2018 G League Showcase Puts Legends Stars in Spotlight

By Asher Feltman | January 9, 2018

Every time the Legends take the floor, it’s a chance for fans all over the world to see them play. It’s also an opportunity for executives at the NBA level to see the exceptional talent that the best G League players have to offer. Doing what they do best, play basketball of course, is the job title and the G League Showcase is one of the premiere venues for these players to show higher-ups that they can compete and succeed at the next level.

2018 brings the 14th showcase to the league and the first under the banner of “G League.” It’s always a highly viewed and crucial affair, but the expanded viewership and sponsorships of the NBA’s minor league this season promises to deliver the most tantalizing showcase yet.

The proceedings will take place from Wednesday, January 10th to Saturday, January 13th in Mississauga, Ontario, home of the defending champion Raptors 905. All 26 teams will be on hand to play two games between the given dates at either the Hershey Centre or the neighboring Mississauga SportZone.

Across the last 13 showcases, NBA scouts and team personnel from within the States or across the border have been able to see the best of the best up-and-coming talent in one spot. This has resulted in more than 50 players earning call-ups to the NBA during or immediately after the showcase in the past 13 years.

The Texas Legends’ two games will both be played at the Hershey Centre on Wednesday evening and Friday afternoon.

First, the team’s 23rd “regular season” game comes disguised as “showcase game number one” against the Wisconsin Herd, the expansion affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks at 5 PM CT.

Then on Friday, they will “host” the Charlotte Hornets affiliated Greensboro Swarm at 1:30 PM CT. The game will be broadcasted nationally on ESPNU.

Front and center for Texas will be two of their star players: Justin Dentmon and Jameel Warney.

The veteran point guard Dentmon enters showcase as the G League’s leading scorer at a robust 28.9 points per game. He’s also second in the league in steals with 2.4 a night. Discounting players with a single game played, Dentmon’s 4.2 three-pointers a game also leads the league and 6.7 free throws is another top three showing.

HIDALGO, TX – NOVEMBER 29: Justin Dentmon #25 of the Texas Legends works the ball on R.J. Hunter #3 of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers during an NBA G-League game on November 29, 2017 at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.

His all-star status goes along with a relaxed demeanor ahead of the G League’s main event.

“I just want to take it as another game,” Dentmon says. “If I go out there and think too much I’m going to make mistakes. When I don’t overthink, I play my best basketball. Just try to go in there with a clear mind and play my butt off.”

Dentmon has plenty of professional experience across the G League, overseas ball and the NBA. Between the San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks he’s played 95 minutes at the top circuit and is on the verge of returning there with his outstanding play. Despite his credentials, the 32-year old still has a big chip on his shoulder.

“(Showcase) is just another day to get better. Another day for me to get out there and improve. I’ve got a lot to prove. I feel like I haven’t earned that respect that I think I should have throughout the years. Yeah, I’m known as a scorer but I also want to be known as a winner, a leader and a guy that can make a team better.”

Warney missed last year’s showcase with an injury but is raring to go this season after his FIBA AmeriCup MVP summer and brilliant first part of the 2017-2018 regular season. The 23-year old has a birthday coming up at the resolution of January and is one of the most coveted G Leaguers at the moment.

ORLANDO, FL – NOVEMBER 23: Jameel Warney #13 of Team USA shoots the ball against Puerto Rico the FIBA World Cup America Qualifiers on November 23, 2017 at CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida.

“I’m really excited,” says the double-double connoisseur. “I missed last year, I was there with the team but it’s going to be a way different experience to play this year. If you told me last year I wouldn’t play in the showcase but would have a good end of season and a good season right now, I’ll take it at the end of the day. But I’m here now.”

This season, he’s averaging a double-double of 19.6 points and 10.5 rebounds, the latter good for third in the league. In 34.4 minutes a game the big man has been relentless, also averaging 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks and a steal every time he laces up his man-sized sneakers. He doesn’t see this blurp on the schedule radar as much of a deviation, but an opportunity to keep playing his game.

“I don’t think it’s a big difference at all. We just need to get wins. At the end of the day, we just need wins badly. We’re looking at the big picture and making the playoffs. Hopefully we can stick to our plan and we’ll be okay.”

As far as all the additional eyes and ears, that’s nothing new for the gold medal winner. “I was playing in front of these guys over the summer so it’s not anything different. I know what I’m going to do, I’m not going to do anything out of the ordinary. I’m going to do what I do, be who I am and try to get some wins for the team.”

The Legends enter the showcase having won three of their last four and five of seven and, on top of impressing the clipboard holders and iPad users in the crowd, will look to continue their recent strong stretch of basketball and get a pair of wins. Truthfully, that’s the only thing Dentmon and Warney want to talk about.

After Friday, Warney says a successful showcase will be measured by victories. “Two wins. That’s the most important thing on my mind right now is two wins. It doesn’t matter how we do it. Just get those two wins and get ready for that long homestand we have coming up.”

Dentmon echoes his teammate almost verbatim. “Really just wins. We struggle putting together multiple wins. We get two in a row but then we lose, win, lose. I’m more concerned about winning and improving as a team than I am about individual (stats). If the team is doing well, then the individual stuff will come.”

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