At the time of the NBA G League’s season suspension due to the Coronavirus, the Wisconsin Herd stood atop of league standings with a record of 33-10 and their success this campaign was a true team effort. The proof was evidently in the pudding.
By The Numbers: On offense, Wisconsin was led by two scoring juggernauts and perennial MVP candidates in Two-Way Player Frank Mason and Jaylen Adams. Mason led the league in scoring with 26.4 points per game at a 50/43/82 shooting clip to go with 5 assists and 1.1 steals. Adams was the perfect Robin to Mason’s Batman, slotting in at No.6 in the league with 21.5 points per game. It was a year of tremendous growth for the latter, as he saw increases in statistical categories across the board after spending the 2018-19 season with the Erie BayHawks. In addition to his points average (15.3 to 21.5), Adams saw numbers rise including his field goal percentage (39% to 49%), three-point field goal percentage (34% to 40%), rebounds (4.7 to 5.1) and steals per game (1.5 to 1.8). There’s no doubt Adams can put the ball in the hoop, but playing alongside Mason also forced him to leave his fingerprints on the game in different ways and he didn’t disappoint.
Speaking of finding ways to contribute beyond scoring the basketball, Jemerrio Jones served as Wisconsin’s Swiss Army knife all season long. In addition to ranking third in the league with 12 rebounds per contest, the forward was the only player in the league’s top thirty rebound per game leaders to also average at least 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals. Jones tallied 19 double-doubles (he averaged 10.8 points), tied for fourth-best in the league. Though he only compiled one triple-double, his versatile efforts led him to flirt with one seemingly on a nightly basis.
Recognizable Honors: As the Herd continued to stampede over opponents this season, their leaders were rewarded. Rayjon Tucker (December), Jaylen Adams (January) and Frank Mason (February) all received Player of the Month honors along the way and Chase Buford received a Coach of the Month award in January after Wisconsin went 8-2. The aforementioned on-the-court trio also all earned nods to the All-NBA G League Eastern Conference Midseason Team. Adams and Bucks assignee Dragan Bender received Player of the Week honors during the campaign as well.
NBA Call-Ups: While Adams undeniably continued to knock on the NBA door all season long, Tucker was the sole Herd member to break it down and earn a promotion of his own this season. By the time Tucker received his Player of the Month award in January, he had already departed the minor league thanks to an NBA Call-Up from the Utah Jazz on December 26. Of course, it was Tucker’s stellar showing at the Winter Showcase and his acrobatic ways that helped him catch the attention of the organization. After averaging 23.3 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Herd, Tucker has subsequently gone on to appear in fourteen games for Utah this season.
Organizational Symmetry: The fact that Bender was able join Wisconsin as an assignee and not just fit right in, but take a leading role at the blink of an eye, speaks to the symmetry and communication between the Bucks and Herd. There was no talk of Wisconsin missing a beat — they were merely bolstered in a big way by Bender’s arrival. He averaged 20.5 points through thirteen games.
This season also featured a two-game, 17 point per game assignment stint from Thanasis Antetokounmpo. His participation led to an appearance from brother Giannis, the reigning NBA MVP. Much like the Herd were in first place in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks held the NBA’s best record at 53-12 at the time of the season’s suspension.