The 2019-20 NBA season is underway, and only two players from NC State are on NBA rosters, despite having four last season. Despite this, many players are signed to professional clubs and have bright futures ahead of them playing professionally. These include three alumni on G-League rosters, giving them a good shot to eventually crack an NBA roster. Let’s take a look at where some players ended up over the summer.
T.J. Warren, small forward, Indiana Pacers (NBA)
Warren was traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Indiana Pacers ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft in exchange for cash considerations. The Pacers traded for Warren with the expectation that then-to-be free agent Bojan Bogdanovic would command a good amount of money on the market and decided Warren could replace his scoring efficiency, taking the Suns up on the extremely low price on him.
With the Pacers missing team leader and all-star Victor Oladipo, who is out with injury to start the season, Warren was expected to step into a larger scoring role with fellow offseason additions Malcolm Brogdon, who played at Virginia and won the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year award, and Jeremy Lamb.
Despite the high expectations and good opportunities, Warren has failed to capitalize on his surroundings thus far, only averaging 12.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals on a bad 39.7% shooting from the floor and 8.3% from deep, despite improving from that mark significantly last season. This is all happening for Warren despite playing a career high in minutes per game, with 34 in the five games the Pacers have played this season.
It is likely that Warren will figure things out as the season continues. His role will stabilize when Pacers players return from injury, but this stretch has to be frustrating for both Warren and fans after great improvement last season.
Dennis Smith Jr., point guard, New York Knicks (NBA)
Despite showing impressive flashes after being traded to the Knicks last season, Smith is having a hard time finding his groove thus far this year. In a crowded point guard room that includes Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina, Smith is averaging just one point on a rough 9.1% shooting from the floor in just 8.7 minutes per game.
Like Warren, Smith is struggling a bit this season, but it may just be due to a small sample size, as he has only taken 11 shots. Being away from the court due to personal issues may have something to do with it. Regardless, if Smith’s downward trend continues, it may mean yet another change of scenery for the third-year point guard, who has flashed immense athleticism and talent in the past.
Kiara Leslie, point guard, Washington Mystics (WNBA)
The first of this year’s Pack Pro national champions from Washington D.C., Leslie did not play in a game this season for the Mystics due to injury. Leslie is sure to join the Mystics again next season when they try to defend their new title and is likely to see more playing time.
C.J. Williams, shooting guard, Long Island Nets (NBA G-League)
Williams spent training camp and preseason with the Long Island Nets, where he appeared in one game for two minutes. Williams was subsequently waived after the Nets decided to leave their second two-way contract spot vacant to enter the season. Because he was on the Nets training camp roster, the Long Island Nets were able to keep Williams’ rights as an affiliate player this season as he attempts to earn an NBA call-up.
Wyatt Walker, forward, Oklahoma City Blue (NBA G-League)
Walker was drafted 25th overall by the Blue, the G-League affiliate in the 2019 NBA G-League Draft. Walker averaged 4.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 35 starts for the Wolfpack last season. This marks Walker’s first professional team since leaving college, and he is competing on the Blue’s training camp roster, hoping to crack the roster when it is set on Nov. 7.
Trevor Lacey, point guard, Wisconsin Herd (NBA G-League)
Lacey joined the Milwaukee Bucks on an Exhibit-10 contract over the summer, securing his rights as an affiliate player for the Wisconsin Herd, meaning the parent club has priority rights to his contract if he were to be signed to the NBA. Now Lacey joins the Herd for training camp ahead of the 2019-20 NBA G-League season.
Cat Barber, point guard, College Park Skyhawks (NBA G-League)
After being traded from the Greensboro Swarm to the then-Erie BayHawks, Barber averaged 22.4 points, 7.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals on 48.6% from the field in 12 starts out of his 14 games on the team. The BayHawks were acquired by the New Orleans Pelicans, giving the Atlanta Hawks a new affiliate team, the Skyhawks. Barber will relocate with the team as a returning-rights player as he continues his attempted journey to an NBA roster.
Torin Dorn, shooting guard, Slask Wroclaw (Polish TBL)
Dorn was the first player on the 2018-19 Wolfpack team to join a professional club, with Walker following. Dorn signed in Poland and is averaging 12.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists in six games with the club this season. Dorn spent the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League with the Hornets and could join a G-League team or even an NBA team after the Polish season ends.
Allerik Freeman, shooting guard, Bursaspor (Turkish BSL)
After an impressive season overseas last year, Freeman is back to his high-scoring antics, averaging 21.5 points, five rebounds and three assists in six games played with his new club, Bursaspor. Freeman separated from his last club, Alba Fehervar, over the summer.
Lorenzo Brown, shooting guard, KK Crvena Zvezda (Serbian KLS)
After spending some of last season with reigning champions the Toronto Raptors and the Guangzhou Long-Lions, Brown signed with KK Crvena Zvezda of Serbia and is averaging 9.55 points, 2.27 rebounds and 4.36 assists per game in 11 games for the club. Brown has already shown he has the talent to play at an NBA level and will likely look to push for an NBA roster spot after the Serbian season concludes.