The 2021 AT&T Winter Showcase is here. Eight teams head to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center from Dec. 19-22. The single-elimination tournament schedule has been set (check it out here). Before we get started, read all about the squads that will compete for the Showcase Cup Championship trophy!
#1 Seed: Delaware Blue Coats
It’d be easy to say that Delaware has been propelled by Paul Reed, the league’s reigning MVP and Rookie of the Year. After all, the 2020 second-round pick put together another solid run during the Showcase Cup, averaging 19.6 PTS, 11.6 REB, 2.1 BLK, and 1.7 STL across 29.8 minutes per game in his seven played.
It’d be a disservice to the rest of this squad if you stopped there.
The Blue Coats’ game starts on the defensive side of the ball, as they ranked first in steals per game (14.2), second in defensive rating (97.6), and sixth in opposing second chance points allowed per game (12.9). Shaquille Harrison is second in the G League in steals per game (2.9) and is tied with Reed in points per game as well, dropping a cool 19.6 a night. In the team’s nine-game winning streak, they’ve held opponents to an average of 100.6 PTS. Their defensive prowess bodes well for a team that has nine players that averaged 10+ points but only had one that shot better than 37.1% from deep (Haywood Highsmith at 44.4%). The team might not shoot the lights out of the gym, but they’ll make you work for your shots outside and apply pressure on the ball at all times, creating easy buckets on the offensive side of the ball.
Paul Reed: 19.6 PTS, 11.6 REB, 3.1 AST, 2.1 BLK, 1.7 STL (7 games)
Shaquille Harrison: 19.6 PTS, 7.0 REB, 5.7 AST, 2.9 STL (7 games)
Charlie Brown Jr.: 16.8 PTS, 8.0 REB, 1.7 STL (10 games)
Jaden Springer: 15.0 PTS, 4.0 REB, 2.7 AST, 2.1 STL (9 games)
#2 Seed: Maine Celtics
No team shot the ball better from deep than the Maine Celtics, who knocked down 40.6% of their three’s and hit an average of 16.3 per game. Not only did they shoot the three efficiently, but they also shared the rock without hesitancy, with a league-leading 67.6% of their field goals made coming off of assists. There’s always a downside to being a team that shoots a ton of threes, though, as the Celtics had an outstanding 43% of their points scored from downtown. That will be something to definitely watch during the AT&T Winter Showcase.
As heavily noted above, Maine can score a ton of points. That being said, it’s no surprise that eight players that played at least half of the teams’ games averaged 11+ points per game. Brodric Thomas has put together another stellar campaign for himself. The Boston Celtics’ two-way player is averaging a team-high 19.3 PTS while shooting 54% from the field. Not only that, he’s ninth in the league in steals per game (2.1). Maine is last in the league in points coming from two-point field goals (51.4%).
Brodric Thomas: 19.3 PTS, 54.0 FG%, 5.1 REB, 2.1 STL (7 games)
Sam Hauser: 16.9 PTS, 3.9 3PM/G, 91.7 FT% (10 games)
Jaysean Paige: 14.8 PTS, 48.2 FG% (12 games)
Ryan Arcidiacono: 12.7 PTS, 49.1 FG%, 8.2 AST, 5.8 REB (6 games)
#3 Seed: Rio Grande Valley Vipers
The season story for Rio Grande Valley has been rocky. It began 8-0, as Mahmoud Abdelfattah was named November’s Coach of the Month. Since then, the Vipers finished 1-3 in their last four games. Despite this, one thing is certain: this team can flat-out score. Even during their rough finish to the Showcase Cup, the team put up 114.8 points per game.
