With the 2019 MGM Resorts 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 increased playing time or a full-time NBA role (a la NBA G League MVP and DPOY-turned-NBA champion Chris Boucher). 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 who are looking to break into the NBA for the first time (this year’s rising NBA stud Kendrick Nunn — via the Santa Cruz Warriors — comes to mind), and this four-day stretch could be the key to getting noticed.
With that said, here’s a look at some of the top players to watch during the Winter Showcase.
Gary Payton II, South Bay Lakers
As the NBA G League’s most recent Player of the Week heading into the Winter Showcase, Payton II has been on quite a roll lately. As of December 17, he’s riding a streak of four-straight points/assists double-double games, while also grabbing at least 7 rebounds in each of those contests. A proven winner following last season’s championship victory with the RGV Vipers, the guard has continued to flourish this season by demonstrating his physicality and ability to push the pace for South Bay. Payton II is 27 years old, very much still in his athletic prime with the added maturity to make good decisions on the basketball court. He’s averaging 21.5 points and leading the league with 3.2 steals per game.
Josh Gray (Two-Way Player), Erie BayHawks
Gray has struggled to find his shooting stroke as of late, so he’ll look to reclaim some of that scoring magic he possessed earlier in the season. Still, this young gun boasts six games of 31 points or more to his credit on the campaign. He’s someone who can heat up in a hurry and coincidentally enough, still manages to find other ways to contribute even if his shot isn’t falling. The 26 year old has five double-doubles this season and is averaging 8 assists and 2.8 steals to go with a staggering 28.9 point per game average.
Donta Hall, Grand Rapids Drive
If there was ever a human highlight reel to keep an eye on, Hall has used this season to make his very convincing case. His ferocious slams continue to garner attention and accolades, including a No.1 nod on SportsCenter’s Top 10 on December 9. With averages of 13.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game, even the numbers may not entirely do the big man justice. He’s shooting 68% from the field, proving that his hunger to crash the glass and fight for boards and loose balls with abandon often results in higher percentage opportunities.
Tremont Waters (Two-Way Player), Maine Red Claws
The NBA G League’s first Player of the Month this season, it’s safe to say Waters had a very strong start to the campaign. His November was something to marvel at as he helped the Red Claws begin on the right foot with a 5-0 record. Averaging 19.8 points and 7.5 assists per game now on the year, this floor general is typically someone who has a great read on the defense. He can interpret and control the pace of a contest, knowing full when to drive the lane and fall back to let the long balls fly from deep.
Rayjon Tucker, Wisconsin Herd
Another springy athletic specimen, Tucker’s budding body of work in the NBA G League is helping him demonstrate exactly why he’s much more than your everyday high-flyer. Arguably riding the steadiest hot streak out of any other player heading into the Winter Showcase, the swingman has scored at least 35 points in each of his last three games. Averaging 23.1 points on the year, perhaps the most impressive thing of all is that Tucker’s contributions have sparked a 13-2 start for the Herd — good for the best record in the East. Still just 22 years old, his success toward helping foster a winning environment is quite special.
Josh Jackson (NBA Assignee), Memphis Hustle
As a former NBA lottery pick who may have lost his footing at one point, Jackson is clearly going through somewhat of a resurgence while representing the Hustle as a big league assignee. Memphis stands atop of the minor league mountain with a 14-1 record and Jackson’s prowess is a big reason why. He’s flexed his versatile muscles, averaging 22.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Jackson’s flirted with a triple-double more than a few times this season and above all else, continues to ooze out endless effort on both ends of the floor through every victory.
Kyle Guy (Two-Way Player), Stockton Kings
As he prepares to take the Winter Showcase stage, Guy is no stranger to bright lights or high-pressure situations. He led Virginia to the NCAA title last season and has already carried over some of that winning success over to the pro level, thus far leading the Kings to a 10-5 record. Much like Gray, Guy seemingly hit his stride earlier in the season but his ability to pour in the points still remains. He’s averaging 24.2 points on the campaign and hitting the hardwood in Las Vegas could be his perfect chance to truly heat things back up.
Marial Shayok (Two-Way Player), Delaware Blue Coats
The NBA G League’s first Player of the Week this season, Shayok is also the second-leading scorer in the league at 24.7 points per game. He boasts a 46/35/90 shooting clip and has led the Blue Coats to a strong 10-4 start. At 6’5″ and 198 pounds, this swingman seemingly has the perfect combination of speed and strength and finds his way to the rack with relative ease. He’s a strong competitor who can finds many ways to score and his team is reaping the benefits.
Justin Anderson, Raptors 905
A well-known and respected NBA veteran of four seasons, Anderson is biding his time before he receives another chance at the next level. He’s used his chance in the NBA G League to take on more of a leadership role with the Raptors 905 and share the wealth of his experience with other up-and-coming talents. Anderson is a familiar commodity who could undoubtedly help any number of teams in a pinch, as evidenced by his 21.2 point per game average this season. His highlight of the campaign was scoring 40 points in front of Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on December 6.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) December 5, 2019
Brandon Goodwin (Two-Way Player), College Park Skyhawks
Goodwin has served as quite the leading man in College Park this season. Averaging 19.7 points on 45% from the field and 40% from deep to go with 7.9 assists and 1.8 steals, this fiery offensive spark makes things by keeping the tempo up, finding teammates in transition, and sinking balls from long range. Following a 36 point, 16 assist, 12 rebound effort in a big Skyhawks win on December 13, it would appear as though the best is yet to come for this floor general.
**This article was updated December 19, 2019.**