NBA Call-Up Candidates: Briante Weber, Norvel Pelle Assert Defensive Prowess

By Keith Schlosser | December 4, 2018

With the G League Winter Showcase steadily approaching (Dec. 19-22 in Las Vegas), NBA teams are preparing to get an in-depth look at some of the prized prospects that could potentially fill important roles as the season progresses. As teams head into the new year, the time for roster evaluation is in full swing, especially as 10-day contracts are able to be offered in January. Here are five call-up candidates that are gearing up to strut their stuff during a key time to shine in the coming weeks.

NBA G League 101: How Call-Ups Work

Willie Reed, Salt Lake City Stars: Even though Reed was selected as the first pick of the 2018 NBA G League Draft, he could have faced an uphill battle finding his place alongside a slew of Two-Way Players and NBA assignees gracing the minor league hardwood. Whereas that may have been a tough task for some, the NBA veteran of 152 games has taken this challenge in stride, asserting his dominance in a physical way to rise up as one of the league’s best big men. Hoping to resume his big league career with a fourth season, he is averaging 22.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. If a big league team is looking for some hustle and solid rebounding off the bench, he’s a more than proven commodity.

Briante Weber, Sioux Falls Skyforce: Much like Reed is a reliable, bruising big man, Weber is well known as a mature floor general who can keep things calm on offense, while pestering opposing guards on the defensive end. His versatile mix of skills on both ends often come together to create the perfect storm. He too has risen up in a leading role, standing out among some very notable players on the Skyforce roster. All the while, the team has amassed a 10-2 record to lead the Western Conference. Weber’s stat-line of 14.8 points, 5.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds pales in comparison to his eye-popping, league-leading mark of 4.0 steals per contest. Opposing guards must be on alert and protect the ball when the 6-foot-2 guard is on the loose.

Nick Johnson, Austin Spurs: The champ is here. Months after leading the Spurs to the 2018 NBA G League championship, Johnson has returned to the minor league at the most opportune of times. Through six contests, the 6-foot-3 guard has averaged 22.5 points on a 44.2/42.9/76.9 shooting clip to go along with 6.5 assists. He’s someone who can control the tempo, letting the offense come to him naturally. He can make it rain from around the perimeter, but isn’t afraid to attack the paint and find teammates in transition. Despite his past NBA experience, Johnson is still just 25 years old and may very well be easing into his professional prime after taking the time to develop his combo guard skills.

Norvel Pelle, Delaware Blue Coats: This 6-foot-10 big man is quietly putting together one of the most efficient campaigns in all of the NBA G League. His 69.8% shooting is good for second best in the league, and his 2.8 blocks are fourth highest as well. Pelle is an ideal complementary player: he cleans up the glass, protects the rim, and can convert on second chance opportunities. There are plenty of offensive stars already gracing the NBA stage, and Pelle’s ability to do the dirty work could take some pressure off big league players as they continue to endure the grit and grind of a long season. He’s also averaging 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in just 24.2 minutes per contest.

Kadeem Allen, Westchester Knicks: Allen is someone who doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, he takes care of it. He’s an incredibly clutch performer who knows what his team needs to succeed. Some players do what they can to become good at as many components of the game as possible. Allen has worked hard to become great in a select few areas, making him a specialist at what he does best. His 6.2 assists and 1.8 steals are both very respectable marks in the NBA G League, allowing him to get into the mix alongside NBA veterans and Two-Way Players. He can finish around the rim with very evasive moves, too. He’s playing at a high level, following up on his 2018 NBA G League All-Defensive First Team campaign.

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