When the 2019-20 NBA season was abruptly halted last month, the G League season was as well. Before that, there were quite a few G League players that were seemingly knocking on the door of the NBA. With the introduction of the two-way contract, essentially giving NBA teams two extra roster spots in addition to the standard 15, more and more G League players have gotten an opportunity to prove themselves on the NBA stage.
The G League has really moved toward a legit farm system for the NBA and nearly every franchise owns their own affiliate these days. G League players are constantly around NBA personnel and have more opportunities than ever before to earn an official call-up.
Here’s a look at some of the G League players who were right on the cusp of getting a first shot or another opportunity in the NBA.
Pierre Jackson, South Bay Lakers
Jackson’s NBA career has been pretty short-lived and marred by injuries. He was drafted back in 2013, but he didn’t actually set foot in an NBA regular-season game until 2017 with the Dallas Mavericks. An Achilles injury cost him his first shot with the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2014. His pro career has spanned the G League, Turkey, Croatia, Israel and China.
This season he returned to the G League with the South Bay Lakers, the affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers. He played very well for them, earning a spot in the starting lineup and scoring a season-high 38 points in late February. He’s an instant offense off the bench type of guard who can also see the floor and facilitate. He played well for Dallas in 2017 before he was cut due to a hamstring injury.
Isaiah Canaan, Stockton Kings
Canaan has several years of NBA experience, most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks in 2019. Throughout his career, he’s been solid as a backup point guard that can steady the second unit and play good defense. During the 2017-18 season, he was playing well as the starting point guard for the Suns before he was surprisingly cut.
He returned from China back in the fall and joined the Stockton Kings, the affiliate of the Sacramento Kings. Since arriving in the G League, he’s been one of the league’s most efficient guards and he had strong performances at the G League Winter Showcase in December. He’s got a lot in the tank and can surely help some teams needing a floor leader to lead the second unit.
Dusty Hannahs, Memphis Hustle
Simply put: Hannahs has consistently been one of the best shooters in the G League. His range is unlimited, he’s a threat to score from anywhere on the court. He isn’t just a shooter though, he’s a smart, crafty scorer who can handle the ball and do a little playmaking as well. He’s been playing in the G League for the duration of his pro basketball career.
He’s gotten a couple of different 10-day contract opportunities with the Memphis Grizzlies, one during last season and another during this campaign. This season, he managed to earn a second 10-day contract but was cut before the contract ran out. He’s been playing the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate. For a team needing a backup guard that will shoot the lights out, Hannahs is your man.
Justin Anderson, Long Island Nets
Anderson also has a few years of NBA experience with the Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets. He went into last offseason as an unrestricted free agent, signed with the Washington Wizards in training camp and was cut before the start of the season. Throughout his career, he’s been a glue guy. He’s the player who does all the little things that don’t show up in a box score.
This season, he’s split time in the NBA in Brooklyn and in the G League with the Long Island Nets and the Raptors 905. He had a 48 point game back in February and he’s averaged around 20 points a game this season while showing a solid touch from the three-point line (37 percent). He won’t replicate those scoring numbers in the NBA, but every team could use a utility player that is willing to play defense, dive on the floor for loose balls, crash the glass and knock down the open three.
Ivan Rabb, Westchester Knicks
Rabb was a second-round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2017, but he played sparingly and spent most of his time with their G League affiliate, the Hustle. The Grizzlies ended up cutting him after two seasons. This past offseason, he signed a two-way contract with the New York Knicks and spent a good portion of the season with their G League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks.
New York cut Rabb in January and he ended up rejoining Westchester full-time. While in the G League, Rabb has turned into a rebounding machine. He’s polished his offensive game as well and is a legit double-double threat. He’s long and athletic with loads of defensive potential. He’s in a similar mold to his former Westchester teammate Kenny Wooten who, ironically, he was cut for back in January.
Donta Hall, Grand Rapids Drive
Hall was in an interesting predicament. He was originally signed to a 10-day contract with the Detroit Pistons back in February after playing with the Pistons’ G League affiliate in Grand Rapids. The Pistons signed him to a second 10-day and it was set to expire just as the NBA halted the season. There’s no telling if Detroit would’ve signed him for the remainder of the year.
In any case, Hall has done enough in the G League to prove he has an NBA future. He’s a rim-running big man who plays with a ton of energy. He’s a defensive standout and strong rebounder. Hall is very active around the rim and he finishes strong. For any team in need of an energetic big who can finish and block a couple shots, Hall is the answer.
Honorable mentions: Lamar Peters (Westchester Knicks); Tyler Ennis (Raptors 905); Jaylen Adams (Wisconsin Herd); Walt Lemon Jr. (Fort Wayne Mad Ants); James Palmer Jr. (Agua Caliente Clippers).
While the NBA is in exploratory and very preliminary talks on possibly salvaging the season, there is no word on what will happen with the G League. The G League regular season would have ended in mid-March and playoffs would have been over by mid-April to coincide with the start of the NBA playoffs. In any event, these players have done enough to warrant an NBA opportunity, whenever that may come.
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