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NBA G League Vet Ike Nwamu has Best Career Stint with NAZ Suns

By Jacob Withee | July 21, 2020

A player’s career span in the NBA G League is relatively short. In the history of the league, only 25 players have reached the 200 games played threshold, equivalent to four full seasons played in the league. Ike Nwamu has played in 172 career games, tied for 56th most in NBA G League history, so it’s fair to say he’s a true veteran of the league. It’s also fair to say he just had his best career stint playing with the Northern Arizona Suns.

The Suns traded for Nwamu in January. He was in the middle of a strong season, averaging 11.4 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Upon joining the Suns, he immediately became one of the top offensive forces on the team, finishing his 2019-20 NAZ stint averaging 17.7 points (49.0 FG%, 41.2 3PT%, 70.9 FT%) and 3.1 rebounds in 20 games. It was a big improvement from his numbers the previous year with Fort Wayne and Wisconsin, where he posted 7.1 PPG (37.5 FG%, 31.0 3PT%, 73.7 FT%) and 2.1 RPG. With the Suns, he averaged career-highs for a season in scoring, field goal shooting, three-point shooting, and was just 0.2 RPG short of his career-high 3.3 RPG mark for Sioux Falls in 2017-18. In his span on the team, he averaged the second most points on the Suns.

Nwamu has played the last four years in the NBA G League for five different teams. He made his Suns debut on Jan. 11 at Oklahoma City and played 27 strong minutes, posting 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting in a Suns’ 108-93 win. In the very next game, Nwamu went off for 28 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-2 from distance, in 30 minutes off the bench. The UNLV alum did it again in the next Suns game, tallying 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-6 from deep, and three assists in 32 minutes. In his first three games with the Suns, he had two of the team’s top 10 all-time scoring games off the bench, as he averaged 23.3 points on 23-of-34 (.676) shooting, 8-of-16 (.500) from three-point land.

After two off-games, Nwamu began a run that was unparalleled in his career. First, he dropped a season-high 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-7 from downtown, adding a season-high-tying seven rebounds in 25 minutes at Agua Caliente in a 117-88 win. He had a +33 in plus-minus, the highest plus-minus in a game by a Suns player all season. It was the highest plus-minus mark by a Suns player in a game since Shaquille Harrison posted a +39 vs. Santa Cruz on Dec. 12, 2017.

In the seven-game stretch, Nwamu scored 20+ points five times, averaging 21.1 points (47.1 FG%, 46.8 3PT%, 81.8 FT%) and 2.6 rebounds. By the end of the stretch, Nwamu had played in 12 total games with the Suns, scoring 20+ points seven times. Per Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the tied-second most 20+ point games off the bench in a player’s first 12 games with a team in NBA G League history.

Nwamu finished 2019-20 scoring 10+ points in 15 straight games, a career-long stretch, surpassing his 10-game run from Dec. 15, 2017, through Jan. 5, 2018, while with Sioux Falls. He had nine 20+ point games in his 20 games with NAZ. With all nine coming off the bench, he sur­passed Josh Gray (five, 2016-17) for the most 20+ point games off the bench in a single-season in team histo­ry. He has also tied the most career 20+ point games off the bench in team history (Gray).

If Nwamu chooses to play a fifth season in the NBA G League, he is primed to be towards the top of the all-time leaderboards. As it sits now, Nwamu has made the 18th most three-pointers in league history (354), he has attempted the 15th most three-pointers (989), he has played the 72nd most minutes (4,362), and he has scored the 85th most points (1,961). Only 42 players have scored 2,500+ career points, a mark very attainable if Nwamu plays another season.

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