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NBA PM: 50 NBA Predictions Revisited

Back in October, Joel Brigham made 50 NBA predictions. Now he’s back to lament his poor decision making.

Joel Brigham

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Back in October, weeks before the season began, before we really had any idea what would lie ahead of us in the year to come, I made a whole bunch of predictions about what would happen in the NBA over the course of the next nine months. I do this every year, with increasingly comedic results, but even though it never stops being embarrassing to come back to the moronic things I thought would be true all the way back in in the fall, I can’t help but think that readers sure do enjoy a good cold take.

And that’s what these are, essentially—a subzero bucket of dry-ice-freezing cold takes. I nailed some, as I usually do, but the misses are pretty nasty. Read, enjoy, and berate without prejudice. Here they are, my 50 predictions for the 2016-2017 NBA season, revisited:

Individual Predictions

James Harden is going to lead the league in scoring with over 31.0 PPG.

WRONG. I meant to say Russell Westbrook, obviously. I got everything right except the name! It’s not like Harden wasn’t close, though. He finished second among all scorers with 29.1 PPG.

Hassan Whiteside is going to lead the league in blocks with over 3.8 BPG.

WRONG. Not even close. Whiteside finished fourth in blocks per game, averaging 2.1 per game. Even the league leader, Rudy Gobert, finished with just 2.64 BPG. Nobody came close to 3.0 per contest this year, let alone 3.8.

Jonas Valanciunas will finish among the top rebounders in the league.

RIGHT. Valanciunas finished with the 12th most rebounds in the NBA this year with 779, behind all the usual mainstays but ahead of Nikola Jokic, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Andre Drummond, however, will once again lead the league in rebounds, this time with over 15 RPG.

WRONG. Whiteside did lead in this category, with Drummond and his 13.8 RPG finishing in second place.

Last year’s assist king Rajon Rondo (11.7 APG) will see his assists-per-game average drop under 10.0 per game.

RIGHT. Harden, Westbrook and John Wall were the only players to average double-digits in assists this year. Rondo averaged only 6.7 APG in the regular season.

Kevin Durant will score fewer than 25 PPG for the first time in his career since his rookie season.

WRONG. But barely. In 62 games this year, Durant averaged 25.1 PPG, still his lowest scoring output since his rookie season.

Karl-Anthony Towns will make his first All-Star team.

WRONG. While Towns had a perfectly lovely season, the loaded frontcourt position out west and team woes for the Wolves kept him out this year. It’s coming, though, and soon.

Zach LaVine will win the Dunk Contest for the third consecutive year.

WRONG. His injury kept him from even competing. To be fair, though, had he competed he would’ve won that horrible dunk contest by a bajillion points.

Derrick Rose will play in fewer than 60 games.

WRONG. This is getting frustrating. Rose played only 64 games, which is more or less what I expected to have happen this season. I just undershot those missed games by four.

Team Predictions

The Golden State Warriors will win fewer than 70 games.

RIGHT. They may have won 70 again had Durant not gotten hurt, but there’s nothing wrong with 67.

As a team, the Boston Celtics will lead the league in rebounds.

WRONG. I’m trying to figure out what I was thinking here. With most of these predictions, especially the ones that I missed, it’s easy to think, “Yeah, but I can see what he was thinking.” Not with this one. Boston was near the bottom of the league in rebounding this year. It’s not like Al Horford was going to add a lot of boards per game. I’m an idiot sometimes.

The Utah Jazz will average over 101 PPG.

WRONG. The sound you just heard was me punching through the drywall in my living room. Utah averaged 100.7 PPG as a team this year.

The Houston Rockets will attempt more three-pointers per game than the Golden State Warriors.

RIGHT. And so did the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. The Rockets led the league with an insane 40.3 three-point attempts a game, while the Warriors finished fifth in that category with 31.2. The Rockets, for what it’s worth, also knocked down an extra 2.4 threes per game, too.

For the second consecutive year, the Phoenix Suns will lead the league in turnovers.

WRONG. The Sixers took home the turnover crows this year, with 16.0 per night. Phoenix at least was kind enough to finish fourth in this category with 14.9 turnovers per game.

The San Antonio Spurs will lead the league in defensive efficiency.

RIGHT. The Spurs topped all teams with a defensive efficiency of 100.9. Not surprising when they’ve got a two-time Defensive Player of the Year on the roster.

