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NBA Call-Up Candidates: Johnson-Odom’s Recent Award Sets Tone For Potential NBA Return

By Keith Schlosser | March 5, 2019

From Richard Solomon (Thunder) and John Jenkins (Knicks), to more recently Terrence Jones and Chris Chiozza (Rockets), quite a few up-and-coming NBA G League prospects have appeared on this weekly Call-Up Candidates list, only to find their way to The Association not long after.

The Call-Ups just keep coming — 37 in all this season — proving that NBA teams are hungry for fresh faces to step in and contribute to help them get over the hump and soar towards the postseason, or perhaps plan ahead for the future instead. There are experienced veterans who know what it means to compete under postseason pressure, and young guns looking to build up their respective resumes. The possibilities are endless, but the constant that remains is that there are plenty of options to be found in the NBA G League.

Here’s a look at five more prospects, craving an opportunity to carve out a potential future at the next level.

Darius Johnson-Odom, Iowa Wolves

In a sea of league leaders highlighted by Two-Way Players and NBA assignees, Johnson-Odom stands tall as one of the top players yet to be signed. Currently the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA G League, the 29-year-old is averaging 22.7 points and won February Player of the Month after not scoring fewer than 22 points in any game from January 21 through February 25.

DJO put together a strong streak, but for NBA teams looking for more than scorers, he makes sure to cover all bases. He’s used his scoring powers for good this season, enhancing his court-vision and finding open teammates whenever a double-team comes his way; he’s averaged 6.4 assists over his last five games.

Rob Gray, Fort Wayne Mad Ants

One might not find Gray atop of the lists of league leaders in any specific category, but that’s only because he’s truly begun to hit his stride at the perfect time. Averaging 22.7 points over his last 10 games, Gray has experienced a rapid rise that has boosted his overall 17.3-point-per-game mark on the season. His hot streak includes a 46-point explosion on February 13 and a triple-double on February 22.

The 24-year-old is averaging 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists over his last five games. For NBA teams looking for an injection of life off the bench, Gray is proving himself as someone who scores in bunches, but also takes pride in controlling the tempo as a steady floor general.

Chinanu Onuaku, Greensboro Swarm

Fresh off helping USA Basketball secure two more victories in the final leg of World Cup Qualifying play, Onuaku has a strong presence on the glass that was well recognized by head coach Jeff Van Gundy and his staff. Perhaps a pair of big league eyes could be next.

The big man returns currently ranked fourth in the NBA G League with 12.2 rebounds per games What’s more, he’s also the only player in the top 10 in boards also averaging over 3 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal per game. He’s been the consummate glue guy in the frontcourt — muscling his way down low and applying hard-nosed defense, all while keeping his eyes peeled for teammates who can cash in on the second-chance opportunities that he keeps alive. His versatility, paired with his invaluable experience competing for USA Basketball, could ready this 22-year-old for another glance at NBA action.

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Derek Cooke Jr., Raptors 905

A midseason acquisition, Cooke Jr. has become the ultimate glue guy for the surging Raptors 905. Boasting plenty of scoring prowess and an uptempo game on offense, this team needs a defensive anchor and the big man has certainly embraced that role in the wake of Two-Way Player Chris Boucher’s full-time NBA deal. Quickly emerging into a double-double machine, the 27-year-old has averaged 12.2 points and 13.8 rebounds in his last five games. As this bruising big man holds court down low, he’s certainly coming up with more scoring opportunities. But make no mistake: this athletic specimen with an endless motor sacrifices his body and fights to keep possessions alive, showing that he doesn’t need to put the ball in the basket to find success.

Dusty Hannahs, Memphis Hustle

Talk about efficiency. Hannahs keeps it simple: He makes shots from all the court and is never one to let his team down. It doesn’t matter how many minutes he sees, Hannahs can score in bunches and remains focused on fulfilling his role. Over his last five games, the young gun has tallied 18.6 points per contest on an eye-popping 56/53/89 shooting clip. He’s a professional who has demonstrated quite well that he can heat up in a hurry as someone who seamlessly finds a rhythm. For NBA teams looking for snippets of assistance without disrupting a rotation, he has the potential to provide it.

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