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One Call-Up Candidate From Each NBA G League Team

By Jake Winderman | January 9, 2019

As of January 5, NBA teams are now able to sign players to 10-day contracts, testing the waters of available prospects on the market. Aside from two-way players, NBA assignees and NBA Draft-eligible prospects, all players on NBA G League rosters are eligible to be called up by any of the 30 NBA teams. Below is one candidate from each NBA G league team who has flashed their skill consistently enough to earn a call-up.

Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario

Desi Rodriguez is a rookie out of Seton Hall playing on the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario along with college teammate and Clippers two-way player Angel Delgado. At 6-6, 240 pounds, Rodriguez has the ability to be an oversized shooting guard or a 3-and-D small forward with his lights-out defense and shooting prowess. Rodriguez is averaging 9.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG & 2.3 APG on 45.3% shooting from the field with a 54.5% true-shooting percentage. His combination of motor/stamina, physical build and offensive ability make him an intriguing call-up candidate.

Austin Spurs

Nick Johnson is no stranger to the NBA G League, winning G League Finals MVP with the Austin Spurs in 2018 during their title run. Johnson is having the best season of his G League career, averaging 18.8 PPG, 6.4 APG, 4.2 RPG & 1.5 SPG on 35.1% shooting from beyond the arc. Despite being a score-first point guard, Johnson ranks 11th in the NBA G League in assists per game and has a 1.88 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. His combination of scoring and dishing off the bench could be helpful to a team making a playoff push.

Canton Charge

Kobi Simmons played on a two-way deal with the Memphis Grizzlies last season and is posting 16.8 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.5 RPG & 1.2 SPG for the Canton Charge this season. Simmons brings an above-average blend of speed and athleticism, using his quickness and length to get to the rim for easy scoring opportunities. Having played in the league before with some success in limited minutes, a 10-day contract seems like a perfect opportunity for Simmons to work his way back into the Association.

Capital City Go-Go

At 6-0, 175 pounds, Chris Chiozza has been told he’s undersized his entire life. This hasn’t stopped him in the least from producing efficient totals at the high school, collegiate and NBA G League level. The former Florida Gator is averaging 10.3 PPG, 6.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG and ranks in the Top 25 in the G League in both assists per game and assist-to-turnover ration. The rookie point guard throws lightning quick chest and bounce passes, setting up teammates with offensive opportunities they didn’t even see available from their vantage points. Chiozza’s vision and basketball IQ is far beyond his years and could greatly benefit a team in need of a third or fourth point guard.

Delaware Blue Coats

Cameron Oliver has long been profiled as an elite athlete and dunker. These descriptions are correct, but don’t even start to describe the Nevada-product’s full arsenal, which has continued to blossom since his rookie season. Oliver is averaging career-highs in PPG (16.3), RPG (8.9), SPG (1.2), BPG (2.1), FG% (58.9%) and FT% (76.6%) this season with the Blue Coats and has made big strides with his three-point shot and form. There’s no doubting Oliver’s ability as a rim-runner and lob-finisher, but his growing defensive prowess and confidence in his outside shot give him a real chance at seeing an NBA Call-Up in the near future.

Erie BayHawks

John Gillon is an undersized point guard, like aforementioned call-up candidate Chris Chiozza, but brings lightning-fast instincts and an-added scoring element to his game. Gillon is posting 16.5 PPG, 6.1 APG & 1.2 SPG on 45% shooting from the field and 36.5% shooting from beyond the arc; he’s also notching 2.37 assists for every giveaway. Gillon makes up for his lack of size with a quick trigger, faster instincts and an extremely high basketball IQ.

Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Stephan Hicks out of Cal State-Northridge is in his 3rd season in the NBA G League and is leading all Mad Ants personnel, outside of two-way players and NBA assignees, in scoring (15.9 PPG) and rebounding (6.8 RPG). Hicks is happy to take smaller defenders into the post, duking it out for free-throw opportunities and easy post-ups, while simultaneously showing the ability to knock down three-point shots while left open. Hicks’ size and shooting ability presents an intriguing Call-Up opportunity, along with a 57.3 TS% and a 7.4% offensive-rebounding percentage.

Grand Rapids Drive

Johnny Hamilton, a native of Trinidad & Tobago, has made a name for himself in his rookie season with the Grand Rapids Drive by crashing the glass with relentless effort and unrelenting determination. Hamilton is nearly averaging a double-double, posting 12.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG & 3.0 BPG in 22 games with the Drive this season on 57.8% shooting from the field. Hamilton ranks 8th among all G League players who have played at least 10 games this season in offensive rebounds per game and 3rd overall in blocks per game. At 7-0, 230 pounds, any team looking for an immediate impact on the offensive and defensive glass should look to Hamilton, who has been one of the league’s better interior scorers this season.

