals currently lead the league, making him an absolute bloodhound against opposing floor generals. This point guard is about as unselfish as they come, dropping dimes and staying active on the boards. He creates scoring opportunities for those around him more than he does for himself, making him the consummate teammate.