The G League bubble wraps up this week, with the playoffs underway and the championship game scheduled for March 11. The NBA, meanwhile, is ready to pick back up after the All-Star break and, with the trade deadline a couple of weeks away and teams finalizing their rosters for playoff pushes or second-half development, there could be some G League players on NBA radars.
From young players looking for their first shot in the league to older veterans hoping for one more NBA contract, the G League has become a league where players can garner some serious recognition. But who might be the next player to make the leap to the NBA?
Alize Johnson – Raptors 905
The Raptors 905 have been one of the top teams in the G League the past couple of years and that’s no surprise given that their parent team the Toronto Raptors are one of the best-managed teams in the NBA. Johnson is no stranger to the NBA, either, as he played two years with the Indiana Pacers before landing in the G League this season.
Behind a very strong performance in the bubble, Johnson has popped up on the radar of several NBA teams. He’s an athletic wing who has put up 16.6 points per game, 13.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists. While didn’t play much with the Pacers, it would seem that he’s used his time since to significantly improve his game, particularly his playmaking ability. It’s almost a given that he’ll be on an NBA roster once the G League bubble ends.
Kenny Wooten Jr – Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Wooten was a rookie with the New York Knicks last season on a two-way contract, but he never saw any game action and they cut him before the start of this season. In camp with the Houston Rockets, Wooten joined their G League affiliate in Rio Grande when he was cut.
While Wooten’s scoring numbers might not jump out of the boxscore, he can rebound and defend with the best of them. His shooting might be what’s kept him from getting an NBA roster spot to this point, but that he’s improved in that area and would continue to were he to sign with the NBA team. Although not as big, Wooten fits a similar mold to that of Donta Hall, who recently received a call-up.
Tyrone Wallace – Agua Caliente Clippers
Wallace is another player with some brief NBA experience with the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers. Four years removed from his rookie season, Wallance played pretty solid when given the opportunity.
He’s also another player whose outside shooting has likely held him back from a consistent role at the NBA-level — his three-point percentage in the bubble is just 28.6 percent. That said, Wallace has stood out in almost every other aspect, from his scoring (16.6 points), rebounding (6.3 rebounds), playmaking (3.3 assists) and defense (1.5 steals). He still has a good chance at being called up this year, but a consistent three-point shot is would solidify a spot for him in the NBA.
Oshae Brissett – Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Brissett was a rookie with the Toronto Raptors on a two-way contract last season. Before training camp, his deal converted to a standard NBA contract, but he ended up being cut after a strong preseason from Yuta Watanabe.
Now, in the bubble, he’s looked much improved on the outside, shooting 33.3 percent from deep after knocking down just 28.9 percent of his shots last season. While that could improve further still, it bodes well for his shot at a roster spot that he’s touched up his efficiency. One of the bubble’s leading scorers at 18.6 points per game, Brissett has the size and tools to be a strong rebounding and defending small forward at the next level as well.
Jeremy Lin – Santa Cruz Warriors
Lin got his NBA start with the Golden State Warriors 11 years ago. Now, closer to the tail end of his career, he’s looking for one more NBA opportunity via their G League team. Lin briefly left the league to play in China last season, but returned this year to pursue perhaps his last NBA contract.
One of the best playmakers in the bubble, Lin dished out 6.4 assists per game before the Warriors were eliminated. That’s what he can contribute to an NBA team, being able to run a team’s second unit with efficiency. Speaking of efficiency, he showed that on the offensive end with 19.8 points and shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from the three-point line. He’s more experienced than a lot of players in the G League and wouldn’t be a bad option for a team in need of a veteran floor leader.
The G League has grown in talent every season for a while now and it’s no longer viewed so much as a demotion or punishment for young NBA players. Rookies and second-year players can use the league as a way to get experience with game situations until ready to join their NBA team’s regular rotation.
Unlike when the league first came into existence, the current G League is a good place for NBA hopefuls to sharpen their skills and showcase their game to front offices, proving that they are ready for an NBA call-up.
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