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Candidates for Midseason NBA Looks

David Yapkowitz looks at some top candidates for two-way or 10-day contracts.

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We’re almost to the end of the year and come January, there are a few key dates to remember regarding NBA roster moves. On Jan. 5, teams can begin to sign players to ten-day contracts. Jan. 10 is the date when all contracts become guaranteed. And lastly, Jan. 15 is the final day teams can sign players to a two-way contract.

It’s probably safe to say that there will be a few roster moves in the coming weeks as teams look to improve their team for the second half of the season. With that said, there are a few players currently in the G-League that have done enough to warrant an NBA look as teams shuffle their rosters. Don’t be surprised to see some of these guys in the near future on a ten-day contract or two-way contract.

1. Trey Burke

Trey Burke is a name that should be familiar to NBA fans. He was a lottery pick for the Utah Jazz in the 2013 draft. After an impressive two years at Michigan, including a trip to the NCAA championship game in 2013, Burke failed to make a big splash in the NBA. He actually had a solid rookie season in which he averaged 12.8 points per game and 5.7 assists while starting 68 games.

But after that, he never became the star some expected him to be. Utah traded him to the Washington Wizards in the 2016 offseason, where he was supposed to be the backup for John Wall the team had been looking for. Instead, he was supplanted by Brandon Jennings. The Wizards declined to make him a qualifying offer and he became a free agent.

While he signed with the New York Knicks this past summer, it was simply so they could cut him and retain his rights to play for their G-League affiliate the Westchester Knicks. In 20 games so far, he’s definitely showing the desire to get back to the NBA. He’s third in the G-League in scoring with 26.6 points per game. He’s shooting 50 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from three. He’s also dishing out 5.7 assists.

2. Amile Jefferson

Amile Jefferson had a good college career. He stayed all four years at Duke and was a captain on the 2015 championship team. Despite that, he went undrafted this past summer. He played for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ summer league team in Las Vegas and was impressive enough to warrant an invite to training camp.

Like Burke, Jefferson was one of the Wolves’ final cuts prior to the start of the season. It enabled the Wolves to keep his rights for their affiliate, the Iowa Wolves. In the 14 games he’s played this season, he’s emerged as one of the best big men in the G-League. He’s the league’s leading rebounder at 12.9 per game. He’s also scoring 16.5 points per game on 61 percent shooting from the field.

3. Scott Machado

Scott Machado is another player who has had a cup of NBA coffee. He was a star at Iona and after going undrafted in the 2012 draft, he joined the Houston Rockets after a strong summer league showing. He split time between the Rockets and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, but the Rockets cut him in Jan. 2013. The Warriors then signed him that April, but they cut him that offseason. He’s bounced around overseas the past few years before landing with the South Bay Lakers this season.

In the 18 games he’s played with the South Bay Lakers, he’s been their top playmaker with 7.8 assists per game. He’s also been one of their top scorers at 16.4 points per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from the three-point line.

4. Justin Dentmon

Since graduating from Washington in 2009, Justin Dentmon has had stops in China, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Venezuela, the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, and San Antonio Spurs. He’s had two separate stints with the Austin Toros of the G-League. Now, he’s on his second go-round with the Texas Legends.

At age 32, he’s one of the older guys in the G-League, but he’s also one of the best. He’s second in the league in scoring at 29.3 points per game. He’s shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from the three-point line. He’s also pulling down 3.2 rebounds, dishing out 4.1 assists, and racking up 2.5 steals per game. He recently had 45 points, albeit in a loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

5. Jameel Warney

Jameel Warney was one of the top players on Team USA during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers last month. He helped lead the team to a 2-0 record with 11.5 points per game shooting 57.9 percent from the field, and 8.0 rebounds. He was recently named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. After going undrafted out of Stony Brook in 2016, he was invited to training camp with the Dallas Mavericks only to be cut right before the season started.

He found himself in a similar predicament this season when the Mavericks once again brought him to camp only to cut him right as the season began. He’s played the past two season with the Texas Legends, Dallas’ G-League affiliate. A bit undersized as a forward, he’s still been highly productive this season. He’s third in the league in rebounding with 10.1 a night. He’s putting up 19.9 points per game on 55.3 percent shooting. He’s also blocking 1.5 shots per game.

Nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to the NBA, but these guys are making a strong case to be on an NBA roster by mid-January. Whether it’s on a ten-day contract or one of the new two-way contracts, look for a few of these guys to get a call-up to the big league sometime soon.

David Yapkowitz has been a staff writer for Basketball Insiders since 2017. Based in Los Angeles, he focuses on the Pacific Division as well as the NBA at large.

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