Greensboro Swarm

Chinanu Onuaku has played the role of point forward at times for the Greensboro Swarm and it shows in his averages, where he’s posting 15.3 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 BPG & 1.3 SPG on 55.2% shooting from the field. Onuaku presents a versatile ability at 6-9, 250 pounds to ball-handle, facilitate, shoot and drive to the rim, all of which he’s done successfully for the Swarm this season. Onuaku has tasted the NBA life before with the Rockets and is surely urging to get back.

Iowa Wolves

Darius Johnson-Odom has played at the NBA level before and at 29 years old is trying to close in on his window of opportunity to make it back to the Association. The Wolves guard currently leads the squad with 20.4 PPG, 4.5 APG & 1.5 SPG, adding 4.5 RPG as well. Johnson-Odom is an aggressive scorer with the width and strength to take contact in the lane at 6-1, 220 pounds. Johnson-Odom’s scoring prowess opens up the floor for his teammates, creating even more assist chances for the Marquette alum. Johnson-Odom brings a veteran’s mentality and the experience an NBA team could use.

Lakeland Magic

Gabe York is ranked second on the Lakeland Magic in scoring (17.0 PPG) and is doing so on 42.7% shooting from the field, 36.5% shooting from beyond the arc and 81.8% shooting from the foul line. The speedy guard out of Arizona uses his athleticism to create endless opportunities off the dribble and has a tendency to see how the defense is going to defend him before he ever crosses half court. A team in need of direct scoring could use York’s talent in a call-up situation.

Long Island Nets

Time and time again, Jordan McLaughlin  has proven to be a consistent floor general for the Long Island Nets in their best start in franchise history. The USC-product is averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.9 SPG and only 1.8 turnovers per game, despite playing over 30 minutes per contest. His 2.73 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 14th among G League players with at least 10 games played this season. In a league more focused on point guard play than ever, McLaughlin could provide a reliable backup option headed into the second half of the season.

Maine Red Claws

Teams in need of a reliable 3-and-D should look no further than Wisconsin-product Vitto Brown of the Maine Red Claws, who’s averaging 13.7 PPG & 5.3 RPG on 43.3% shooting from the field and 39.9% shooting from beyond the arc. At 6-8, 235 pounds, Brown presents ideal size as a call-up candidate and the defensive prowess and shooting ability to back up his physical measurements. In any case, a call-up would lead to even more announcers going with the catch-phrase, “Vitto Brown knocks it down!”

Memphis Hustle

Dusty Hannahs seems to be playing in the perfect era for his skill set. The guard out of Arkansas is shooting a blistering 47.2% from beyond the arc and averaging 14.6 PPG for the Memphis Hustle. Hannahs can shoot off the dribble, off the pass or from halfcourt, as we’ve seen a few times so far this season. Teams looking for a shooting specialist won’t have many better options in the NBA G League than the Hustle’s Dusty Hannahs.

Northern Arizona Suns

Peter Jok is another 3-and-D call-up candidate whose length, athleticism and shooting ability may have him on the fast track to the NBA, despite going undrafted. At 6-6, 205 pounds, Jok has a 6-9 wingspan and an 8-6 standing reach. He’s showed tremendous improvement on the offensive end since the start of the season and is now averaging 15.1 PPG & 4.7 RPG on 41.7% shooting from the field and 39.6% shooting from beyond the arc. Jok ‘s physical build allows him to guard both taller forwards and quicker guards off of the switch, adding on to his long list of attributes. Jok would be a smart add for teams in need of a 3-and-D looking towards the NBA G League.

Oklahoma City Blue

A former 2nd round pick out of Clemson, K.J. McDaniels has bounced back and forth between the NBA and NBA G League to start his career. McDaniels is a 6-6, 205 pound guard who’s averaging 14.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG & 2.0 BPG with the O.K.C. Blue this season on 48.8% shooting from the field and 32.7% shooting from long-range. McDaniels has gotten better and better every season at using his above-average athleticism to create opportunities on and off the ball. He’s showed he belongs at the NBA level before and making a strong case to get back.

Raptors 905

Deng Adel provides another 3-and-D call-up option for NBA teams looking for scoring both on and off the ball. Adel is a rookie out of Louisville, averaging 12.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG & 2.6 APG in 31.5 minutes of play on 42.1% shooting from the field. If necessary, Adel can create all of his scoring off the ball on catch-and-shoot three-pointers and mid-range jumpers. When tasked with the ball in his hands, he’s shown proficiency in getting to the rack, drawing fouls and creating opportunities for his teammates. Adel is worthy of an NBA Call-Up and has a chance to be a more known face in the Association within the next couple of seasons.

Rio Grande Valley Vipers

Bruno Caboclo is as well deserving of an NBA Call-Up of maybe any player on this list. At 6-9, 200 pounds and extremely athletic, Caboclo does an excellent job bodying up bigger offensive players in the post and helping on the weakside with rim deterrence. He’s shooting an NBA G League career-high 50.4% from the field and 40.8% from beyond the arc, while garnering the 13th-highest defensive rating of any player in the NBA G League with 10 or more games played. Caboclo can shoot, defend multiple positions without fouling, drive to the basket, hit mid-range jumpers and force turnovers. There could be several NBA teams in need of his services.

