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NBA G League Alumni in NBA Summer League Recap: July 5

By John Bauman | July 6, 2018

After exciting first and second days, the Utah and Sacramento NBA Summer Leagues finished up on Thursday as attention turns to the Las Vegas Summer League, which tips off on Friday.

Here are a few standout performances by NBA G League alums from Thursday’s Summer League slate.

Wayne Selden Jr., Grizzlies

Have yourself a day, Wayne Selden Jr. On Thursday, the Memphis Hustle alum scored 26 points on 8-12 shooting from the field. He barely missed from beyond the arc, hitting six of his seven three pointers.

Selden Jr. signed with the Grizzlies as a rookie after shining for their affiliate in 2016-17, when they were the Iowa Energy. (Memphis has since added a new affiliate, the Memphis Hustle.)

Selden Jr. has the requisite size (6-foot-5), he’s got the shooting (40.2% on three-pointers in 35 NBA games last season), and knows his way around a pick-and-roll. It feels like he’s really close to putting it all together and turning into a cog in an NBA team’s rotation. Maybe this is the summer Selden Jr. blossoms.

Derrick White, Spurs

Matching Selden shot for shot on Thursday was Derrick White, the Austin Spurs champion. In the 94-87 victory over the Grizzlies on Thursday, White scored 26 points, nabbed seven rebounds and dished six assists. Only two other Spurs scored double digits, so every point was needed in the winning effort.

White racked up some frequent flyer miles this past season, as he was assigned to the Austin Spurs 18 different times during the 2017-18 G League season. He ended up playing 17 regular season games and three playoff games with the Spurs, setting a career-high in points on March 12 when he dropped 14 points and went 4-5 from beyond the arc against the Rockets.

In the G League, White was a standout, averaging over 20 points while playing 28.2 minutes per game. The 23-year-old was even ninth in the league in points scored per 48 minutes among players who played at least five games in the G League this past season. He’s kept up the scoring in the NBA Summer League while remaining efficient, especially from three – White hit 5-8 shots from deep on Thursday.

Justin Jackson, Kings

A strong shooting performance propelled Stockton Kings alum Justin Jackson to 26 points, but it was his hustle that stood out more than the numbers on the box score. With 3:32 left in the first quarter, Jackson converted an and-one layup from a Frank Mason III pass that would tie the game up at 15. The clean look was all thanks to Jackson’s dead sprint down the heart of the court and a nifty reverse finish around the hoop.

Jackson was assigned to the G League three times this past season and played six games in the league with the Reno Bighorns, who have since become the Stockton Kings. On November 29, January 5 and January 7, the first-round pick got the call that he would be headed down and made the most of his opportunities to get playing time and develop. He averaged 17.8 points and 6.2 boards in 34.1 minutes per game in the minors.

The name of the game going forward for Jackson is consistency. He has to learn how to consistently shoot and score at an NBA level. In the NBA Summer League, Jackson’s first game was a five-point performance in 32 minutes of game action. On Thursday, just three days later, he put up the game-high 26 points on 9-17 shooting. The same narrative played out in the G League. He scored over 24 points in three games, but also managed just four points in a December 4 loss to the Lakeland Magic.

Omari Johnson, Warriors

The Golden State Warriors reign over the NBA continues — now, their NBA Summer League team has gone undefeated in the California Classic, which took place over three days in Sacramento. Part of the reason why is the play of G League veteran Omari Johnson. He scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting on Thursday afternoon to help the Warriors defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 77-71.

Johnson does have a little bit of a leg up on the competition in the age department. He played four years at Oregon State, finishing his senior year in the 2010-11 season. He has bounced around professional leagues since then, finding himself in the G League multiple times as a member of multiple teams. He was the 39th pick of the 2014 G League draft by the Maine Red Claws. He was later selected by the Memphis Hustle in the fourth round of the G League Expansion draft on August 23, 2017.

Last season in the G League, playing with the Hustle, Johnson averaged 16.5 points and 6.4 rebounds in 44 games. He earned a Gatorade Call-Up late in the season and played for the Memphis Grizzlies, where he would appear in four games.

Johnson is an intriguing player. He’s listed at 6-foot-9, a healthy size for the wing position Johnson plays. Even with all that size, Johnson has a trusty toolbox to turn to on offense, showing off a couple of nifty floaters in his 18 minutes of action on Thursday. And, Johnson possesses that ever-important skill for the modern NBA: shooting. He made 41.7% of his threes this past season in the G League.

Antonius Cleveland, Hawks

The Utah Jazz-Atlanta Hawks Summer League game on Thursday was filled up with G League alumns making an impact. Naz Miltrou-Long, Georges Niang and Tony Bradley all played well for the Jazz, while Tyler Dorsey and the Hawks’ new two-way player, Jaylen Adams, helped Atlanta in a 92-87 loss to Utah. But Antonius Cleveland earns the shoutout for a 14-point performance coming off the bench. He was all over the court, finishing lobs from Trae Young, showcasing his athleticism with fancy finishes at the rim of his own and playing some solid defense.

Cleveland began the year with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Then, he got the call about a Gatorade Call-Up to the Mavericks on November 17, when he signed a two-way contract. Later on in the season, he earned a spot on the Atlanta Hawks’ roster by way of a 10-day contract signed on February 22.

Unlike some of the other pure scorers on this list, Cleveland does more than just get buckets. He averaged a cool 13.9 points per game in seven G League games this past season, but he also does a lot of the little things on the basketball court. He averaged 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals this past season in the G League, for example. He is also a good on-ball defender and has the potential to be a really great one.

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