Zaire Wade

Northwest Notes: Simons, Conley, Azubuike, Z. Wade

Trail Blazers forward Anfernee Simons has really started to blossom during his fourth year, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic.

A lot of Simons’ improvement appears to be a credit to his commitment to offseason workouts with longtime trainer Phil Beckner. One of Portland’s many undersized guards, Simons is averaging career highs of 12.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.4 APG and 22.8 MPG through his first five games during the 2021/22 season.

“Usually, he would train with me here and there,” Beckner said. “And at the start of the summer he wanted to know where I was going to be. I told him either Phoenix or Portland. So I asked him where he was going to be. His answer: ‘Wherever you are at.”’

“Everybody kept telling me, ‘My time is coming. My time is coming …’ and I wanted to be prepared,” Simons said. “New coach, new opportunity, and I wanted to be prepared as much as possible to show I’m ready for it. So that was my whole thing this summer: follow Phil around and get better each day.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • 34-year-old veteran Jazz point guard Mike Conley sat out his first game of the season yesterday, a 107-99 loss to the Bulls in which the Jazz desperately could have used Conley’s leadership, in a conscientious load management decision from head coach Quin SnyderEric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune details Utah’s thinking. “It’s more of a holistic decision, and one that we think is the best for our team and for Mike,” Snyder said. “I think, given the choice, he’d try to play every back-to-back. But I’m not gonna let him do that.” Conley is set to return tonight against the Bucks, per Jazz.com.
  • Newly-installed Jazz general manager Justin Zanik addressed the decision to pick up the team’s 2022/23 option on intriguing second-year center Udoka Azubuike, writes Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. “I was very happy with him in the summer and the work that he’s done,” Zanik said. “It’s just really hard to be in game-type shape when you’re not playing games.” Azubuike appeared in just 15 contests as a rookie.
  • 19-year-old rookie guard Zaire Wade, selected with the tenth pick in the NBA G League draft by the Salt Lake City Stars, G League affiliate to the Jazz, acknowledged grappling with detractors in his entrance to the pro ranks, writes Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune. His father, future Hall-of-Famer Dwyane Wade, is a part-owner of the Jazz. “I think a lot of people think that I’m not a hard-working kid and things get handed to me,” Zaire said. “Nothing’s handed to me. Coach said he noticed after the first day I stepped here, I’m just working hard trying to earn everything myself. I’m trying to make a name for myself.”

2021/22 NBA G League Draft Results

The NBA G League held its draft for the 2021/22 season on Saturday afternoon.

The 28 G League teams affiliated with NBA teams participated in the event, with the G League Ignite and Mexico City Capitanes sitting it out. The Ignite and Capitanes will be taking part in the NBAGL’s Showcase Cup this fall, but won’t be part of the 36-game regular season that tips off in late December.

The first player selected in today’s draft was former St. John’s point guard Shamorie Ponds, who was picked by the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers‘ G League affiliate. Ponds has a little NBA experience, having appeared in four games as a rookie in 2019/20 while on a two-way contract with Toronto.

Among the other notable picks were Nate Darling by the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario at No. 5 and LiAngelo Ball by the Greensboro Swarm at No. 14. Last week, the Clippers and Hornets signed and waived Darling and Ball, respectively, in an effort to secure their affiliate rights, but were unable to get those rights for procedural reasons. The two teams had to use the draft to make sure they landed those players.

The Knicks also signed and waived veteran guard Brandon Knight during the preseason and were unable to get his affiliate rights due to a procedural issue. However, Westchester passed on Knight with the No. 4 overall pick today, and the Heat‘s affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, snatched him up at No. 6. We’ll see if Knight is no longer in the Knicks’ plans or if the Skyforce intend to trade his rights to Westchester.

Lance Stephenson to the Grand Rapids Gold (Nuggets) at No. 13 and Dwyane Wade‘s son Zaire Wade to the Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz) at No. 10 were a couple of the other notable picks that played out as expected.

