The 2022 AT&T Winter Showcase is right around the corner, with players from all 30 G League teams soon converging upon Las Vegas to show off their skills to a wide audience.
It, of course, also happens to coincide with the holiday season. And being that it's the holiday season, NBA teams will be out and about shopping for guys to add to their roster down the stretch, whether it be on 10-day, two-way, or season-long deals. Winter Showcase will provide a prime chance for teams to watch these players in person, interact with them, and hopefully offer them opportunities at the next level.
With that being said, here are six players that could be well on their way to earning a Call-Up based on what needs they would help fill.
IF YOU NEED A...Legitimate Scoring Option
Sharife Cooper, Guard, Cleveland Charge
If a spark-plug scorer in the backcourt is what you’re in the market for, look no further than Cleveland’s Sharife Cooper.
Cooper has been on an absolute tear so far with the Charge, emerging as one of the most lethal scoring options in the G. He’s currently second in points per game (25.5 PTS) and is one of only two players with multiple 40-point games to this point in the season. That production has certainly paid dividends, as in the 11 games that Cooper has scored 20 or more points, Cleveland is 10-1.
Thanks in no small part to his contributions, the Charge find themselves in first place in the Central Division and have the second-most wins in the G with 11. Should these trends continue, Cooper could be very much deserving of a Call-Up.
IF YOU NEED A...Top-Notch Passer
Chris Chiozza, Guard, Long Island Nets
As far as distributors go, Chris Chiozza has been one of the best in the G since becoming a full-time member of Long Island.
The former NBA champion has been putting on plenty of passing clinics for the Nets. He leads the league in assists per game (10.9 AST) and has had six outings with double-digit assists, tied for the second-most among all players. He’s recorded 8 or more assists in 11 of the 13 games he’s played in, including his season-high 19-assist effort on Nov. 21 against Raptors 905.
Since Chiozza returned to the Nets on Nov. 15, the team has gone 9-3 and is positioned to potentially secure a spot in the Showcase Cup bracket. He’s already proven in the past that he can carve out a role for himself on an NBA roster and contribute to winning. This season should be no exception.
IF YOU NEED A...3-And-D Skill Set
Gabe York, Guard, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Gabe York hasn’t earned the title of Human Torch this season for nothing.
On seemingly a nightly basis, York has been an absolute problem on both ends of the court. He’s third in the league in scoring (24.7) and is making an impressive 40.3% of the 9.2 threes he attempts per game. Meanwhile, on the defensive end, he's third in steals per game (2.4) and second in total steals (34). To put his two-way production in perspective: York has six games this season with 20+ points and 4+ steals; no other player has more than two.
York is a major reason why the Mad Ants remain right in the mix of things in the Central Division. Being that he's one of the more polished players in the G, he shouldn’t have much difficulty stepping right onto a team at the next level in the near future.
IF YOU NEED A...Shot-Blocking Rim Runner
Jay Huff, Center, South Bay Lakers
Since joining the South Bay Lakers as a rookie out of Virginia in 2021-22, Huff has been nothing short of electric when it comes to defending the paint. He finished third among qualified players in the G League last season with 2.4 blocks per game and has only brought his game to the next level in his second campaign. The 25-year-old center has led the G League in blocks during the Showcase Cup games wire-to-wire, currently averaging 3.5 a game and sitting nearly 1.5 blocks ahead of the next qualified players.
His ability to rotate over and protect the paint makes it easier for South Bay’s perimeter defenders to take risks and hunt for steals, evidenced by Shaquille Harrison’s league-leading 2.8 steals per game. With a 7-foot-1 frame and 7-foot-2 wingspan, Huff can clean up mistakes with ease. He also has excelled as a rim-running big when needed, forming a dangerous pick-and-roll combination with Rookie of the Year Mac McClung last season and Lakers two-way player Scotty Pippen Jr. this year.
IF YOU NEED A... Lockdown On-Ball Defender
Craig Sword, Guard, Capital City Go-Go
Long underrated in terms of personal accolades in the G League, the 28-year-old Sword is recognized by his peers as one of the toughest defenders in the G League. While his defensive prowess might not show up in as dynamic of a way in the stat sheet compared to other G League leaders (1.1 steals per game during Showcase Cup, 1.7 during 2021-22 season for the Go-Go), the 6-foot-3 defensive ace can put the clamps on guards or wings when called upon.
His defensive versatility has earned him multiple spots on USA Basketball rosters, where he played in the 2022 FIBA AmeriCup and recently suited up for the latest window of Qualifying Play for the 2023 World Cup. Sword’s ability to lock down players of all sizes on the wings is well-known throughout the G League, and it’s only a matter of time before NBA teams start to take notice.
IF YOU NEED A... Stretch Four Who Can Crash The Boards
Luka Samanic, Forward, Maine Celtics
The Kia NBA G League Player of the Month in November, Samanic’s name is certainly not unfamiliar to many NBA fans. The former No. 19 overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2019 NBA Draft may not have found his footing in the Association just yet, but he has shown the ability to consistently dominate in the G League.
Still just 22 years old, the 6-foot-10 big man from Croatia put up 21.7 points and 11.4 rebounds while posting double-doubles in 9 of 10 games for Maine in November, and currently sits fourth in the G League with 11.3 rebounds per game. Samanic is one of three qualified players in the G League who pulls down more than 10.0 rebounds per game while also hitting at least 1.5 3-pointers per game - a list that also includes Mexico City Capitanes standout Gary Clark, who earned multiple NBA Call-Ups last season while filling a similar mold.