The Chicago Bulls will finish among the top six in team assists.

WRONG. The Bulls were nowhere near sixth in the NBA in assists. In fact, they were 17th with 17.0 APG per game, which probably is a byproduct of lots of isolation offense and entirely inefficient point guard play all season long.

Rookie Predictions

Ben Simmons will not play a single game for the Philadelphia 76ers this season.

RIGHT. I hate that I was right about this, but it’s sort of a Sixers tradition to have a rookie sit the whole season. What kind of person would Simmons have been to have broken that? Markelle Fultz is currently walking around Philadelphia with queen-size mattresses wrapped around his knees.

Buddy Hield will lead all rookies in three-pointers made.

RIGHT. And it wasn’t even close. Hield dropped in 148 three-pointers this season, while the second-place rookie shooter from deep, Jamal Murray, poured in 115.

Kris Dunn will not play as many minutes as Ricky Rubio in Minnesota.

RIGHT. Rubio almost doubled Dunn’s floor time, 32.9 MPG to 17.1 MPG.

Thon Maker will show flashes, but won’t make much of an impact in his rookie season, failing to haul in either five points or five rebounds per game.

RIGHT. Maker grew increasingly effective as the season wore on, even starting games in the playoffs, but in his 57 regular season games this year he averaged only 4.0 PPG and 2.0 RPG.

Brandon Ingram will score well, but will not lead all rookies in scoring.

RIGHT. He wasn’t even close. Hield, Murray, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Malcolm Brogdon and Yogi Ferrell all scored more points per game than the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. There will be a day when it will look ridiculous that he wasn’t higher up on that list.

Playoff Predictions

The Toronto Raptors will not have homecourt advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.

WRONG. After finishing with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors earned homecourt in their first round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Charlotte Hornets, meanwhile, will be a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.

WRONG. Yeah, no. That didn’t happen.

The Indiana Pacers will play in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.

WRONG. Nor did this.

The Dallas Mavericks will not make the Playoffs.

RIGHT. I was correct on this account, however. An aging Dirk Nowitzki and relatively thin talent in other areas meant the Mavs weren’t able to sneak into the 2017 postseason.

Neither will the Memphis Grizzlies.

WRONG. At the time I made this prediction, I was thinking that Memphis’ style was antiquated and that the roster was uninspired. Despite all that, they still ended up four games above .500 and slotted a 7-seed against the San Antonio Spurs.

This year’s Finals will be a rematch of last year’s Finals between the Golden State Warriors and defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

RIGHT. Not the riskiest prediction, but here we are.

Yes, the Golden State Warriors will win the championship.

RIGHT. But I don’t have to be happy about it.

Awards Predictions

Joel Embiid will win Rookie of the Year

WRONG. Easily the leader among rookies in points and rebounds, Embiid would have run away with the award had he played anything remotely close to a full season, but with only 31 games under his belt it was impossible to give him the accolade. Instead, it went (rather surprisingly) to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon.

Russell Westbrook will be named the MVP

RIGHT. He dominated the first-place votes in a year when he averaged a triple-double. I made this prediction thinking he’d go into what Bill Simmons calls “F You Mode,” but no one really thought he’d actually average a triple-double. What a year from an amazing player, the first in decades to win MVP for a sub-50-win team.

Zach Randolph will be named the 6th Man of the Year

WRONG. In most cases, when a player pours in 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game off the bench, he gets consideration for the year’s top accolade for reserves, but Randolph wasn’t even a finalist. He had a solid year as a reserve, but not as good as the actual winner, Eric Gordon.

Kawhi Leonard will be the Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in a row.

WRONG. Finally, it was Draymond Green’s time to “steal” this one away from Kawhi (get it?). Either guy could have won the award, but it was time to spread the love. Green absolutely deserved the award.

Brad Stevens will be the Coach of the Year

WRONG. Even though the Celtics shockingly finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference, Stevens wasn’t a finalist for this award, which make sense considering the years Mike D’Antoni had with the Rockets and Erik Spoelstra had with the HEAT.

Trade Predictions

Kenneth Faried will be shopped but ultimately will remain a Denver Nugget for the entire season yet again.

RIGHT. Somehow, someway, Faried made it through the year as a Nugget.

The 76ers will find a place for either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel this season.

RIGHT. It looked like Okafor was going to be the one shipped out, but ultimately it was Noel who got the boot. If Philly can find a taker, Okafor will be out the door this summer, too.

