Welcome everyone to the first post in the ’10-Day’ series. What this is is that every 10 days, I will be posting NBA G-League content. Whether it is news, opinions, lists or recaps from the season, you will be able to find it here.
In the first year as the newly named NBA G-League, we have seen 60 total call-ups from 50 different players, the most in the history of the league!
The NBA G-League is a great platform for players, from former college prospects to veterans looking for one more comeback in the big leagues. Often times, teams look down in the minors and call-up a player that can potentially contribute to the team right away. Here is the list of my top 10 call-ups during the 2017-2018 season, based on the player’s success this season and what it could mean for them going forward.
*Note – This list consists of players that signed a 10-day deal and not the newly formed two-way contracts, which will be saved for another list.
10. Kyle Collinsworth, Dallas Mavericks
- G-League affiliate: Texas Legends
- Call-up date: January 13th, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 3.2 points, 3.4 rebounds & 1.8 assists
Collinsworth went undrafted in 2016 and joined the Mavericks on a two-way deal before being released from his contract. He did, however, come back to Dallas on a couple of 10-day deals before signing for the rest of the year. Towards the end of January, he earned time in the rotation with his ability to find open teammates.
No, he didn’t light up the box scores like some players have done on this list at one point or another, but he was a steady rotational guy for the rebuilding Mavericks. Sometimes, you don’t need to be a light-up scorer to earn a roster spot.
9. Aaron Harrison, Dallas Mavericks
- G-League affiliate: Reno Bighorns
- Call-up date: March 22nd, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 6.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists & 1.o steals
After going undrafted in 2015, Harrison spent two years with the Charlotte Hornets before being waived in 2017. Since then, he suited up for the Greensboro Swarm, Delaware 87ers, and the Reno Bighorns before signing with Dallas on a 10-day deal.
After playing four games in his contract, the Mavericks signed him for the rest of the season, even earning a couple of starts with Dallas. Harrison is a tall 6’6″ point guard that is capable of scoring. This was a nice audition for him as he tries to latch on with Dallas for the 2018-2019 season. With the influx of young talent, Harrison has a decent shot to stay with the team for the foreseeable future.
8. Isaiah Canaan, Phoenix Suns
- G-League affiliate: Northern Arizona Suns
- Call-up date: December 12th, 2017
- ’17-’18 season stats: 9.1 points, 2.3 rebounds & 4.0 assists
Isaiah Canaan was a journeyman in the NBA. After being waived by the Thunder in the preseason, he joined the Suns affiliate was actually signed as an injury exception due to the Suns having many injuries on the roster. He immediately made an impact, scoring 17 and 15 points respectively in his first two games with Phoenix. His play earned him a full season deal on December 23rd.
Unfortunately, Canaan suffered a severe ankle injury that caused him to miss the rest of the year. He was waived by the Suns, but the team allowed him to use the facilities to rehab his injury. It was a short stint, but Canaan took advantage of the opportunity, even if it ended so early. I will definitely be rooting for him and his short impact will earn him an invite back to a training camp as he showed he can play at an NBA level.
7. Rodney Purvis, Orlando Magic
- G-League affiliate: Lakeland Magic
- Call-up date: March 8th, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 6.0 points, 1.7 rebounds & 1.1 assists
Purvis went undrafted in 2017 and joined the Magic roster during the preseason. After averaging 20 points in the G-League, he got the call from Orlando and did not look back.
Purvis came in a contributed right away, including a 19 point performance on 8 for 12 shooting in his 7th career game. In a team that was lacking star power, Purvis was able to give the team a nice boost in his short stint in Orlando. He has a decent shot to be back on Orlando’s roster next season
6. Shaquille Harrison, Phoenix Suns
- G-League affiliate: Northern Arizona Suns
- Call-up date: February 21st, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 6.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists & 1.1 steals
Phoenix made many transactions this season and Shaquille Harrison was one of the ones that stuck around. After Canaan was waived, Harrison was the next call-up for the Suns. The former Tulsa guard signed a pair of 10-day deals before signing for the rest of the season.