The Vipers have a ton of scoring talent between both players that have played a majority of their games with the team and those that have had quick stints with them, like rookie Josh Christopher and two-way player Garrison Mathews (who has reportedly signed a four-year contract with the Houston Rockets). Christopher (3 games) and Trevelin Queen (10 games), who just signed a two-way contract with the Rockets, both dropped 22.0 points per game. Mathews went for 19.5 per game in his two played. One of the teams’ biggest developments has been the breakout performance of 19-year-old Daishen Nix, who spent last year with NBA G League Ignite during the program’s debut season. Nix has gone out and scored an average of 16.5 points nightly while dishing out 5.1 assists, grabbing 4.9 rebounds, and poking away 2.3 steals per game.
The biggest challenge for Rio Grande Valley will be finding the balance between scoring efficiently offensively and letting up buckets on the defensive side of the ball, which – as noted above – was a struggle for the team during the Showcase Cup. Opponents are shooting 39.1% from deep and 46.7% from the field, both bottom-three defensive rankings in the league. It’s also a mystery who the team will have consistently on the floor with multiple players signing new deals with the Rockets.
Trevelin Queen: 22.0 PTS, 2.6 3PM/G, 6.6 REB, 2.8 STL (leads league, 10 games)
Mfiondu Kabengele: 17.5 PTS, 55.8 FG%, 10.6 REB (8 games)
Daishen Nix: 16.5 PTS, 5.1 AST, 4.9 REB, 2.3 STL (12 games)
#4 Seed: South Bay Lakers
South Bay was one of the hottest teams in the league in the middle of the Showcase Cup, going on a seven-game winning streak before finishing 1-2. Its biggest strength? Drawing fouls. This team was top-three in the league in both free throw attempts per game (16.6) and free throws made per game (12.3).
Four players posted 16+ points per game for the squad as well, as Mac McClung leads the Lakers by averaging 20.0. McClung and Mason Jones (17.5 PPG) both head to the charity stripe a combined 6.1 times per game. Might not seem like a bunch, but given the G League’s free throw experimental rule, that can equate to as little as 6.1 PTS or as much as 18.1 PTS from the line itself combined. The team as a whole connects on 74.4% of attempts at the free throw line and is top-three in the league in points coming from free throws per game, as 10.7% come from the line.
Mac McClung: 20.0 PTS, 50.0 FG%, 6.0 AST (12 games)
Mason Jones: 17.5 PTS, 50.8 FG%, 7.5 AST, 5.9 REB (11 games)
Paris Bass: 16.5 PTS, 7.3 REB (12 games)
#5 Seed: Wisconsin Herd
One word to explain the Herd?
Explosive. This team can flat-out jump out of the gym, with high flyers like Rayjon Tucker and Jalen Lecque. Not only that, they can run you out of the gym in a blink of an eye, as they lead the league in scoring at 117.4 points per game on 47.3 FG%, good enough for fourth-best as well. Wisconsin forces turnovers (10.6 STL/G) and capitalize off of that. 20.3% of its points come off of turnovers and 15.3% of its points come off of the fast break.
Want more numbers? Of course you do. The team began the season 7-0 and, with how much they score, they aren’t great from deep. They’re among the middle-of-the-pack of the league in three-point shooting in terms of attempts and makes. Four players who have appeared in at least six games have shot 50% or better from the field. Wisconsin struggles on the glass, giving up 14.0 offensive rebounds per game, which lead to an average of 17.8 second-chance points allowed. Both marks are bottom three in the league.
Tremont Waters: 17.6 PTS, 2.8 3PM/G, 6.4 AST, 2.6 STL (12 games)
Rayjon Tucker: 17.5 PTS, 4.7 REB, 1.5 STL (12 games)
Lindell Wigginton: 16.7 PTS, 5.3 REB, 4.0 AST 12 games)
Jalen Lecque: 14.1 PTS, 55.7 FG% (9 games)
#6 Seed: Oklahoma City Blue
There’s that old saying, “defense wins championships.” The Blue is attempting to take that literally. So far, they’ve held opponents under 100 points six times, and are allowing a league-best 93.8 points per game – the only team to allow less than 100 points a night in the league.