Brandon Knight will be unhappy and underutilized in Phoenix, but despite that he will not be traded this season.

RIGHT. Phoenix has a loaded backcourt, but they haven’t done anything with Knight or Bledsoe, yet…

This is the year that Sacramento finally trades Rudy Gay. It’s happening.

WRONG. Had he not gotten hurt this absolutely would have happened. Damn the basketball gods!

This is not the year that Sacramento finally trades DeMarcus Cousins, however. Players that good are too important to let walk.

WRONG. This prediction was the setup, and the actual trade was the punchline.

The Orlando Magic will trade one of their frontcourt players before the deadline.

RIGHT. Too many cooks in that kitchen led Orlando to send off, of all people, the newly-acquired Serge Ibaka for very little in return. They essentially let Victor Oladipo walk to get their mitts on Terrence Ross. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a downgrade.

Miscellaneous Predictions

The Chicago Bulls will lead the league in attendance.

RIGHT. I won’t stop making this prediction until it stops being right.

The Brooklyn Nets will win the draft lottery.

RIGHT. Unfortunately they didn’t get to keep the pick. It ended up going to Boston, who traded it to Philadelphia.

There will be a new collective bargaining agreement in place before the end of the season.

RIGHT. And praise all of the gods that people praise for so swift a resolution. Nobody wanted another strike.

Insiders Predictions

While not all of these distinguished writers are still with Basketball Insiders, they were back in the fall, and they each made a prediction of their own. Here’s how those panned out:

Oliver Maroney: James Harden will be MVP.

WRONG. If only Oliver were as smart as me when it comes to picking MVPs. It’s fine, though. At least he has something toward which to strive.

Ben Dowsett: The Memphis Grizzlies will miss the playoffs.

WRONG. They got in.

Jonathan Concool: The Minnesota Timberwolves will make the playoffs.

WRONG. They did not.

Jesse Blancarte: Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson will play at least 70 regular season games.

RIGHT. Of all the bold predictions, this one may have been the boldest. Gordon and Anderson are two of the most injured players of their era, and their prolonged health this season is a big part of why the Rockets were so good all year long.

Jabari Davis: The Minnesota Timberwolves will win more games than the Oklahoma City Thunder.

WRONG. My colleagues are nuts. This one was every bit as bad as the one about the Celtics leading the league in rebounds. Okay, so maybe not that bad.

Alex Kennedy: Russell Westbrook will record 25 triple-doubles this season.

RIGHT. We all know Westbrook broke the NBA record this season and racked up 42 triple-doubles. The real win here is that Kennedy actually was right about something for once.

Cody Taylor: The Miami HEAT will finish about .500 and make the playoffs.

WRONG. Oh, Cody. So close. Just like the actual .500 Miami HEAT and their playoff hopes, dashed by a tiebreaker.

Lang Greene: Dwight Howard will be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

WRONG. Howard earned no such accolade this year. He averaged 13.5 PPG and 12.7 RPG this year, but there weren’t even whispers about him potentially making the All-Star team when voting was wrapping up. He wasn’t even close.

*****

Come fall, I’ll be back in the saddle, making insane predictions. This year, I was 21 for 42 in my predictions, frankly one of my better win percentages ever, while my colleagues were just 2 for 8, but we’ll all try to improve next year. What’s an NBA preseason without a few hot takes, after all?

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NBA

NBA AM: Most Likely All-Star Snubs

Damian Lillard seems to top the All-Star snub list every season. It couldn’t happen again, could it?

Joel Brigham

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This year the NBA has famously decided to mix up the way the All-Star rosters work, while rather infamously deciding against televising the draft that will organize those players into teams, but even as some things change, some things remain the same.

Just like every year, there will be snubs when the All-Star reserves are announced on Tuesday night. Oh, there will be snubs.

The starters already have been selected, chosen by a combination of fan votes, media votes and player votes, the latter of which were taken so seriously that Summer League legend Jack Cooley even earned a single nomination from one especially ornery player voter.

For those that missed the starters, they include LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, and Joel Embiid from the Eastern Conference and Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and James Harden from the Western Conference.

That leaves seven more reserves from each conference and way more deserving players than that from which to choose. These will be selected by the coaches, per tradition, but it’s anybody’s guess who ends up making the team. There absolutely are going to be some massive snubs this year, so let’s take a quick look at the most likely candidates to earn roster spots this winter, as well as who that might leave out of this year’s event in Los Angeles.

