NBA Call-Up Candidates: Chiozza and Jones Look To Build On Winter Showcase Performances

By Keith Schlosser | January 2, 2019

The start of a new year calls for revitalized goals and increased determination for one and all to reach their ultimate goal. For minor-league prospects, the opportunity to achieve lifelong dreams and play in the NBA is all the more attainable with teams able to offer 10-day contracts beginning January 5. With performances from December’s NBA G League Winter Showcase still fresh in the minds of big league scouts and key decision-makers, it’s the perfect time for everything to come together and have impressive prospects be rewarded for their efforts.

Here’s a look at which athletes have upped their stock in recent weeks, with such a key point in the season approaching:

NBA G League 101: How Call-Ups Work

RJ Hunter, Erie BayHawks: As a former NBA first-round pick back in 2015, Hunter is a familiar commodity up at the next level already. He’s appeared in parts of the previous three NBA seasons, and his sharpshooting prowess for Erie thus far could be a sign that such a streak will continue. Hunter is averaging 22.7 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.1 steals. He’s a talented scorer, who can provide a spark by gliding around the perimeter and slashing through the lane. This swingman has stood out this season thanks to two unforgettable explosions, scoring 40 and 46 points, respectively.

Chris Chiozza, Capital City Go-Go: There’s a certain intangible X-Factor about this floor general, who has infectious chemistry with his teammates. Chiozza turned heads at the Winter Showcase with a 19-point, 10-assist, 7-rebound Las Vegas debut, proving his fingerprints are often left all over any given contest. Not to be outdone by his own success, the guard scored a season-high 20 points against the Nets this past Sunday. He’s been a selfless orchestrator all season long, averaging 6.5 assists per contest. At the same time, he’s making the defense pay for leaving him open as of late, shooting 57% from deep in his last four games.

Jemerrio Jones, South Bay Lakers: Much like Chiozza, Jones pieced together some terrific performances in Las Vegas. He tallied a double-double in game one, and grabbed 14 rebounds in game two. Such prowess on the glass has merely been par for the course, with Jones averaging 10.2 boards this season. With Los Angeles assigning many of its young prospects to South Bay, this forward has become accustomed to finding ways to be effective off the ball. He does all of the little things, also averaging 1.9 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 3.2 assists. At 6’5″ and 200 pounds, Jones plays up to any challenge and defends multiple positions.

Dusty Hannahs, Memphis Hustle: As the sixth man for the Hustle, Hannahs has seemingly already found a niche that could translate well to the NBA. A true offensive spark, this guard pours in points off the bench as though he’s been shot out of a canon. His high-octane energy exhausts defenses and his ability to hit shots from all along the floor keeps opposing backcourts guessing. The 25-year-old is averaging 15.2 points on an ever efficient 51/50/87 shooting clip.

Darius Johnson-Odom, Iowa Wolves: After playing several seasons internationally, Johnson-Odom has returned stateside and is already making the most out of his time in the NBA G League. He’s averaging 20.7 points and is taking care of the ball much better than in previous seasons. This guard is a constant threat to attack the lane, put pressure on the defense, and do all he can to draw contact and fouls inside the paint. Following a 27-point outing at the Winter Showcase (and a season-high 36 points in the game before that), this 2012 second-round NBA Draft pick has officially put scouts on notice that he’s itching to make his return.

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