Ahead of each season, the league gathers 200+ players to join a pool of eligible prospects for the NBA G League Draft, of which half are selected.
This includes undrafted college talent, NBA and G League veterans, international players, national tryouts, and those that were recently waived by NBA teams upon the conclusion of training camp.
The draft consists of 4 rounds and like the NBA Draft, the top pick is highly-sought after. However, there is a high turnover rate in the G League with there being no multi-year contracts.
Let’s take a look at the number 1 selections in the G League Draft since 2015, and where they are now.
2015: Jeff Ayres
In the 2015 D-League Draft, NBA veteran Jeff Ayres was selected with the top pick by the Idaho Stampede (now the Salt Lake City Stars).
Ayres had already played in 256 NBA games at the time of the selection, with the Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs. With the latter he won the 2014 NBA Championship.
In 25 contests with the Stampede, he averaged 16.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 blocks. In that same season, he was traded to the Los Angeles D-Fenders (now the South Bay Lakers). Before receiving another NBA opportunity with the Los Angeles Clippers.
He did feature in 17 games with the Clippers but hasn’t seen an NBA court since. He did return to the D-Fenders in the D-League in the 2016-17 season, but has since bounced around, mainly in Japan. Where he was last on the books with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.
2016: Anthony Brown
2016 saw guard Anthony Brown selected with the number 1 pick, by the Erie BayHawks (now the Lakeland Magic). Just a season before, Brown was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 34th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. But following a quiet season and multiple assignments in the D-League, Brown fell out of the NBA completely.
In the his first 3 games of the 2016-17 season, he averaged 29.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, which led to another NBA opportunity. This time with the New Orleans Pelicans. Although, he was waived after 9 games and returned to the BayHawks. He did sign a 10-day contract with the Orlando Magic in January 2017, but again returned to Erie following its expiration.
Over the course of the 2016-17 season, Brown averaged 20.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1 steal, through 24 games. The following season he signed a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, before taking his talents overseas to Serbia.
He did return to the G League in 2019 to play for the Lakeland Magic but has since played in France and Spain. He is now on the books of Metropolitans 92 for the 2020-21 season, in the LNB Pro A, the top tier in France.
2017: Eric Stuteville
The Northern Arizona Suns held the number 1 pick in the 2017 G League Draft, after acquiring it from Iowa. With the pick they selected prospect Eric Stuteville, who was coming off the back of 4-years at Sacramento State University.
He didn’t play much at first, but ended up featuring in 43 games (18 starts) in his first season in the professional ranks. Averaging 5.1 points and 2.4 rebounds. He was with the Suns for the 2018-19 season too, where he posted averages of 6.7 points and 4 rebounds, in 50 games.
Following the 2018-19 season, Stuteville opted to join Kangoeroes Mechelen in the Pro Basketball League in Belgium for the 2019-20 campaign.
2018: Willie Reed
With the top pick in the 2018 G League Draft, the Salt Lake City Stars selected veteran center Willie Reed. Who had already played for the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, and Detroit Pistons in the NBA. As well as the Grand Rapids Drive and Iowa Energy (now the Iowa Wolves) in the D-League. He also had spells in the Dominican Republic and Israel too.
With Salt Lake City in the 2018-19 season, Reed averaged 20 pts, 11.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.7 blocks, in 21 games. However, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in January 2019 and was subsequently waived.
Reed went onto have a 3-month stint in Greece with Olympiacos. Before returning to the Salt Lake City Stars in January 2020. Where he went onto play in 8 games, averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists.
2019: Anthony Lawrence II
For the second time in three seasons, the Northern Arizona Suns held the number 1 pick in the G League Draft. Which they used on prospect Anthony Lawrence II.
Lawrence spent 4 years at the University of Miami, before spending the 2019 NBA Summer League with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Where, in 8 games, he averaged 4.8 points and 2 rebounds.
The 23-year-old forward went onto sign a contract with Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Israel. Although, both parties terminated the contract after just 1 pre-season game. Lawrence then joined the Utah Jazz for training camp but was eventually waived. From there he was picked up by Northern Arizona in the G League.
Over the past season, Lawrence averaged 8.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, in 38 games. Shooting 45.6% from the field. Lawrence and the Suns were 11-31 as the season suspension hit in March.