With the NBA G League postseason set to tip off, a plethora of talented prospects — from those fighting for an NBA Call-Up to Two-Way Players and NBA assignees — are all gearing up, ready to don their uniform and make a run toward some very memorable moments in the games that follow.
Here’s a look at 10 performers to keep an eye on as competition gets underway in the Eastern Conference.
Alan Williams (Nets, Two-Way Player): The fact that Williams finished the regular season as the second-leading rebounder with 12.9 per game should come as no surprise. Whereas some analysts say certain players are “walking buckets,” this big man should be considered a walking rebound. Through time with the Suns and Nets up at the NBA level, Williams quickly became known for crashing the glass at an efficient rate. His ability to dominate the boards can change the momentum of a game. While helping Long Island clinch the best record in the East, however, he took his offensive game to a new level. Williams uses that same aforementioned physicality to force his way inside and earn high percentage looks around the basket. He heads into the postseason having averaged 20 points and 16 boards in his final three games.
Jordan Loyd (Raptors, Two-Way Player): Loyd heads into the playoffs on the heels of a very interesting campaign. Early on, Loyd served as a perfect complementary piece to NBA G League MVP candidate Chris Boucher, who was dominating as part of a Two-Way contract before earning a standard deal with Toronto. With an explosive running mate in Boucher, Loyd effectively pushed the pace, got up the floor with gusto, and made sure he was ready to throw the big man a never-ending amount of lobs around the rim. The guard proved he could pass and crash the boards when playing off the ball. Since Boucher’s promotion, Loyd has experienced quite the metamorphosis as a skillful scorer in his own right. Showing no signs of slowing down his other efforts, Loyd is often a triple-double threat. In his last three games, he tallied 19.3 points, 6.7 assists, and and 6.7 boards per contest.
Troy Caupain (Magic, Two-Way Player): Caupain and the Magic head into the postseason having won their final four games of the regular season. He sees the floor well and keeps his eyes peeled for teammates streaking to the hoop. Caupain can find those around him in the right spots, but will also take advantage of the open lane himself when he catches the defense sleeping. A consummate orchestrator, he averaged 17.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Chris Boucher (Raptors, NBA Assignee): After taking the minor league by storm in the early parts of the campaign, Boucher’s prowess on both ends of the floor caught the attention of the Raptors so much so that the organization converted his Two-Way contract into a standard pact at the next level. Such a promotion was well deserved, as Boucher quickly emerged as one of the NBA G League’s top dogs in both points and blocks per game. Rising up as a rather versatile talent, the big man became known as somewhat of a unicorn as the type of big man who could use his lengthy physical frame to impact shots at the rim, while also spreading the floor on offense by knocking down long-range shots. He’s returned to the Raptors 905 on occasion via assignment, so it’ll be interesting to see if the team calls upon his services yet again.
Dzanan Musa (Nets, NBA Assignee): Whereas Williams often serves as Long Island’s rock, Musa has stepped in as quite the X-Factor on many occasions this season for the number one seed in the East. An NBA assignee from Brooklyn, he averaged 19.5 points and 6.4 rebounds through 36 games over the course of the campaign. At 6’9″ and 195 pounds, he matches up with opposing minor league big men, but can catch defenders off guard with some fancy footwork around the basket. His talent certainly provides this team a boost, but it’s also worth noting that playing such a central role here could go a long way towards preparing Musa for meaningful NBA minutes when Brooklyn is in need.
Jameel Warney (Westchester Knicks): A mid-season acquisition by Westchester, Warney has played such an important purpose in the wake of an NBA call-up to John Jenkins. Under the bright lights of the Big Apple, Warney has become quite a leading man for the Knicks. A bruising big man who has recently been able to expand his offensive efforts with a budding perimeter game, Warney has put in extra time in becoming someone who can help spread the floor, as well as take advantage of good looks down low. He’s averaged 22.9 points and 11.7 rebounds in March.
Marcus Thornton (Grand Rapids Drive): A former 18+ point average scorer up at the NBA level, Thornton’s ability to pour in the points — paired with his veteran know-how and leadership — helps him fill a key role for the central-division clinching Drive. He was among the top ten leading-scorers in points per game, scored 37 points or more on three separate occasions, and won the league’s Player of the Week award midway through the year. As someone who’s been around the block, the 31-year-old is dedicated to providing ample support for his promising prospect teammates. At the same time, he can turn up the heat and take over any given contest if necessary.
Kalin Lucas (Pistons, Two-Way Player): Speaking of Player of the Week award winners, Pistons Two-Way Lucas put an exclamation point on his campaign by winning the season’s final weekly honor. He appears to be hitting his season’s stride at the most opportune of times with a formidable playoff run at stake for Grand Rapids. The final week of the regular season was highlighted by three 30+ point performances by Lucas. Like Thornton, he too was a top 10 scoring leader in the league. On a talented Drive squad, this guard is used to playing varying roles, from a commanding floor general or an offensive spark plug off the bench.
JaKarr Sampson (Windy City Bulls): Sampson is an explosive force around the rim and uses his physicality to back down defenders and cash in on some formidable eye-popping slam-dunks. A human highlight reel of sorts, Sampson plays like he’s been shot out of a canon, roaring and soaring en route to scoring in bunches and pulling down the boards. As someone who has only gotten better as the season has gone on, the forward averaged 21.1 points and 9.1 rebounds on the year.
Billy Garrett: (Westchester Knicks): Another former Player of the Week award winner, Garrett has been shooting the lights out in recent games, averaging 23.3 points in March. He’s the kind of player who remains humble and embraces his role, regardless of whatever Westchester may envision that being. On some nights, the part he plays is that of an unselfish floor general who penetrates the lane and dishes out the rock to open teammates as soon as the defense comes swarming his way. Most recently, the team’s offense has run through him and he’s been able to pick his spots, getting to the hole and fading back for off balance jumpers that he sinks with ease.