Checking in On Former Ohio State Buckeyes In The NBA and G League

By Colin Hass-Hill on January 6, 2019 at 10:10 am
Mike Conley Jr. and D'Angelo Russell
D'Angelo Russell guards Mike Conley Jr. in November. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As Ohio State leaves the non-conference portion of its schedule and heads to Big Ten play, both the NBA and G League (formerly the NBA Developmental League) have hit the midpoint of their seasons.

With five former Ohio State basketball players in the NBA and four former Buckeyes in the G League, we took a look at how each of them are faring halfway through their seasons.


Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

Stats: 20.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks, 41.6 shooting percentage, 34.5 3-point percentage, 84.5 free-throw percentage, 34.2 minutes per game

Season: As long as he stays healthy, Conley is as steady as they come. This year has been no different. Many people expected the Grizzlies to be a draft lottery lock, but strong performances from Mac Gasol, Jaren Jackson and Conley had them in playoff contention early in the season. The Grizzlies have hit a dry spell in the past month, but Conley's numbers have stayed relatively steady. He has four double-doubles and four games with at least 30 points.

Game of the year: In a 131-125 double-overtime win against the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 30, Conley dropped a game-high 37 points while adding 10 assists and five rebounds. He scored 13 of Memphis' 14 points in double overtime, out-dueling D'Angelo Russell's Nets for the victory.

Kosta Koufos, Sacramento Kings

Stats: 3.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.4 blocks, 47.3 shooting percentage, 0.0 percent 3-point percentage, 45.5 free-throw percentage, 13.5 minutes per game

Season: Fighting for minutes in a frontcourt filled with youth, Koufos is averaging fewer minutes per game than he has played since the 2010-11 season, his third year in the league. The 7-foot big man averaged between 6.6 and 6.8 points per game in each of his past three season with the Kings, but his average is down to 3.8 points per game this season. Koufos hasn't played in the past 10 games and will have a limited role the remainder of the season.

Game of the year: Koufos has eight points and eight rebounds in Sacramento's 120-113 win against the Dallas Mavericks. He hit 4-of-6 shots, adding an assist and a steal.

D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets

Stats: 18.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks, 42.0 shooting percentage, 35.4 3-point percentage, 80.8 free-throw percentage, 29.5 minutes per game

Season: Second on the Brooklyn Nets to Caris Lavert in scoring, Russell requires the ball to operate, but is translating that opportunity into a career-high scoring average of 18.2 points per game. Russell has four double-doubles, and two of them came in the past two games. He has seven games with fewer than 10 points while dropping at least 30 points in five games. 

Game of the year: Russell's best game of the season thus far came in a 127-125 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 25. He put up a season-high 38 points, making 16-of-28 shots, adding eight assists and eight rebounds. 

Keita Bates-Diop, Minnesota Timberwolves

Stats: 2.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 25.0 shooting percentage, 0.0 3-point percentage, 0.0 free-throw percentage, 9.0 minutes per game (two games played)

Season: Drafted in the second round last spring, Bates-Diop has only played two games for the Minnesota Timberwolves, coached by Tom Thibodeau who is notorious for not playing rookies. Instead, Bates-Diop has bounced between Minnesota and the Iowa Wolves, a G League team. He averages 17.5 points and nine rebounds for Iowa. Bates-Diop likely doesn't have much of a path to playing time this year, but will have more of a chance to get on the court in his second season.

Game of the year: In his last game before his most recent call-up to Minnesota, Bates-Diop scored 28 points in a loss to the Windy City Bulls on Dec. 21. He went 10-for-21, hit three 3-pointers, grabbed 11 rebounds and had three blocks.

Evan Turner, Portland Trailblazers

Stats: 7.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 45.9 shooting percentage, 12.9 3-point percentage, 69.2 free-throw percentage, 24.6 minutes per game

Season: Though Turner is averaging the fewest points and minutes per game since his rookie year, the ninth-year player is a major part of Portland's rotation. He's a versatile wing who can play a role well, but will not power an offense single-handedly. Thus, he has carved out his niche, and Portland has him coming off the bench.

Game of the year: Turner's sole double-double of this season came in Portland's 118-103 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 6. He put up 16 points, one point shy of his season high, and racked up a game-high 11 rebounds. 

G League

Shannon Scott, Long Island Nets

Stats: 8.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks, 33.7 shooting percentage, 27.2 3-point percentage, 65.0 free-throw percentage, 31.3 minutes per game

Season: After going undrafted in 2015, Scott has bounced around the world, playing in Greece and Venezuela. Now, he's on his third G League team, the Long Island Nets, where he has started 14-of-21 games. 

Game of the year: For Scott, it's not just one game. He went back to back with a 20-assist game and a triple-double. Not too bad for the former Buckeye. Scott had nine points and 20 assists on Wednesday against the Erie Bayhawks, then had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists for his second career triple-double versus Raptors 905 on Saturday.

Marc Loving, Agua Caliente Clippers

Stats: 1.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, 25.0 shooting percentage, 22.2 3-point percentage, 0.0 free-throw percentage, 7.6 minutes per game

Season: Loving hasn't been able to carve out much of a role in his second year in the G League on his second team in the league. He put up 6.1 points in 17.6 minutes per game for the Delaware Blue Coats last year, but has had both numbers more than cut in half in his second year in the league. Loving plays sparingly for the Clippers.

Game of the year: Loving scored a season-high six points in the Clippers' 111-103 loss to the Canton Charge on Nov. 28. He hit a pair of 3-pointers.

Dallas Lauderdale, Maine Red Claws

Stats: 4.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.2 steals, 1.2 blocks, 73.8 shooting percentage, 0.0 3-point percentage, 42.9 free-throw percentage, 18 minutes per game

Season: For the second time in three years, Lauderdale is manning the paint for the Red Claws. He knows his role, hitting more than 70 percent of his shots and adding nearly five rebounds per game. The physical big man had a career year with the Idaho Stampede in 2013-14 with 7.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, but he remains a rotation piece for the Red Claws.

Game of the year: Lauderdale scored eight points and pulled down a season-high 13 rebounds against Raptors 905 on Dec. 29. He also had four assists and a block.

Sam Thompson, Greensboro Swarm

Stats: 5.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 38.3 shooting percentage, 28.3 3-point percentage, 75.0 free-throw percentage, 17.9 minutes per game

Season: Thompson, in his second year with the Swarm, has seen a decrease of 10 points and four points per game this season. He has scored double-digit points four times this season.

Game of the year: Hitting an efficient 8-of-11 shots, Thompson scored a season-high 21 points in Greensboro's 115-112 win against the Canton Charge on Dec. 15. He went 5-for-11 from beyond the 3-point line. Thompson had four rebounds, three assists and two steals, as well.

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