If you read my recent article about underrated young players, you may remember that I mentioned how important opportunity is in the NBA. If you didn’t, I’ll sum it up for you.
I said that having young guys on the end of a bench can be very valuable. All it takes is a young player to get some opportunity, and then they can show how good they are. The best way to develop a young guy is to play them.
My example in my recent article was Moses Brown. He signed a two-way contract with the Thunder last offseason, looking like his career would be over soon. He played extremely well in the G-League bubble, and then the Thunder started giving him minutes. He took the opportunity and ran with it, and got a multi-year deal with OKC.
Multiple other players have done what Moses did this year. The NBA lifted the restriction on how many games a two-way player can suit up for in the NBA, and I think that was a good move. It creates more opportunity. That opportunity has paid off for multiple players this season, seeing their play rewarded with a full NBA deal. Those players are:
Lamar Stevens (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Lamar is an undrafted rookie forward who just got a multi-year contract with the Cavs. He’s a good rebounder and a solid defender. His offense is still coming around, but a hustle player is always a good asset for an NBA team.
Yuta Watanabe (Toronto Raptors)
Yuta is the best player I’ll mention in this article. After two years with Memphis where he only played 33 games, he got his opportunity with the struggling Raptors. He’s played 41 games so far this season. He can stretch the floor (40% from three), play some good defense, finish at the rim, and rebound. He’s a versatile player who would help a good team off the bench. Toronto only signed him for the rest of this season, so he’ll be a free agent after this year. I expect him to sign with some sort of contender.
Mamadi Diakite (Milwaukee Bucks)
Although he doesn’t play much, Mamadi is one of my favorite Bucks. That’s why I’m excited that he got a long term deal with Milwaukee. He’s a player who works hard on the boards, and can throw it down on anybody. He can block shots. He can hit the mid-range shot at a consistent rate, and hopefully he can develop a three-pointer as well. He also has winning DNA from his time at Virginia. Mamadi clearly works hard (that has to be why he got the deal, because he doesn’t play much), and I think he’s gonna have a solid NBA career.
There are some other players who are currently playing well on a two-way contract. Those guys include Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings), Armoni Brooks (Houston Rockets), and Naji Marshall (New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans has an open roster spot, and I expect Marshall to fill that spot. He’s entered the Pelicans rotation, and he’s been playing well too).
The other way for players to get some opportunity is a 10 day contract. There’s been a ton of 10-day signings this season as teams decide who to use their roster spots on. Several players have earned full NBA contracts after their 10 day expired. Those players are:
Oshae Brissett (Indiana Pacers)
Oshae has really been playing well for Indiana so far. In 7 games (2 starts), he’s averaged 7 points, 3 rebounds (1 offensive and 2 defensive), almost one steal and one block, and shot 43% from three. Although he’s a forward, he’s actually played most of his minutes at center so far due to Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis missing time. That’s impressive. Oshae got a three year deal, and at age 22 he’ll probably develop into a consistent rotational wing throughout his time with the Pacers.
Alize Johnson (Brooklyn Nets)
Alize first signed on a 10 day contract with Brooklyn in late March. In his first game with Brooklyn (where the injury ravaged Nets took a blowout loss to Utah), Alize put up 23 points and 15 rebounds. He’s a great rebounder, and the definition of hustle. He’s averaged 5 points and 5 rebounds in 12 games for the Nets, earning a three year guaranteed deal with Brooklyn. I guess the board man really does get paid.
Norvel Pelle (New York Knicks)
Norvel is a really impressive shot blocker. When I was at Bucks vs. 76ers last February, Norvel blocked D.J. Wilson three times straight before D.J. finally got a dunk. It was wild. This year, he spent time with Brooklyn and Sacramento before getting a 10 day with New York. Coach Tom Thibodeau said he didn’t know who Norvel was when he first arrived, but then he was very impressed with how hard Pelle works. That hard work resulted in a multi-year deal. The Knicks have a great trio of shot-blocking centers, with Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, and Norvel Pelle.
Tyler Cook (Detroit Pistons)
Tyler is similar to Alize Johnson. He’s a hustle player who finishes efficiently and grabs rebounds. He works hard on the court. His issue is that he can’t shoot. He’s only 23, and has time to develop a jumper. Detroit likes the way he’s been playing, because they signed him for the rest of this season and next season. As mentioned earlier in the article, a hustle player is always a great thing to have on a basketball team.
Devin Cannady (Orlando Magic)
After winning G League Finals MVP with the Lakeland Magic, Cannady earned a 10 day contract with the Orlando Magic. He was pretty solid, especially as a shooter. Orlando signed him to a two-way contract after his 10 day expired. Unfortunately, Cannady suffered an awful ankle injury the other night. I wish him a speedy recovery.
Also, shout out to Freddie Gillespie, who I hope will get a full deal with the Raptors after his second 10 day expires, because he’s been a solid rebounder and finisher for a Toronto roster in need of center depth.
I decided to write this article because this season has had a lot more 10 day deals than any season I can remember (including one for my boy Mike “LeBron” James, who was a cheat code in NBA2K19). I love seeing random NBA players get opportunities. If you aren’t like me and don’t care about (or don’t know about) super random NBA players, you probably didn’t like this article. That’s cool. It was a random article about random players, after all.
But, I hope you did enjoy this article. In fact, I hope that you go watch one of the guys in this article play sometime. After all, the point of this article (besides giving examples of how 10 day contracts and two-way contracts are great things) was to introduce you to some guys you’ve probably never heard of.
See you next time!