6 Eye-Catching Prospects From the 2022 NBA G-League Winter Showcase
The four-day NBA G League Winter Showcase concluded on Thursday, bringing together a vast array of team executives and front office personnel. Annually, the event acts as a proving ground for G League prospects, a testing ground for new rules (this year, the league experimented with a fourth-quarter, target-score rule), and a gathering place for teams to discuss trades as well as other business.
In the context of the 2023 draft, the major attraction at the Showcase was G League Ignite, who were without Scoot Henderson on Tuesday (he is nearing a recovery after a concussion and nose injury suffered in late November). The other notable draft-eligible player was NBA Academy Africa guard Thierry Serge Darlan, who had abundant opportunity to showcase himself to teams this week between two Academy scrimmages and games against prep school teams at the neighboring Tarkanian Classic.
Tuesday’s absence of Henderson was disappointing, but the game presented a helpful evaluation benchmark for the Ignite’s prospects. With that being said, here are my key observations from the past few days of watching the showcase.
Leonard Miller, F
Based on what we’ve seen thus far this season, Miller appears to have the strongest shot at being the next Ignite prospect drafted following Henderson. The concern is what range that actually ends up becoming, as the variety of outcomes for him remains quite wide. With some eye-catching box score lines, he’s been fairly effective while playing a lot of minutes early in the season. This is a good sign that he can produce at this level even though he doesn’t fully understand everything. Miller didn’t play well at the Showcase on Tuesday, shooting a poor 3-of-13 from the field, but he managed to pull down 14 rebounds. He’s still a ways away from developing into the decision-maker he can be and a dependable shooter, which are both vital aspects of enjoying a long and lucrative career in the league.
Mojave King, G
To this point in the season, the 20-year-old King has started to come into his own, playing starter minutes and turning in a number of strong performances as well as some erratic ones. He has the athletic profile to be a 3-and-D type wing, but doesn’t quite possess the creative ability and confidence to be more than that yet. King fights and executes the tiny things well, similar to Australian prospects we have seen in the past. He has the capability to be a perfect role player. But he’ll need to be a lot more effective to get there, and that’s still in the air at the time. In the spring, we will most likely be talking about King in the same category as second round/two-way type of prospects.
Efe Abogidi, F
Abogidi became a member of the Ignite after two solid seasons at Washington State, and he was previously a member of the NBA’s Global Academy program and NBA Academy Africa. Now that he’s back in the NBA with Ignite, he’ll be fighting for a two-way contract and perhaps a bid at being a second-round pick.
Abogidi practing with the NBA’s Global Academy program
While he’s not a physically intimidating player for his size, he’s been efficient and productive in his minutes, rebounding with a motor, protecting the basket effectively, and showing the ability to knock down occasional jumpers. He didn’t accomplish much on Tuesday and may get lost in the flow of a game at times. But there are tools here to work on here for the forward that are fixable and give him quite more potential than what appears on the surface.
London Johnson, G
Johnson, who is 18, will compete for Ignite for the next two seasons before becoming eligible for the 2024 draft. One silver lining to Henderson’s absence was getting to watch Johnson play starter’s minutes for Ignite, where the point guard impressed with his poise and defensive effort. He looked quite comfortable at the G League level for a player who was in high school less than a year ago, which serves as a strong indicator of his NBA future.
Babacar Sané, F
Sane, a 19-year old native of Senegal, joined the Ignite in late October as a student of NBA Academy Africa. His physical frame at 6′ 6″, 194, is huge for his potential and future draft stock. His broad shoulders and excellent measurements for a wing give him potential scouts just cannot overlook.
Sané is still getting accustomed to playing at this level, as the game moves a little fast for him a lot of the time, but he fought hard on Tuesday and possesses the qualities that should earn him a serious look from NBA teams. He is still not ready for the NBA yet, and hasn’t made much of an impact on a regular basis, but it’ll be fascinating to see how he has developed as a player at the finish of the season.
Thierry Serge Darlan, G
Darlan, who has been widely perceived as the best prospect to come out of Africa (though for context, the historical bar there is not particularly high) is contemplating what to do next season. The guard has the options of joining the Ignite and playing in college, but he is draft-eligible as well.
Darlan is still learning his feel for guard position and also had a few mishaps in the tournament, but there are a lot of exciting parts to his game: he is a superb athlete, a talented passer, defends his position well, and plays with a PASSIONATE enthusiasm at all times. If he is placed in a great developmental environment, his game has the potential to take off, and it is clear that he has a future in the NBA.