Last December, Lonnie Walker IV took the court at the MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase alongside many 2018 NBA Draft picks who were all hoping to get a little extra pro seasoning. He emerged as a strong performer from the week in Las Vegas, and such experience has undoubtedly aided his progression at the next level. Just one calendar year later, and he’s slid nicely into a rotation role with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 11.5 points in December.
Walker IV’s not the only youngster who prepared for his big moment at the next level by hitting the hardwood at the Winter Showcase. One could suggest that the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for November, Kendrick Nunn, first began to garner key NBA attention by averaging 16.5 points per game at the event for the Santa Cruz Warriors. Clearly, much of that success has ended up translating in The Association.
These two young guns merely highlight some of the later examples of Showcase success. The likes of Hassan Whiteside (2013) and Quinn Cook (2017) have been among those to eventually realize their own dreams. For Rudy Gobert, the goal was a bit different when he appeared at the event back in 2014. While he was already a member of the Utah Jazz, playing out a minor league assignment at the Showcase provided him with the opportunity to receive valuable real-time game experience as a young player. Since then, the big man has become a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
The list goes on, as many players have emerged victorious following time at the NBA G League Winter Showcase. As this year’s annual event arrives, here are the answers to five pressing questions.
What is the MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase?
The MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase is the NBA G League’s annual in-season scouting event, when all the teams in the league travel to one city and play in front of NBA general managers and player personnel executives from all 30 NBA organizations. The 2019 event will mark the 16th Showcase, featuring 28 games over four days.
When and where is the NBA G League Winter Showcase?
For the second-straight season, the annual scouting event will take place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada from December 19-22. A full game schedule can be found below.
|1||Thu.||12/19/19||Maine #7||Canton #6||1||12:00 PM||3:00 PM|
|2||Thu.||12/19/19||Stockton #8||Delaware #5||2||12:30 PM||3:30 PM|
|3||Thu.||12/19/19||South Bay #11||Lakeland #10||1||2:30 PM||5:30 PM|
|4||Thu.||12/19/19||Windy City #12||Texas #9||2||3:30 PM||6:30 PM|
|5||Thu.||12/19/19||Capital City #16||Iowa #13*||1||5:00 PM||8:00 PM|
|6||Thu.||12/19/19||Austin #15||College Park #14*||2||6:00 PM||9:00 PM|
|7||Thu.||12/19/19||Sioux Falls #19||Agua Caliente #18||1||7:30 PM||10:30 PM|
|8||Fri.||12/20/19||Raptors 905 #20||Santa Cruz #17||1||12:00 PM||3:00 PM|
|9||Fri.||12/20/19||Erie #24||Oklahoma City #21*||2||12:30 PM||3:30 PM|
|10||Fri.||12/20/19||Westchester #23||Greensboro #22*||1||2:30 PM||5:30 PM|
|11||Fri.||12/20/19||Rio Grande Valley #27||Long Island #26||2||3:30 PM||6:30 PM|
|12||Fri.||12/20/19||Northern Arizona #28||Fort Wayne #25||1||5:00 PM||8:00 PM|
|13||Fri.||12/20/19||Salt Lake City #3||Wisconsin #2||2||6:00 PM||9:00 PM|
|14||Fri.||12/20/19||Grand Rapids #4||Memphis #1||1||7:30 PM||10:30 PM|
|15||Sat.||12/21/19||WCB/TEX (L)||SBL/LAK (L)||1||12:00 PM||3:00 PM|
|16||Sat.||12/21/19||STO/DEL (L)||MNE/CTN (L)||2||12:30 PM||3:30 PM|
|17||Sat.||12/21/19||WCB/TEX (W)||SBL/LAK (W)||1||2:30 PM||5:30 PM|
|18||Sat.||12/21/19||STO/DEL (W)||MNE/CTN (W)||2||3:30 PM||6:30 PM|
|19||Sat.||12/21/19||CCG/IWA (W)||AUS/CPS (W)||1||5:00 PM||8:00 PM|
|20||Sat.||12/21/19||CCG/IWA (L)||AUS/CPS (L)||2||6:00 PM||9:00 PM|
|21||Sat.||12/21/19||RGV/LIN (L)||NAS/FWN (L)||1||7:30 PM||10:30 PM|
|22||Sun.||12/22/19||SXF/ACC (L)||RAP/SCW (L)||1||11:00 AM||2:00 PM|
|23||Sun.||12/22/19||SXF/ACC (W)||RAP/SCW (W)||2||12:30 PM||3:30 PM|
|24||Sun.||12/22/19||ERI/OKL (W)||WES/GBO (W)||1||1:30 PM||4:30 PM|
|25||Sun.||12/22/19||ERI/OKL (L)||WES/GBO (L)||2||3:30 PM||6:30 PM|
|26||Sun.||12/22/19||SLC/WIS (W)||GRD/MHU (W)||1||4:00 PM||7:00 PM|
|27||Sun.||12/22/19||SLC/WIS (L)||GRD/MHU (L)||2||6:00 PM||9:00 PM|
|28||Sun.||12/22/19||RGV/LIN (W)||NAS/FWN (W)||1||6:30 PM||9:30 PM|
|*Final seed adjusted to avoid intra-divisional game|
|COURT 1||COURT 2|
What is at stake for NBA G League prospects?
The convenient timing of this event grants NBA team personnel the opportunity to evaluate Two-Way and NBA G League talent in advance of the 10-day signing period and Two-Way guarantee deadline. The NBA G League has become a springboard for players hoping to reach the next level, with an all-time high 42% of NBA players boasting minor league experience prior to the start of the season. The Showcase often serves as the grandest of stages over the course of the season, with more than 60 players earning GATORADE Call-Ups during or immediately following the last 15 events. Last season, the likes of Brandon Sampson (Chicago Bulls) and Donte Grantham (Oklahoma City Thunder) reaped immediate benefits of promotions following their time in Las Vegas.
This year’s event will introduce a tournament format and a $100,000 prize for players on the winning team. Under the new tournament format, teams will be ranked 1-28 based on their records through the first 12 regular season games of the season. The top four ranked teams will be placed into the Championship Bracket while the remaining 24 teams will be placed into six four-team brackets. All games at the Winter Showcase will continue to count toward regular season records.
Who has performed at the NBA G League Winter Showcase before?
2018 NBA Draft picks Grayson Allen and Donte DiVincenzo joined fellow draftee Walker IV and Kendrick Nunn, this year’s NBA G League alum Cinderella story, in competing in Las Vegas last year.
Following the conclusion of the Winter Showcase, there were 46 additional NBA Call-Ups the rest of the way. Such interest in each of the players who earned a promotion began as NBA personnel first got their eyes on potential fits at this annual event. Among those athletes was Bruno Caboclo, who signed with the Grizzlies and averaged 8.3 points and 4.6 rebounds through 34 games (19 starts) last season and still remains with the team today. He isn’t the only NBA G League prospect turned well-known big league commodity to appear at the Winter Showcase. See below for more flashbacks.
Who will follow in their footsteps?
From the likes of Walker IV and Nunn, to previous cases such as Terry Rozier, Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gobert, many household names in the NBA began to lay the groundwork for a prosperous big league career by hitting the hardwood at the NBA G League Winter Showcase. For a look at who may be on the cusp of realizing their dreams sooner than later, read over our 10 PLAYERS TO WATCH list.