The NBA G League Winter Showcase is a huge event for players in the league and the Long Island Nets have a pair of players who will look to show their stuff.
The Long Island Nets will head to Las Vegas this week for the annual NBA G League Winter Showcase with at least two players who could look to jump start their NBA dreams with a good showing in the team’s two games at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
The Showcase provides G League players — the overwhelming majority of whom are NBA free agents — an opportunity to show their stuff in front of general managers and talent evaluators from all 30 NBA teams.
Rookie Jordan McLaughlin has been a bolt of lightning for the Nets after joining them in training camp. McLaughlin was with the Brooklyn Nets for training camp after playing with Brooklyn’s entry in the NBA Summer League, but was waived after the team’s final preseason game.
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Being released by Brooklyn allocated his rights to their G League affiliate in Long Island and the 22-year-old point guard has seized the opportunity after getting just eight minutes of playing time with the parent Nets in the preseason.
McLaughlin got his first G League start on Nov. 27 in place of injured Shannon Scott and after Scott returned from a two-game absence, Long Island coach Will Weaver re-inserted McLaughlin into the starting unit after just one game.
He’s made six consecutive starts and over that span is averaging 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes per game, shooting 49.4 percent overall, 43.2 percent from 3-point range and has made 85.7 percent of his free throws.
McLaughlin has done that while committing just 1.8 turnovers per night.
Overall this season, McLaughlin is averaging 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals in 29.7 minutes a game, shooting 45.1 percent overall, 32.4 percent from deep and 83 percent at the line.
McLaughlin went undrafted in June after he was a four-year starter at USC, in part because of concerns about his size. At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, he is on the smallish side and can run into some defensive mismatches because of it.
But he’s scoring more in the G League than he did as a collegian while shooting more efficiently.
Given there are teams out there looking for point guard depth, McLaughlin could be a candidate for an NBA deal either immediately after the Showcase or after the Jan. 5 moratorium on offering 10-day contracts expires.
Another rookie — at least in NBA terms — that has impressed with Long Island is Australian swingman Mitch Creek. Creek signed with the Brooklyn Nets in August after a stint with the Dallas Mavericks in the Summer League.
Creek was slowed by an ankle injury and got only two minutes of play in the preseason before being waived on Oct. 12 and allocated to Long Island.
He has started 13 of Long Island’s 16 games thus far and is averaging 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 30.7 minutes per game, shooting 55.6 percent overall and 77.6 percent at the foul line, while hitting 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from 3-point range.
A physical player at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Creek is not a terrific outside shooter, but he’s active on the glass and is an accomplished defender both on the perimeter and inside.
He was named to the second team of the all-league picks in Australia’s National Basketball League last season after helping the Adelaide 36ers reach the Grand Final.
He played forward, even some 4, in his native pro league and averaged 14.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 28.7 minutes per game last season, shooting 61.1 percent overall, 33.3 percent from deep and 77.3 percent at the line in what was his seventh pro season down under.
After a short stint with BG Goettingen in Germany’s Basketball Bundesliga, Creek agreed to a deal with s.Oliver Baskets in Wurzburg, Germany, before exercising an NBA out clause to sign with Brooklyn.
Earlier this month, Creek agreed to return to Australia with a new team set to begin play in 2019, the South East Melbourne Phoenix … unless he secures an NBA deal in the interim.
Other NBA free agents on the Long Island roster include center Kendall Gray (age 26); forwards Nuni Omot (24), Drew Gordon (28), Ismael Sanogo (22), Thomas Wimbush (25) and Kamari Murphy (25); and guards Scott (26 on Friday) and Tahjere McCall (24).
Of that group, only Gordon has previous NBA experience, playing nine games with the Philadelphia 76ers in November and December 2014.
Long Island’s Showcase games are Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets affiliate) and Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern against the Oklahoma City Blue (Oklahoma City Thunder affiliate).