The Eastern Conference

Let’s start with the “sure things,” which almost certainly will include with Indian Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. Not only is he putting up a career-best 24/5/4 line, but he’s also averaging two steals per night for an Indiana team that currently lives in the playoff picture despite dismal expectations. That’s almost entirely because of Oladipo.

In the frontcourt, there was plenty of healthy debate when Embiid was voted the starter over Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis, so there’s a very good chance that those two guys find their way to the roster, as well.

Kevin Love, who also is having a monster statistical season, seems like the most obvious third frontcourt guy, but his defense stinks and the Cavs haven’t exactly proven themselves worthy of two All-Stars. Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris both are having borderline All-Star seasons for a borderline playoff team, but they are the closest contenders to stealing away that third frontcourt reserve slot from Love.

Beyond that, Bradley Beal or John Wall likely will be the “other” guard reserve, but choosing which one is dicey. Wall’s the four-time All-Star, but Beal arguably is having the better year and has been snubbed for this event entirely too many times already. It doesn’t seem likely that both guys will make the team.

The wild cards could be that “other” Wizards guard among Beal and Wall, one of those two Pistons players, Miami’s Goran Dragic (they are fourth in the conference, rather surprisingly), Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, or Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons.

What seems most probable is that Oladipo and Beal earn the Eastern Conference reserve slots, with Horford, Porzingis and Love earning the backup frontcourt positions. Lowry and Wall feel most likely as reserves.

That means the most likely Eastern Conference snubs will be: Goran Dragic, Ben Simmons, Andre Drummod, Tobias Harris and Khris Middleton.

The level of controversy with this group feels fairly low, though if Dragic or Drummond were to make the team over Wall or Love, the conversation would be a lot feistier.

The Western Conference

Choosing the reserve guards in the Western Conference is a no-brainer. It will be MVP candidates Jimmy Butler and Russell Westbrook, which immediately means that if Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and Paul George are not named as Wild Card players, they will be left off of the team. That’s about as “yikes” as “yikes” gets.

The battle for the frontcourt spots are going to be no less brutal, even with Kawhi Leonard effectively out of consideration having missed so much time at the beginning of the season. The Spurs will have an All-Star anyway, though, which makes LaMarcus Aldridge all but a lock.

Towns, who is averaging a 20/12 with over two assists and 1.5 blocks per game on one of the West’s top teams, also feels likely to get in. That means Draymond Green and Nikola Jokic are the two guys expected to battle over that last frontcourt spot, and both deserve real consideration. Green’s importance is less obvious to this Warriors team with Durant on the roster, but he’s no less essential even if his offensive numbers are down. Jokic, meanwhile, has kept Denver in the playoff hunt even without Paul Millsap, and is the best passing big man in the game.

The most likely scenario in terms of Western Conference reserves has Butler and Westbrook getting voted in at guard, Aldridge, Towns and Green voted in as frontcourt players, and Thompson and Lillard voted in as the wild cards.

That means the most likely Western Conference snubs will be: Chris Paul, Paul George, and Nikola Jokic.

Paul has missed 17 games this season, which is just too many when there are so many other great guards from which to choose, and George’s usage has dropped massively in Oklahoma City. As for Jokic, somebody has to get snubbed, and the other reasonable possibility is that he be named a wild card player at the expense of Lillard, and no NBA fan should have to see that happen yet again.

The 2018 NBA All-Star Reserves will be announced at 7:00 p.m. EST on January 23 on TNT.

Tune in Tuesday night to see which players will make the team, and which will inevitably be snubbed.

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NBA DAILY

NBA Daily: Rockets Might Be Formidable Challenge For Warriors

If nothing else, the Rockets gave everyone, including the Warriors, something to think about by beating the champs.

Moke Hamilton

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For those that had any lingering doubt as to the authenticity of the Houston Rockets, Saturday afternoon’s win over the Golden State Warriors should serve as a bit of a wakeup call.

Sure, championships aren’t won in mid-January, but by virtue of the win, the Rockets won their season series against the Warriors, 2-1.

Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season—the year the Warriors won the first of three consecutive Western Conference Finals—they’ve lost a season series to just one other team: the San Antonio Spurs.

A review of the tape suggests that those that believe that Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard are truly the team that has the best shot of beating the Warriors is founded in some fact. In the last three seasons, the Warriors have lost a total of 39 games.

