3 G League Players To Keep An Eye On

(Image credit – Tomek Kordylewski)

By Matt Esposito

Today’s article comes inspired by Matt Evans; a British hoops fan who runs an excellent website dedicated to covering G League prospects. With his guidance, I was able to identify three G League prospects who could be actualizing their NBA dreams sooner rather than later. Let’s jump right into it and when you’re done here, take a trp to Matt’s site (NBAcallups.com)

Johnathan Motley – Agua Caliente Clippers

Besides that first “h” in his name, what sticks out when scouting Motley? His efficiency in the paint is outstanding and the prime reason he has averaged 23.4 points per game throughout 87 career G League contests.

Coming out of Baylor, Motley – who has had a couple cups of coffee in the Association already – was known for his touch around the rim. What’s more, the 6-foot-9 big has the agility and developing handle to get there. In spite of this efficiency, however, he has not been able to find a consistent spot on an NBA bench. General managers can find other productive bigs who are not as much as a defensive liability that Motley is.

This could be why Motley has started to alter his game. Sensing his window for a meaning NBA career could be coming to a close, Motley has switched up his offensive repertoire. Specifically, his 3-point shot has gotten better and is supported by an increasing free throw percentage. Plus, Motley has expanded his game to be able to create for himself off of the dribble and either drive to the rim or hit iso jumpers. Transitioning from operating out of the post to maneuvering from the perimeter could lead to extended NBA minutes.

Courtesy of Basketball-reference.com

Motley could be hoping to woo his Los Angeles affiliate by showcasing his expanded arsenal. Deploying a 7-foot-4 wingspan to protect the paint while simultaneously boosting bench scoring through modern means is a good way to make a roster. Watch the clips below to see Motley drain step back jumpers, euro his way to the hoop, and pump-n-go to create high percentage chances.

Tremont Waters – Maine Red Claws

Sometimes, when there are better, more knowledgeable reporters out there, it is best to let them do the talking. Earlier this year, Keith Smith of CelticsBlog (among other publications) summarized Waters’ pro potential nicely.

So, what makes Waters so appealing to rival GMs? Despite standing under 6-feet, his ability to create for others and play spectacular individual defense is pro ready. His contract is also a major value.

With a league more talented than ever before, we often forget there is a premium on guards who can run an offense and defend their counterparts. Waters’ handle, creativity and vision allow him to accomplish the former, while his footspeed, active hands and IQ help him perform the latter.

Need proof? Here’s Tremont dogging Trae Young with full court defense and picking his pocket before scoring on the break. How many guards would risk challenging Young that far from help defense?

Offensively, Waters’ yo-yo type handle pairs perfectly with his elite vision. After he weaves his way through defenders, teammates are often wowed with imaginative passes. His ability to see one play ahead cannot be overstated and the execution is right on par with the game’s best facilitators.

Tremont should be a fixture in Boston’s regular rotation next year. In fact, he may play Carsen Edwards out of town. Or, Waters stock has risen so high that he could be packaged with younger assets to bring one more star into Beantown as they prep for a title run. There is another young guard to monitor, however.

Jalen Lecque – Northern Arizona Suns

Running the eye test on Jalen Lecque brings mixed results. His explosiveness is not only reminiscent of a young Russell Westbrook but, it is arguably more impressive. With cartoonish hops, a strong 6-foot-4 frame and 6-foot-8 wingspan, Lecque’s physical profile is too special to ignore.

Still, Lecque is lacking in functional skills. His 3-point shot has not come around as of yet. As a playmaker, Lecque has not shown much acumen. His defensive potential is evident but his impact comes and goes. The analyst in me is not too keen on his translatable NBA skill set.

Regardless, his athleticism is so special that his talent level may not need to be as advanced as once thought. Lecque is an absolute terror once he gains a head of steam after gaining an edge. I’m not sure any guard in the league would even attempt the dunk he does in this next clip.

When Lecque harnesses his athleticism and uses it properly, he makes plays that the vast majority of guards cannot. He turns contested shots into dunks and creates scoring chances that other guards would not think possible. Additionally, Lecque has added some wiggle to his game, although his handle still needs work. The film below demonstrates these points.

Lecque will assuredly be a long term project for Phoenix. Yet, they have him on a four year deal. As a 21.4 percent 3-point shooter who only hits 60.3 percent of his free throws, the future does not look to bright for his perimeter game. But if Lecque can approach league average from deep and progress as a playmaker for others, he could carve out a role as a microwave scorer off of the bench.

Published by Matt Esposito

Founder/Writer for Theplaygrounder.com and contributor to Red’s Army Twitter: @Mattesposito_

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