Salt Lake City Stars

Willie Reed was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA G League Draft and has played like it. He’s averaging a double-double with 19.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG & 1.8 BPG on 66.8% shooting from the field, which ranks 3rd in the NBA G League. Reed is as good of a screen-and-rim runner in the G League as there is and is garnering almost 5 offensive rebounds per game for the Stars. If there’s a good time to #CallWillieUp, it’s now.

Santa Cruz Warriors

If you’re an NBA team looking for a pure scorer, Kendrick Nunn may be your guy. The Oakland University-product is averaging a team-leading 19.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.9 APG & 1.5 SPG on 45% shooting from the field and 31.5% shooting from beyond the arc. Nunn has given the Sea Dubs offense in times of desperate need and always seems to cook up new ways to get buckets as the season rolls on. He’s been excellent at turning turnovers into points for Santa Cruz this season and could be an interesting, lesser-known name in the NBA realm worthy of a call-up.

Sioux Falls Skyforce

Briante Weber has already received five NBA Call-Ups and is more than deserving of a sixththis season with 10-day contract season fully in swing. Weber just seems to do it all every night for the Skyforce, averaging 13.3 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.3 RPG, and a league-leading 3.3 SPG. On top of his stat-sheet stuffing averages, Weber has been an extremely efficient shooter knocking down 51.3% of his shots from the field and 38.3% of his shots from downtown. Weber defends at a high level, can facilitate offense out of seemingly nothing and has continued to improve his outside shot every game. The VCU product should be at the top of NBA general manager’s lists looking for a gritty, intelligent and determined guard.

South Bay Lakers

Scott Machado is currently leading the NBA G League in dimes with 7.2 assists per game, totaling 14.1 PPG & 3.5 RPG as well. While Machado will need to better his shooting clips, his role as an elite NBA G League floor general is undoubted. No matter who matches up with Machado, the Iona-product always seems to find a way to get an angle and deliver a crisp, perfect pass into the hands of one of his South Bay teammates. For a team looking for a pass-first, -second and -third point guard, Machado may be the answer.

Stockton Kings

Kalin Lucas is averaging the fourth-most points per game of any player in the NBA G League this season whose not on a two-way contract or on assignment, posting 21.8 PPG on 42.8% shooting from the field and 39.6% shooting from beyond the arc. Lucas is also generating 6.3 APG, 3.2 RPG & 1.1 SPG with a 2.14 assist-to-turnover ratio. Lucas excelled at Michigan State as a floor general and seems to be re-finding his niche this season as he’s averaging career-highs in scoring and passing. At 29 years old, Lucas would bring in points, assists and veteran experience to a team looking for an NBA Call-Up.

Texas Legends

Keith Hornsby is another player perfectly fitted for today’s modern game. The LSU product is shooting a ridiculous, league-leading 50% from deep and 50.5% from the field, averaging 11.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG & 1.0 SPG for the Texas Legends this season. Hornsby has a quick release and always seems ready when the ball hits his hands to get a shot off before the defender can close out quickly enough. Teams looking for a sweet-shooting guard could look to Hornsby’s services.

Westchester Knicks

John Jenkins has taken the NBA G League by storm this season, averaging 25.3 PPG, which ranks 5th in the NBA G League, on 47.5% shooting from the field and 43% shooting from beyond the arc. He’s also adding a steady 4.0 APG, 3.9 RPG & 1.1 SPG for the Westchester Knicks this season. Jenkins has a quick trigger and is a fast decision-maker with the ability to fire away off the dribble or off the catch. There’s few better scorers in the G League this season than Jenkins. He’d make a terrific call-up candidate for a team looking for immediate scoring off the bench with no warm-up period necessary.

Windy City Bulls

Walter Lemon Jr. started the season on a two-way contract with the Celtics/Red Claws and is now on the Windy City Bulls roster, posting 21.4 PPG, 7.8 APG, 4.4 RPG & 2.0 SPG combined this season between the two squads. The “lay-up king” is unbelievably acrobatic, finishing drives that seem to be over before they even start. His ability to facilitate has repeatedly caught eyes across the league as he’s become, far and away, one of the best true point guards in the NBA G League. His talent is worthy of the NBA, and whatever team calls him up will find that out very shortly.

Wisconsin Herd

Last but not least is James Young, a former first-round pick out of Kentucky. Young is averaging 18.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.2 APG & 1.2 SPG with the Herd this season and has been seemingly able to get a bucket whenever he likes, whether inside or outside the arc. Young is hitting 42.4% of his total shots and 42.2% of his attempts from long-range. Scoring has never been an issue for Young, and if that’s what certain NBA teams are looking for, he appears to be a solid call-up candidate.

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