Fresh off an NBA G League Finals run, the likes of Rockets assignee Michael Frazier, and Nets assignees Theo Pinson and Dzanan Musa, are still standing tall as beneficiaries from all the positives they can take away from their minor league experience.
Frazier continues to embody what a winner truly is. After making an inspiring return from a devastating knee injury last season, the swingman persevered his way back to earn many accolades. He represented USA Basketball during World Cup Qualifying play, and was honored with the NBA G League’s Most Improved Player award. The Rockets rewarded him with an NBA call-up, but Frazier still had the opportunity to don his familiar Vipers uniform once more to help the club secure a title victory.
“I’m a champion. No one can take that away. That stays with me for life,” he said while holding the coveted trophy in the locker room. Frazier later added, “This means everything. I’m a competitor, but this is more about what this organization has done for me. Coach Blair and his staff have been so important to my development. The [front office] has believed in me. From top to bottom, everyone has been great. I’ve had teammates, even guys who aren’t with us at the moment, who have been very supportive. They’ve all been a part of my journey and I’m blessed to have them.”
“What a blessing it is to be in this organization. It’s the best organization in the NBA. To win a G League championship and get called up to the NBA, this is a fairy tale for me, especially considering where I was a year ago.” Now, he’ll enjoy the ride as Houston continues on their quest for a big league championship. Surely having a player like Frazier, fresh off a similar win with the necessary mentality, will provide his new group with a boost.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) April 13, 2019
Regardless of how much a young player in that situation sees the court, there’s always value they can add. Just ask Frazier’s Finals competitor Theo Pinson.
“We do our part. We’re ready to play when our number is called, but at the same time, we enjoy the game. We like having fun on the bench because it gets our teammates involved,” he revealed. “Our job is to help get our teammates ready, so we do everything we can.”
An NCAA champion with North Carolina in 2017, Pinson’s game-winner in the Eastern Conference Finals propelled the Long Island Nets to their NBA G League Finals matchup with Rio Grande Valley. Though they came up short, Pinson’s Two-Way Contract was converted into a standard one. On Monday night, he scored 9 points (hitting three daggers from deep) and was a +8 in 10 minutes during his NBA postseason debut against the 76ers.
Despite Brooklyn’s defeat in game two, Pinson played well and shared the court with frequent Long Island teammate, Brooklyn Nets assignee Musa. He added 4 points in what turned out to be his postseason debut as well. The 19-year old may still be scratching the surface of an NBA career, but there are a couple of things in his favor. Having competed in games with high stakes on the international stage (and already sharing the court with Pinson through the Finals), Musa says he’s been preparing for his time in the NBA with increased reps with Long Island.
“It’s great. The Nets have shown that they are one of the best organizations in the NBA. We try and show that every day with our behavior and aggressiveness on the court. [Theo and I] are trying to be the closest of friends off the court and I think you’re starting to see that on the court,” he relayed. “You see that friendship and I think that environment helps us manage things and furthers our relationship.”
Much like their time together furthers their familiarity, the time Frazier, Pinson, and Musa spent gracing the NBA G League floor this season undoubtedly aided their development. Being able to taste what a winning culture is like will prove to be the icing on the cake for how they contribute at the next level as the postseason continues.