While we’re currently in a hoops hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA G League season has had no dearth of incredible come-up stories and breakout seasons for a multitude of players. This article will highlight four athletes who took the next step in their professional careers and made tremendous strides in both their statistics and basketball acumen.
In order to narrow down the list, the players below had to meet these two requirements.
- Spend at least one full season in the NBA G League coming into the 2019-20 season
- Enter the 2019-20 season on a standard NBA G League contract
Mulder entered the NBA G League in the 2017-18 season, after he averaged a pedestrian 4.7 points per game during his senior season at University of Kentucky with the Wildcats. He started his professional career with the Windy City Bulls, posting 9.3 PPG & 4.5 RPG on 32.8% shooting from beyond the arc. His rookie campaign was intriguing, but Mulder was yet to show the promising athleticism and consistent sharpshooting that has turned him into the player he is today. Mulder also spent his sophomore NBA G League season with Windy City, improving his average to a then career-high 13.7 PPG.
After two solid seasons in the NBA G League, many players would start to consider their options overseas where a more lucrative contract may exist. Instead, Mulder bet on himself and entered a new landscape in his third season. After being cut by the Miami Heat during training camp, Mulder started his 2019-20 campaign in Sioux Falls with the Heat’s G League affiliate-Skyforce. From the get-go, he showed the offensive tenacity that had been previously missing from his game on a consistent basis, skyrocketing his averages to a career-high 17 PPG, 4.5 RPG & 1.7 APG on 39.9% shooting from beyond the arc. Mulder became more than just a catch-and-shoot type of player, showcasing his ability to score off the dribble and in transition with the Skyforce.
His improvement and belief in his ability to transform himself into a more complete player paid off, as he earned an NBA Call-Up to the Golden State Warriors on February 27. Mulder started his NBA career on a 10-Day Contract with the Warriors. In his first 10 days in the NBA, the guard averaged an impressive 12.3 PPG & 3.2 RPG on 35.6% shooting from 3-point range, impressing Warriors fans and front office members. On March 10, Mulder signed a multi-year contract with Golden State, cementing his place in The Association after a 2.5-year grind in the NBA G League.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) March 8, 2020
Paul Watson’s journey to The Association is another story of a player betting on themselves to make the necessary jump to the next level in their 3rd NBA G League season. Watson played college hoops at Fresno State, where he was named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2014 and would go on to play three more seasons with the Bulldogs. Undrafted in the NBA, Watson started his NBA G League career in 2017 upon being selected by the Westchester Knicks as the fifth overall pick, after a brief stint with BG Gottingen.
Despite appearing in 45 games and playing almost 27 minutes per contest, Watson only averaged 6.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG & 1 APG on 42.7% shooting from the field and 36.9% shooting from beyond the arc. His rookie campaign wasn’t terrible by any means, but it certainly wasn’t turning any heads. During his second year with Westchester during the 2018-19 season, Watson slightly improved his averages to a then career-high 8.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG & 1.1 APG on 43.8% shooting from the field, but shot 2.4% worse from 3-point range on 1.6 more attempts per game than his rookie season.
Like Mulder, Watson was presented a change of scenery for his 3rd NBA G League season. His rights were traded to Raptors 905 before the 2019-20 season, giving him a chance to re-brand himself with a new supporting cast and coaching staff. Watson’s trip north of the border to Mississauga would do wonders for his career. The G League veteran became a more assertive player on offense, willing to get to the cup at all costs, while simultaneously making leaps and bounds as a sharpshooter. Watson catapulted his averages to new heights this season, producing career-highs across the board. In 30 games this season with the 905, Watson is averaging 19 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.8 APG & 1.1 SPG on an eye-popping 42.5% shooting from downtown.