His play on the defensive end helped him earn playing time over Tyler Ulis for the Suns backup job and could potentially be in the mix for a roster spot next season also.
5. Andre Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers
- G-League affiliate: South Bay Lakers
- Call-up date: April 9th, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 12.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals & 1.5 blocks
It was for only two games, but what a story this was. Andre Ingram went undrafted in the 2007 draft and had stints with the Utah Flash, Los Angeles D-Fenders and even a short stint in Australia.
After spending the entire year with the newly named South Bay Lakers, the parent-club Laker decided to call-up Ingram for the final two games of the regular season. He made his NBA debut the next night and dropped 19 points and quickly became a fan favorite all over social media, even making ESPN appearances once the season was over.
His immediate was awesome to watch, knowing that he worked over a decade to have his NBA moment. If this call-up happened earlier in the season, who knows what kind of extended season Ingram would have had for Los Angeles. Regardless if he is in the long-term plan for the Lakers or not, Andre Ingram showed that if you keep working, one day you will get your shot.
4. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
- G-League affiliate: Wisconsin Herd
- Call-up date: March 11th, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 5.2 points, 2.2 rebounds & 3. assists
After five years, Brandon Jennings found his way back to the team that originally drafted him. Since leaving Milwaukee in 2013, Jennings was not the same player we saw. We did see it a bit in Detroit, but his times with Orlando, New York and Washington were sort of forgettable. After not finding a team in the 2017 offseason, Jennings went to China and was released after 13 games. He came back to the states to play for the Wisconsin Herd and was eventually called up to the place he called home in 2010.
Jennings did well in his return, having a near triple-double in his debut with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 12 assists. He may have only played in 14 games this season, but Jennings was able to show that he does have some productive years left in the league.
3. Emeka Okafor, New Orleans Pelicans
- G-League affiliate: Delaware 87ers
- Call-up date: February 3rd, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 4.4 points, 4.6 rebounds & 1.0 blocks
The last time Emeka Okafor played in an NBA game was with the Washington Wizards during the 2012-2013 season. The former 2005 Rookie of the Year had a herniated disc in his neck that most believed would be a career ender. Last season, however, he was medically cleared to play and join the 76ers in the 2017 preseason before being sent down to the minors.
An injury to DeMarcus Cousins led to New Orleans signing Okafor to provide depth at the center position and that is what he has down for the Pelicans this season. At 35 years old, his best days might be behind him, but give the man credit for making a comeback most people thought was impossible.
2. Damion Lee, Atlanta Hawks
- G-League affiliate: Santa Cruz Warriors
- Call-up date: March 13th, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists & 1.3 steals
Damion Lee went undrafted in the 2016 draft and spent the last seasons with the Maine Red Claws and the Santa Cruz Warriors respectively. His impressive two-year run in the minors earned him two separate 10-day deals with the Hawks before signing for the rest of the year.
He immediately joined the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks squad and did not look bad, playing in 15 games, starting 11 of those and averaging over 25 minutes a game. Lee was able to take advantage of his extensive playtime with a team looking for talent and starting fresh. He will be a free agent this summer but don’t be surprised if Atlanta tries to bring him back for next year.
1. Trey Burke, New York Knicks
- G-League affiliate: Westchester Knicks
- Call-up date: April 14th, 2018
- ’17-’18 season stats: 12.8 points, 2.0 rebounds & 4.7 assists
It was not long ago that Trey Burke was considered one of the best players heading into the 2013 NBA Draft after a successful career at Michigan. Burke was decent in his first two years in Utah, but fell out of the lineup by year three and played sparingly with this Wizards in his fourth year.
Joining the Knicks affiliate Westchester at the beginning of this season, Burke dominated from the start, averaging 26.6 points, including scoring 43 points in his second game. This led to an eventual call-up to the Knicks and became a valuable role player this season, going back to his scoring days we saw when he was taken in the top 10 in 2013. Not only that, he became a decent ball handler and improved his passing ability as the season progressed. Burke will look to continue that success heading into next season. Trey Burke is another example of how the G-League can save a players career.