Here are the full 2021/22 G League draft results:


Round One:

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

Round Two:

  1. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Karim Mane
  2. College Park Skyhawks (Hawks): Kalob Ledoux
  3. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Gerard Tarin
  4. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): Barra Njie
  5. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Tahj Eaddy
  6. Grand Rapids Gold (Nuggets): Trevon Duval
  7. Lakeland Magic (Magic): Gary Chivichyan
  8. Motor City Cruise (Pistons): Ryan Daly
  9. Wisconsin Herd (Bucks): Keaton Wallace
  10. Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): Pedro Bradshaw
  11. Austin Spurs (Spurs): Alexis Wangmene
  12. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Ian DuBose
  13. Sioux Falls Skyforce (Heat): Mike Smith
  14. Lakeland Magic (Magic): Jaire Grayer
  15. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Blake Francis
  16. Cleveland Charge (Cavaliers): Jack Pagenkopf
  17. Lakeland Magic (Magic): Devonte Patterson
  18. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Jordan Allen
  19. Birmingham Squadron (Pelicans): Devearl Ramsey
  20. Long Island Nets (Nets): Chris Walker
  21. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Eric Demers
  22. Birmingham Squadron (Pelicans): Derrick Griffin
  23. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): JaQuan Lyle
  24. Capital City Go-Go (Wizards): Jachai Taylor
  25. Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Lydell Elmore
  26. Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Ikenna Ndugba
  27. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Tevin King
  28. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): Kammeon Holsey

Round Three:

  1. South Bay Lakers (Lakers): Elijah Cain
  2. College Park Skyhawks (Hawks): Landon Taliaferro
  3. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Will Vorhees
  4. Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Asante Gist
  5. Stockton Kings (Kings): Princepal Singh
  6. Grand Rapids Gold (Nuggets): Trevor John
  7. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Tristan Jarrett
  8. Motor City Cruise (Pistons): Devon Baulkman
  9. Wisconsin Herd (Bucks): Jaylen Bland
  10. Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): J.C. Show
  11. Austin Spurs (Spurs): No pick
  12. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): No pick
  13. Sioux Falls Skyforce (Heat): Joel Ntambwe
  14. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): No pick
  15. Texas Legends (Mavericks): Lamonte Bearden
  16. Stockton Kings (Kings): No pick
  17. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): No pick
  18. Maine Celtics (Celtics): Lindsey Drew
  19. Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Artur Labinowicz
  20. Long Island Nets (Nets): Jaylen Fisher
  21. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): Randy Onwuasor
  22. Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Seth Allen
  23. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Jovan Mooring
  24. Capital City Go-Go (Wizards): Jermaine Haley
  25. Windy City Bulls (Bulls): Kerwin Roach
  26. Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Isaiah Blackmon
  27. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Marlon Taylor
  28. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Jimond Ivey

Teams will fill out their rosters with affiliate players, returning-rights players, tryout players, and players who are assigned to the G League from the NBA roster (including those on two-way contracts).

G League training camps open on Monday, with the Showcase Cup tournament tipping off on November 5.

Western Notes: Wade, Jazz, Kings, Winslow, Suns, Thunder

Dwyane Wade‘s son Zaire Wade is signing an NBA G League contract and is expected to land with the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s NBAGL affiliate, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Dwyane is, of course, a part-owner of the Jazz.

The Jazz could secure Zaire’s G League rights for Salt Lake City by signing him to an Exhibit 10 contract and making him an affiliate player. But if the team doesn’t go that route and the younger Wade signs a general G League contract, the Stars would likely select him in the NBAGL draft on October 23.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic liked the Kings‘ offseason on the whole, but questioned the team’s decision to trade Delon Wright for Tristan Thompson, then sign Alex Len and retain Damian Jones. All three big men figure to be backups, with Richaun Holmes starting at the five.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, who said on Monday that he has been impressed by Justise Winslow‘s passing ability, confirmed that he views the former lottery pick as an option at point guard, per Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “I know he played a little point guard in Miami and with our point guard situation, with Jason (Preston) going down, he’ll be playing a little backup point,” Lue said. “He been playing the four, he’s been playing the five. … so we just gotta keep learning the plays, different positions and I think he’s gonna be really good for us.”
  • While it may be a matter of semantics, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) stresses that extension discussions between the Suns and Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges are ongoing, not stalled. In other words, one or both of Ayton and Bridges could still end up signing a new contract before the October 18 deadline, even if no agreement is imminent yet.
  • The Thunder continue to experiment with different lineups, according to Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com, who notes that the team used 35 different five-man units in its first two preseason games. “With the lineups, the way that we try to look at it is that every player has their own individual style of play, and the lineups are just a merging of those things,” head coach Mark Daigneault said.