2017-2018 NBA G-League Update: First Month’s Progress
With a month of NBA G-League action in the books, there are a handful of teams that look poised to have a great season and possibly make a title run. There are also a few teams that might be looking to change their strategy going forward if they want to salvage their season. Lets start with the top three teams in the league so far:
1. Fort Wayne Mad Ants
They are the best team in the Eastern Conference and the second best team in the G-League with a record of 10-4 to start the year. CJ Fair has been one of the most consistent players for the Mad Ants, but after the return of forward Alex Poythress and the addition of potential star guard Walter Lemon Jr., they can be an unstoppable force. All that would stop them is if Poythress and/or Lemon Jr. are called up to the Indiana Pacers for extended periods of time.
2. Rio Grande Valley Vipers
As one of the best team in the Western Conference and the league at 13-3, they are a force to be reckoned with. After starting the season with three losses, they have been on a 13 game winning streak. Danuel House, the forward out of Texas A&M, has been their best player offensively by far. At the same time, RJ Hunter, the highly touted guard from Georgia State, is becoming one of the best offensive guards in the league and I would not be surprised if he was called up sooner rather than later.
3. South Bay Lakers
South Bay has a 10-2 record and if they continue to get better, they could supplant the Valley Vipers as the best team in the Western Conference. Thomas Bryant, their extremely talented power forward out of Indiana, has lead the charge to greatness despite typically playing center in the starting rotation. Guards Alex Caruso and Scott Machado have also been very valuable as they provide much needed offense from the perimeter. However, if Bryant gets called back to the Los Angeles Lakers, their record could suffer.
As those three teams are almost destined for a playoff run, here are three teams that I believe are far from it at the moment:
1. Delaware 87ers
Usually teams that have a lot of young talent called up to their NBA affiliate drains the G-League team, and this might be one of those cases. Christian Wood, the power forward out of UNLV, has carried them most nights so far. Their new 76ers assignee Kurkan Korkmaz, the small forward from Turkey, has been helpful to Wood, but he is still trying to build chemistry with the rest of the team. The 87ers are currently 3-11.
2. Salt Lake City Stars
The Stars are a new team to the NBA G-League, so they get somewhat of a pass with their 3-11 start. They are still building and figuring out how they want to utilize the talent they have acquired. Nate Wolters leads the team as an efficient point guard, while Eric Griffin continues to show progress in his development. Recently added center Tony Bradley has performed well in his short time with the team, almost to the point where they can’t win without him.
3. Raptors 905
Despite having such an excellent start after joining the G-League, they are struggling this year. At a record of 4-9 so far, the 905 have to get their offense on track. Bruno Caboclo has been their saving grace, but even he is not performing at his usual quality every game. The huge amount of roster turnover could be an overwhelming issue, but Caboclo is definitely their best player. They have to either play through him or revolve the offense around him.
By Joshua Hamer