As injuries and fatigue set in across the NBA, the approaching All-Star break will allow many players to hit the reset button and lock in for the rest of the season. In the meantime, teams craving an injection of life have to look no further than the NBA G League for the help they seek.
This week’s edition of NBA Call-Up Candidates has it all, including players who can pack a scoring punch, crash the grass, find teammates in transition, or make it rain from downtown. They all have one overwhelming thing in common: they’re hungry as ever to reach the next level.
Here’s a look at five prospects whose stock is rising with stellar play in the NBA G League.
Kendrick Nunn, Santa Cruz Warriors: One of the top remaining free agent scorers available in the NBA G League, Nunn is no stranger to providing a boost off the bench. He’s averaging 19 points as a reserve for Santa Cruz, including 21.8 points in his last five games. He’s a firecracker of sorts who allows his hunger to score the ball to propel his defense. He chases opposing floor generals across the floor and hardly ever lets up, as evidenced by his 2.5 steals average over his last five.
Chinanu Onuaku, Greensboro Swarm: This big man has held court alongside the likes of Two-Way Players Angel Delgado and Alan Williams, ranking among the league’s leading rebounders all season long. Currently averaging 12.4, he’s now eighth overall. Onuaku knows full well what his bread and butter is: He asserts his physical frame down low and makes things happen upon pulling down the boards. Whether he’s focused on attacking the rim for his own scoring benefit or tossing the rock back out along the perimeter, there’s no doubt this 22-year-old adds value.
Chris Chiozza, Capital City Go-Go: Chiozza pops up now and again on this list, thanks to his ability to conform like a chameleon on any given night. Teaming up with Wizards Two-Way Players and NBA assignees like Jordan McRae, Devin Robinson, Gary Payton II and Troy Brown Jr., it’s safe to say Chiozza has been surrounded by guys who like to make it rain. He plays with exuberance, clearly enjoying his role as the Go-Go’s setup man. At the same time, he’s able to flip the switch and attack the basket on his own when the situation calls for it. While often serving as a selfless play-maker, the guard has seven outings with 19 points or more. Making sure he leaves his fingerprints all over games, Chiozza is tallying 14.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in January.
Jameel Warney, Westchester Knicks: Speaking of having a strong month of January, Warney is clearly revitalized after coming back for some of that home cooking. Now suiting up for Westchester, the New Jersey native and Stony Brook alum is staying alert on offense and aggressively pursuing scoring opportunities. Such enthusiasm on offense is one of the key traits that earned Warney a previous shot in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks. Well-known as a strong presence inside, Warney has been making more of an effort to work on his perimeter game, so that he can help stretch the floor in The Association. In eight games with Westchester, he is averaging 20 points.
John Petrucelli, Lakeland Magic: Petrucelli has been a standout among the NBA G League’s top long-range shooters, currently second best at 49%. He’s been lighting it up all season, and the last few games he’s simply gotten even hotter. Logging 13.6 points on 61% from deep, the guard is proving he can be depended upon in the clutch. After a 21 point outing at the Winter Showcase on Dec. 19, he’s continued to back up the kind of prowess he displayed in front of scouts. Perhaps even more importantly, Petrucelli’s passion to reach the next level has oozed out to efforts on the other end of the floor. In his last five games, the 25-year-old has been a defensive hound, coming up with 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks.