This season, more than 40% of NBA players on Opening Night rosters boasted NBA G League experience. As NBA G League alums continue to make an impact at the next level, NBAGLeague.com’s Alumni Report will shed light on who shines the brightest from week to week.
Here’s a look at the early standouts from the first few weeks of the NBA season.
Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat (Reno Bighorns, Iowa Energy, and Sioux Falls Skyforce alum)
Since he last played in the NBA G League back in 2014-15, Whiteside has emerged as a double-double machine in the Association. In addition to averaging 14.2 points, the big man is also tallying career-best numbers of 15.5 rebounds (currently good for second-best in the NBA) and 3.6 blocks (currently the league’s top mark). If he maintains such stellar accomplishments, it’s possible Whiteside could be on the fast track to becoming the first-ever alum to rise to NBA All-Star status.
Alfonzo McKinnie, Golden State Warriors (Windy City Bulls and Raptors 905 alum)
McKinnie has come a long way since participating in an open NBA G League tryout, now thrust into a key role off the bench for the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. After patiently waiting for his time to shine, McKinnie has averaged 7.6 points and 4.4 rebounds over his last five games. As a strong rebounder and reliable 3-and-D contributor, he’s well on his way to carving out a niche and earning the long-term trust of head coach Steve Kerr, who has proven to have an eye for talent when it comes to finding complements for Golden State’s resident stars.
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“It’s been a hell of a journey. A lot of ups and downs from where I started to where I am now. … It does feel surreal at times. There was a point in time when I didn’t expect anything like this to happen. I wanted it to happen, prayed for it to happen, but at the time it wasn’t looking promising. As the days went on those opportunities came about. I’m here now and just grateful.” The journey of #GLeagueAlum Alfonzo McKinnie (🗣 via @ChicagoBulls), who returns to action with the @Warriors tonight (10:30 pm/et, @NBAonTNT)! #ChangeTheGame
Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat (Maine Red Claws and Sioux Falls Skyforce alum)
Having spent parts of three seasons donning a Skyforce uniform, it’s safe to say that McGruder had plenty of time to acclimate himself to what has become the Miami Heat’s system. The organization has a very close-knit development program in place with Sioux Falls, and the 27-year-old is undoubtedly benefiting from his increased familiarity. He’s become a key cog for head coach Erik Spoelstra, averaging a versatile line of 13.6 points (on 46% from the field and 47% from deep), 5.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists for Miami this season.
Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs (Austin Spurs alum)
Following a collection of roster changes and injuries to other key players, Forbes has been catapulted into a starting role with San Antonio. The guard showed flashes of dominance with Austin on assignment during the 2016-17 campaign, and is now finally receiving ample playing time to put up bigger numbers in San Antonio. Averaging a career-high 29 minutes per contest, Forbes continues to come through, also logging career-best marks of 12.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals.
Danny Green, Toronto Raptors (Erie BayHawks, Reno Bighorns and Austin Spurs alum)
Now that he’s become more of a household name in the NBA, it’s sometimes easy to take for granted that Green clawed his way into the Association following time in the NBA G League. En route to becoming an NBA champion, Green has served as a consummate role model for the kind of player and respective path current prospects should follow. The sharpshooter is about as consistent as they come, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down while taking on a new challenge with the Raptors. Having joined a new squad following eight seasons with the Spurs, Green is averaging 10 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Green is lights out from downtown and has shot 45% from deep. He’s played a key role in Toronto’s 11-1 start to the 2018-19 season.