When NBA teams decide that it is time to shake things up and have some new faces take the court, it is common to instantly explore potential trades and possible free-agent signings. But in recent years, the NBA has taken an approach similar to Major League Baseball by expanding its development league, the NBA Gatorade League. Typically referred to as the G League, each of the 28 teams is owned by or affiliated with an NBA franchise.
The Washington Wizards have benefitted from their G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. Two-way players Johnathan Williams and Garrison Matthews have received ample playing time in the NBA. On Dec. 23, 2019, Washington picked up Gary Payton II from the South Bay Lakers. Payton II had a very brief stint in D.C. last season and has been a solid pickup for the Wizards. In fact, he has started 14 of his first 17 games and scored in double figures five times. Latvian center Anzejs Pasecniks began the season as a two-way player and has now been signed to a multiyear contract.
Despite Bradley Beal (28.1 points per game, 6.3 assists per game) being in consideration for an invitation to the NBA All-Star Game once again, Washington (15-30) still finds itself having only won a third of its games this year. However, the Wizards are still just four games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As the All-Star break looms, there are numerous players in the G League who can help them make a playoff run.
Just as MLB teams have done for decades, Washington can take a look at its own G League team and see who could elevate their game to the NBA level. The Go-Go (14-15, 13-12 in conference) are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and have various players having quality seasons.
Jalen Jones, Small Forward
A coaches’ All-SEC first team recipient at Texas A&M in 2016, the 6-foot-7-inch small forward was signed by Washington on Oct. 16, 2019, before being waived and added to the Go-Go. Jones is averaging 19.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. One of his best performances was when he dropped 30 points in the Go-Go’s win over the Grand Rapids Drive on Nov. 9. With Jordan McRae spraining his ankle during Sunday’s game against the Hawks, Jones could be a possible addition should McRae have to miss an extended period of time.
Jerian Grant, Guard
An alumnus of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., and the University of Notre Dame, the original 2015 Wizards first-round pick has had a stellar season for the Go-Go. The former New York Knick is averaging 16.7 points per game and has put together multiple double-doubles. Grant also has several years of NBA experience. Already knowing how to play at that level could make him an asset for a roster that already features a lot of inexperienced players.
Jalen Hudson, Guard/Forward
While Jones and Grant both have NBA experience, the former Virginia Tech Hokie and Florida Gator is a rookie who has yet to make an appearance in The Association. Hudson is averaging 13.7 points per game for the Go-Go thus far. He is an alumnus of St. Vincent—St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. If you’re not sure why that name is familiar to you, it is the same high school that produced Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
Around the G League
Isaiah Canaan, Guard, Stockton Kings
The 2013 second-round pick out of Murray State is in the upper echelon of G League scorers, averaging 22.2 points per game. He has also reached more than 20 points in 10 of the 16 games that he has played in. The Sacramento Kings do not have him on a two-way contract with Stockton. Accordingly, the Wizards could look into signing him as a player to complement (or even replace) Isaiah Thomas at the point guard position.
He has already suited up for a handful of NBA teams, including the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. His NBA experience could help him become a mentor for the younger and inexperienced Wizards players like Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield.
Dusty Hannahs, Guard, Memphis Hustle
The son of a former professional baseball player who nicknamed him after manager Dusty Baker, Hannahs spent several seasons with the Hustle before briefly playing for the Grizzlies at the end of the 2018-2019 season. He is averaging 21.7 points per game and is among the best scorers in the G League. Similar to Canaan, he is someone who the Wizards could target as he is not on a two-way contract.
Christ Koudmadje, Center, Delaware Blue Coats
The 7-foot-4-inch Chadian big man could be a great fit for Washington down low. He attended high school in the U.S. at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. While there, he played with Philadelphia 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons. The un-drafted rim protector played four years at Florida State University and averaged about a block-and-a-half per game. He is already among the top rebounders in the G League, averaging 10.1 rebounds per game.
Koumadje will usually pick up some points in the paint as well, as he is averaging 10.8 points per game. On Jan. 4, 2020, he notched a triple-double against the Long Island Nets. He scored 12 points, blocked 10 shots, and snagged 16 rebounds. The Philadelphia 76ers do not have him on a two-way contract, so he could become a good pickup for the Wizards’ front-court. At age 23, the Wizards may have to be patient and help him develop but it could be well worth the effort.
Luke Maye, Forward, Wisconsin Herd
College basketball fans may recall someone on North Carolina hitting a game-winning shot to defeat Kansas and send the team to the Final Four in 2017. That was Wisconsin Herd forward Luke Maye, who graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2019 and has spent this season with the Milwaukee Bucks’ G League affiliate.
He has been averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game with the Herd, who lead the G League with a 23-5 record. Just like the aforementioned players, Maye is only on the roster for the Herd this year, so it would be easier for Washington to pick him up. He could be a decent addition to the Wizards front-court.
With the Wizards trying to make a playoff push in the Eastern Conference and the Feb. 6 trade deadline looming, they could take a look at these aforementioned G League players. If the team ends up with an open roster spot, Washington shoulder consider continuing to use the G League to its advantage. We will have to wait and see if the Wizards decide to call anyone up to the big leagues.