In total, during that span, seven teams have failed to beat the Warriors even once, while 12 teams have beaten them one time. Four teams have beaten the Warriors twice and only the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies have beaten them thrice.

The Spurs, though, have managed to beat the Warriors five times, with Popovich leading his team to a 2-1 regular season series win over the Warriors during the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.

It’s safe to say that they have been the only team worthy of calling themselves anything near a worthy adversary to Stephen Curry and company.

At least, that was the case until Saturday night.

* * * * * *

With all due respect to Michael Jordan, if the Warriors win the NBA Finals this season, they can legitimately claim to be the best team in NBA history.

Two titles in three years is nothing to sneeze at, but the claim holds no weight whatsoever without ever having won two in a row, especially when scores of other teams have been able to accomplish the feat.

Aside from the two championships, the Warriors can claim the best regular season record in the league’s history and the distinction of being the only team to ever win 67 or more games for three consecutive seasons.

It is true that the Warriors have been almost invincible since the 2014-15 season, but things have changed now that Chris Paul has joined forces with James Harden.

This season, the Mike D’Antoni coached team ranks 12th in points allowed per 100 possessions, a marked improvement over last season’s rank of 18th.

With Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela, Luc Mbah a Moute, they have four defensive stalwarts, one of whom (Ariza) who wasn’t able to suit up due to being suspended.

At the end of the day, beating a team in the regular season doesn’t really count for much, especially when you consider the greatest irony: in each of the seasons the Spurs beat the Warriors in their season series, the Warriors won the NBA Finals. The obvious asterisk there is that the Warriors didn’t play the Spurs in the 2015 NBA Playoffs and only managed to sweep them once the Spurs lost Kawhi Leonard in 2017.

Still, beating the defending champs in any game, much less a season series, has got to feel good. Whether they want to admit it or not, Saturday’s game against the Warriors was one that the Rockets wanted to get, that’s probably why Mike D’Antoni opted to reinsert James Harden into the game after he surpassed his 30-minute playing restriction.

In the end, Harden logged 35 minutes and ended up making what was the game’s clinching three-pointer.

Poetic, indeed.

* * * * * *

With the season a little more than halfway over, the Warriors still appear to be head and shoulders above those competing for their throne. Of the other contenders, the Rockets and Boston Celtics, at least for now, appear most formidable.

At the end of the day, what the Warriors have to fear more than anything is their own arrogance. As a unit, the team believes that it’s the best at playing small ball and that no other team can beat them as their own game. While that may be true, there have been a few instances over the past few years where that belief has ended up costing them.

What the Warriors seem to struggle with is understanding that not every possession can be played the same way, and as some possessions become more and more valuable, it would be wise for the team to play more conservatively and traditionally.

For example, when the Cavaliers beat the Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving made one of the most incredible shots we’ve ever seen, but it was Stephen Curry who helped leave the door open for the Cavs with a pitiful final five minutes of the game.

Among the worst atrocities he committed was an ill-advised turnover that came as a result of an off target behind the back pass to Klay Thompson. In such a situation, any second grader could have and would have known that a simple bounce pass to the flashing Thompson would have sufficed.

Steve Kerr’s message to his team, though, is to play like themselves and not overthink their execution.

While that’s fair, it does at least leave room to wonder if the Warriors will have the humility to play conservatively when the game is on the line.

Curry himself admitted to playing too aggressively and making poor reads and decisions down the stretch versus the Rockets. The team passed up wide-open two-point shots for three-pointers that didn’t fall, and those botched opportunities played a direct role in causing the loss.

Fortunately, for the Warriors, not much was at stake, but their performance and decision-making in those tight minutes leave us to wonder what will happen if and when they find themselves in another tight moment or two…

And by virtue of the Rockets becoming just the second team to take a season series from the Warriors since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, we can also fairly wonder whether they truly have what it takes to take down the Golden Goliath.

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NBA

G-League Watch: 10-Day Contracts

David Yapkowitz looks at five potential G-League callups for 10-day contracts.

David Yapkowitz

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Since Jan. 10, NBA teams have been able to sign players from the G-League to ten-day contracts. A few have already been signed, such as DeAndre Liggins with the Milwaukee Bucks and Kyle Collinsworth with the Dallas Mavericks.

