First round, notes from G-League Draft: Lance Stephenson, LiAngelo Ball, more

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls
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The G-League Draft, which took place Saturday, is a little different than the NBA Draft. The biggest difference is teams take players they have a connection with. Also, the agents for players with name recognition and some clout tell other teams not to draft said player so he gets picked by the team he wants to play for. That generally works. While they can draft anyone available, teams tend to stick with guys they know from Summer League and training camp, especially early in the draft.

That said, there were some interesting picks. Here is how the first round broke down:

1. Delaware Blue Coats (Philadelphia): Shamorie Ponds
2. College Park Skyhawks (Atlanta): Tyler Hagedorn
3. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana): Gabe York
4. Westchester Knicks (New York): Justin Turner
5. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (L.A. Clippers): Nate Darling
6. Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami): Brandon Knight
7. Texas Legends (Dallas): Eddie Stansberry
8. Motor City Cruise (Detroit): Jaylen Johnson
9. Iowa Wolves (Minnesota): Michael Gbinije
10. Salt Lake City Stars (Utah): Zaire Wade
11. Texas Legends (Dallas): Loudon Love
12. Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State): Alan Griffin
13. Grand Rapids Gold (Denver): Lance Stephenson
14. Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte): LiAngelo Ball
15. Lakeland Magic (Orlando): TJ Haws
16. Cleveland Charge (Cleveland): B.J. Taylor
17. Windy City Bulls (Chicago): Scottie Lindsey
18. Maine Celtics (Boston): Isaiah Ross
19. Iowa Wolves (Minnesota): Ruot Monyyong
20. Lakeland Magic (Orlando): Marlon Stewart
21. Stockton Kings (Sacramento): Joe Young
22. Iowa Wolves (Minnesota): Samir Doughty
23. Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte): Chudier Bile
24. Capital City Go-Go (Washington): Rodney Pryor
25. Windy City Bulls (Chicago): Tim Bond
26. Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte): Tyree White
27. Cleveland Charge (Cleveland): Montell McRae
28. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston): Cullen Russo

A few notes from the first round:

• LiAngelo Ball was one of those players with name recognition trying to get somewhere specific, and he did: Ball will play for the Greensboro Swarm, the affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets, where his brother LaMelo plays. This isn’t a case of “let’s keep the star happy and sign his brother,” LiAngelo earned this shot with his play in Summer League and the Hornets training camp.

• Yes, that is nine-year NBA veteran Lance Stephenson — he of the famed battles with LeBron James — trying to play his way back into the association, and he will be doing so in the Denver organization. Jason Terry will coach the Grand Rapids Gold; it’s the first head coaching job for the NBA veteran. Stephenson has been out of the league for a couple of seasons, but with the demand for versatile wings in the league, you can be sure teams will watch.

• The Salt Lake City Stars drafted Zaire Wade, the son of Heat legend Dwyane Wade (it should be noted Wade is a minority owner of the Jazz). That led to this touching moment.

• The South Bay Lakers are bringing back Andre Ingram for a ninth year with the team.

• Interesting note from Marc Stein Saturday in his newsletter (which I say again is must-subscribe if you are an NBA fan).

The G League, like the NBA itself, does not have a formal mandate that players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be able to play. But players are required to provide their vaccination status and G League teams, responsible for paying for player tests on small budgets, are widely expected to sign or draft only vaccinated players given the expenses involved and potential risk factors.