Bright lights reveal who’s got game
G League Showcase, which begins today in Mississauga, can be a player’s big break
It is a festival of basketball, with 26 games spread over four days in two different facilities, and the busiest people at the G League Showcase at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre this week will be the various NBA general managers and scouting directors trying to find roster help.
While having the league grow to 26 teams — each will play twice between Wednesday and Saturday — was fine for the business side, it is creating a bit more work for the scouts for whom the event is set up.
“In the past, when it was fewer teams, you could kind of sit in one seat and just hunker down for four days and see everybody a handful of times. It’s kind of lost a little bit of its lustre in that regard just because there’s more teams, there’s more players,” Raptors 905 general manager Dan Tolzman said. “But that’s kind of a positive sign of where this event is going and the league is in general. It’s growing, it’s becoming more of a larger-scale event to where it’s not quite the scouting event it used to be but, at the same time, with all the single affiliations that every team has and the closer focus you kind of put on the G League over the season, it’s not quite as necessary for it to be the same level as a scouting event.”
The four-day tournament is a must-see for each of the NBA’s 30 teams. There will be players on twoway contracts who might be kept in mind for Summer League or 2019 training camp invitations, there will be unaffiliated players who might garner 10-day NBA deals later in the season.
“The two-way players are under contract with another team already, the assignment players that are down there are under contract with another team already, so it’s taken a little bit of those players away in terms of who you’re tracking and thinking about for this season,” Tolzman said. “At the same time, a lot of two-ways and those type of players are on single-year deals, so it’s like who stands out to where maybe (you look at them) this summer, whether it’s summer league or (to) sign them as a free agent for next year on the NBA level. There’s that form of scouting now, look at guys more as down the road versus instant callups next week or anything.”
And down the road, anything could happen. David Nwaba of the Chicago Bulls turned an impressive 2017 showcase into a Lakers call-up and now a fully guaranteed deal in Chicago. Quinn Cook has a two-way deal with Golden State after a solid 2017 event got him multiple NBA call-ups. Josh Maggette is a two-way player with the Atlanta Hawks after showing well in Mississauga a year ago.
“The G League lights are bright but they’re not any brighter than at the Showcase,” Tolzman said. “That’s the time there are so many NBA eyes in the crowd and there’s a little bit more of a magnifying glass on it. The event is designed to have NBA personnel there scouting and, from a player’s standpoint, that’s got to add a little bit of juice to what you’re doing.” The Raptors 905 play at noon Thursday against Santa Cruz and Saturday at noon against Sioux Falls.