On the offensive side of the ball, Oklahoma City gets it done with a barrage of players. Seven that have appeared in at least half of the teams’ games have gone on to average 10+ points per game. None average more than rookie Tre Mann (15.0 PPG). They might not have that highlighted “go-to guy,” but that hasn’t mattered for the team thus far. They’re insanely efficient on the floor, as the lowest field goal percentage of any player that has played any amount of games is Scotty Hopson’s 36.4%. They have 14 players that have shot 40% or better from the field this season, so it comes as no surprise they’re amongst the league leaders in sharing the ball. They average 25.3 assists per game and score 64.3% of their points off of assists.
Tre Mann: 15.0 PTS, 4.7 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.6 STL (7 games)
Theo Maledon: 13.5 PTS, 6.8 REB, 5.4 AST, 1.6 STL (8 games)
D.J. Wilson: 12.6 PTS, 9.2 REB, 3.3 AST (12 games)
#7 Seed: Motor City Cruise
Saben Lee’s excellent run led the Cruise to Las Vegas, as Motor City used a four-game winning streak at the end of the Showcase Cup to earn a spot in the top 8. The league’s leading scorer (30.6 PTS per game) and November Player of the Month has been nothing short of fantastic for the Cruise, pouring in three games of 40+ PTS. But if the Cruise want to win the whole thing this year, they’ll have to do it without Lee, who is currently up with the Detroit Pistons. In Lee and 2021 2nd-round pick Luka Garza’s absence, Motor City will rely on guys like Jamorko Pickett and Derrick Walton Jr., alongside two-way player Isaiah Livers, to fill the scoring gaps. They could also use some contributions from big man Cheick Diallo, who has scored 20+ points twice this season off the bench, including one game where Lee was up with the Pistons.
The team as a whole ranks top-five in the league in multiple offensive categories:
#3 in FTM/G: 12.0
#4 in AST/G: 25.3
#4 in FTA/G: 16.4
#5 in PTS/G: 114.8
#5 in 3PM/G: 13.6
Seven players that have played in at least half of the team’s games have averaged 10+ points per game, so even with Lee and Garza unavailable in Vegas, they have the manpower to get the job done.
Saben Lee: 30.6 PTS (leads league), 7.4 AST, 6.1 REB, 2.1 STL (7 games)
Luka Garza: 25.0 PTS, 8.3 REB, 2.5 AST (4 games)
Jamorko Pickett: 15.8 PTS, 7.7 REB (12 games)
Derrick Walton Jr.: 13.2 PTS, 7.5 AST, 4.9 REB (10 games)
#8 Seed: Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Fort Wayne’s mix of playing modern-day basketball while also breaking modern-day basketball barriers has been one of the most interesting stories of the season. Not only do they shoot the most three’s of any team in the league (43.6 attempts per game), they also have a 6-foot-5 forward in Terry Taylor tied for the league-lead in rebounds per game. Actually, the top six leaders in rebounding from the Showcase Cup are all 6-foot-9 or under.
Fort Wayne’s two-way players highlight its top scorers, as Duane Washington Jr. is second on the team with 19.9 points per game and Taylor is third (18.7 PTS). Goga Bitadze has made two appearances for the Mad Ants, scoring 38 and 19 points, respectively. With neither of the two-way guys or Bitadze likely to make the trip, more of the scoring load will fall on Justin Anderson and Bennie Boatright. Okay, back to that three-point shooting…
Five (FIVE!) players are pulling at least seven three-pointers per game, as each is averaging 14+ points per game as well. Furthermore, the Mad Ants have hit at least 11 threes in all 12 games, while 39% of their total points come from three-point land. They’re bottom three in the league in points coming from two-point field goal attempts (54.8).
Duane Washington Jr.: 19.9 PTS, 10.0 3PA/G, 4.3 AST (9 games)
Justin Anderson: 14.3 PTS, 6.6 REB, 2.8 AST (11 games)
Terry Taylor: 18.7 PTS, 12.3 REB (leads league), 67.6 FG% (12 games)
Keifer Sykes: 13.9 PTS, 7.7 AST (11 games)