Once a ten-day contract expires, teams have the option of signing that player to another ten-day contract. After the second ten-day, teams must either sign the player for the remainder of the season or release that player.

Some players have used ten-day contracts to essentially jump-start their careers. Bruce Bowen was once a ten-day contract player before becoming a key piece of multiple championship teams in San Antonio. Famed New York Knicks enforcer Anthony Mason also got his first chance in the league off a ten-day contract.

With a few guys already being called up via ten-day as well as the NBA’s new two-way contracts, here’s a look at some of the remaining names who might be next in line.

1. Christian Wood

Christian Wood was once a highly touted prospect coming out of high school. He played two college seasons at UNLV before declaring for the NBA draft in 2015. Despite being projected to be drafted late in the first round or early second round, he did not hear his name called on draft night. He’s spent some time in the NBA since then, with the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets, but he currently plays for the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers G-League affiliate.

His 22.0 points per game are tied with James Young for top scorer on the team. He’s shooting 53.9 percent from the field, and he’s also displayed a nice outside touch for a big man at 35.2 percent from three-point range. He leads the team in rebounds at 9.6, as well as in blocked shots with 2.0. He’s very mobile and could certainly help a team as a stretch big man who can play defense and crash the glass.

2. Jameel Warney

Jameel Warney has been a candidate for an NBA call-up for quite some time. The former Stony Brook standout had a big summer with Team USA basketball. He was the tournament MVP of the 2017 FIBA Americup and was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year for 2017. He got as far as training camp/preseason with the Dallas Mavericks in 2016, and he’s currently playing for their G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

With the Legends, he’s fourth on the team in scoring with 19.4 points per game. He’s second on the team in rebounding with 10.4, and he’s tied with Johnathan Motley leading the team in blocked shots with 1.5. He’s shooting 52.5 percent from the field. What could be hindering his NBA chances is his lack of an outside shot, especially with the way the game is being played today. Nonetheless, he’s still one of the G-League’s top players and he deserves a shot in the big leagues.

3. Melo Trimble

After a solid three years at the University of Maryland, Melo Trimble was one of the best players not selected in this past summer’s draft. He played well for the 76ers’ summer league team in Las Vegas, which in turn earned him an invite to training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He ended up being one of their final cuts at the end of preseason, and he went on to join their G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves.

He’s third on the Wolves in scoring with 18.5 points per game. He’s shooting 44 percent from the field, and a decent 34 percent from beyond the arc. He’s also leading the team in assists per game with 5.7. He’s got the potential to be a decent backup point guard, and if he can get his shooting numbers, especially from three-point range, up a little bit, there’s no question he’s NBA caliber.

4. Joel Bolomboy

Joel Bolomboy is a name that should be familiar to Utah Jazz fans. He was drafted by the Jazz in 2016, and although relegated to mostly end of the bench duty, he showed a bit of potential and flash here and there. The Jazz cut him after a year, and he ended up in Milwaukee before they too cut him to make room for Sean Kilpatrick. He’s currently playing for the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks G-League affiliate.

At the recent G-League Showcase that took place from Jan. 10-13, Bolomboy had one of the best performances of the event. In the two games played, he averaged 25.5 points per game on 73 percent shooting from the field and 13.0 rebounds. He was named to the All-Showcase First Team. He’s had eight double-doubles so far in the G-League this season. He’s already gotten his feet wet in the NBA, and if he continues putting up similar production, it won’t be long before he finds himself back on an NBA roster.

5. Jeremy Evans

Jeremy Evans is a name that should be somewhat familiar to NBA fans. He’s spent six years in the league with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. He also participated in two dunk contests in 2012 and 2013. Unfortunately for him, dunking was probably the one thing he was known for. It might be why he found himself out of the league after only six years.

With the Erie Bay Hawks, the Atlanta Hawks G-League affiliate, his 15.9 points per game are good enough for fourth on the team. His 62.3 percent shooting from the field is a team-high, as is his 10.3 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks. Not known as a shooter during his time in the NBA, he’s only shooting 25.6 percent from three-point range in the G-League. If he can get his outside shooting percentages up, he has a shot at getting an NBA call-up and keeping that spot permanently.

Although there’s no guarantee that any of these guys get NBA call-ups on ten-day contracts, they have some of the best shots out of anyone in the G-League. Don’t be surprised if, by the end of the season, all of these guys finish it out on an NBA roster.

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