Throughout the course of his 2019-20 campaign, Watson has received two NBA Call-Ups from two different organizations. On January 6, Watson was called-up by the Atlanta Hawks on a 10-Day Contract, where he would make his NBA debut two days later on January 8. After finishing his 10-Day Contract with the Hawks, the Toronto Raptors organization (who had tremendous success developing Watson with their NBA G League-affiliate Raptors 905) signed him to a Two-Way Contract for the remainder of the season. Watson scored his first NBA point on February 2 in a win with the Toronto Raptors over the Chicago Bulls. On February 10, he was named to the All-NBA G League Midseason Team and was one of 24 players honored by the NBA G League for their achievements in the first half of the season.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) March 10, 2020
In the NBA, steady and consistent 3-point shooting is valued more than ever before. This season, Gabe Vincent proved in the NBA G League that he was as valuable a sharpshooting commodity as anyone else available. He started his career in the G League with the Stockton Kings during the 2018-19 season after a 4-year career at UCSB. The former Gaucho averaged 12.4 PPG & 3.3 APG during his senior season at UC-Santa Barbara and finished 7th in the Big West in 3PM and 16th in PPG. Vincent went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft and would sign an Exhibit 10 Contract with the Sacramento Kings before being waived by the team and signing with the Stockton Kings for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
Vincent posted 8.8 PPG & 2.6 APG in his rookie campaign with Stockton but failed to hit shots from any range at a consistent clip. He only made 29.1% of his 3-pointers during the 18-19 season on 4.3 attempts per game and sunk 37.8% of his overall shots from the field on 8.7 attempts per game. Vincent’s first season in the NBA G League could’ve been very easy for him to forget; instead, he relentlessly worked on his shot and overall offensive skill-set during his first professional offseason and vowed to make a name for himself during his sophomore campaign.
Vincent came into the 2019-20 season a changed man, with added weight on his previously more slender frame and a lightning-quick release on his jump shot. In his first 20 games of the season with the Stockton Kings, Vincent posted an exceptional 23.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.5 APG & 1.3 SPG on 46.9% shooting from the field and 42.1% shooting from beyond the arc. His marked improvement in all facets of the game was enough to catch the eye of the Miami Heat’s front office. On January 8, the Heat organization signed Vincent to a Two-Way Contract for the remainder of the season. The former Stockton King made his NBA debut on January 27 and scored his first NBA points on February 5. Vincent knocked down three 3-pointers that night for the Heat, also adding 1 steal, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
While on a Two-Way Contract with Miami, Vincent has also spent time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. During his tenure with the Heat’s G League affiliate, he has averaged 16.4 PPG on 36.9% shooting from beyond the arc. Vincent’s success with both the Stockton Kings and the Sioux Falls Skyforce this season earned him a spot on the All-NBA G League Midseason Team.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 6, 2020
Levi Randolph has paid his dues in the NBA G League and succeeded on the hardwood all across the globe. Randolph played his college hoops at Alabama, where he spent four seasons, earning All-SEC 2nd Team honors in 2015 after finishing 3rd in the conference that season in true shooting percentage. The former Crimson Tide guard went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, but would sign with the Boston Celtics as an undrafted free agent. He was waived during the preseason and would spend his first professional season with the Maine Red Claws. Randolph had a decent rookie campaign, posting 14.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG & 2.6 APG with the Red Claws during the 2015-16 NBA G League season on 52.1% shooting from the field and 39.6% shooting from beyond the arc. After one season with the Red Claws, Randolph opted to go overseas, spending time in Italy with Sidigas Avellino & Dinamo Sassari, and then in France with SIG Strasbourg.
He returned to the United States for the 2018-19 NBA G League season, joining the Canton Charge. His averages slightly dipped from his first year in the NBA G League, averaging 14.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG & 2.1 APG. He competed in all 50 games with the Charge that season, playing just under 32 minutes per contest.
Rather than returning back overseas, Randolph, like the other players in this series, decided to bet on himself and stay in the NBA G League for another season. He returned to the Charge for his second campaign with the team and posted career-highs in PPG (16.9), RPG (5.3) & APG (3.4), while shooting 48.6% from the field and 34.3% from 3-point range. On January 6, Randolph’s hard work and perseverance paid off as he signed a Two-Way Contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had spent almost two seasons grooming him for a role in The Association.
Along with his NBA Call-Up, Randolph checked off another item on his bucket list. He was named to the 2020 February AmeriCup Qualifying Team with USA Basketball, where he represented his country on the court in both Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Randolph helped lead the team to a perfect 2-0 record, averaging 4.5 PPG, 2.5 APG & 2 RPG for Team USA on 50% shooting from beyond the arc.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 22, 2020
Randolph’s time in the NBA G League has been paramount to his team’s success. Before the season was suspended, Randolph had led the Charge to a 29-14 record, which stood as the 2nd-best in the Eastern Conference and the 3rd-best in the entire NBA G League. While Randolph is back on a standard NBA G League contract with Canton now after being waived from his Two-Way Contract, front offices have continued to take notice of his ability on both ends of the floor. A 2nd NBA Call-Up could come easily at any time for the budding offensive star out of Madison, Alabama.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 9, 2020