Darius Days made this decision easy, really.
The 6-7 forward was the obvious choice for this month’s “G League Player to Watch”—not just because of his absurd individual production, but because he led the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on an impressive run to sneak into the playoffs.
First, a brief history lesson. Rio Grande Valley (RGV) has been the most successful franchise in the history of the NBA’s official minor league, reaching six finals and claiming four championships since 2010. Last season, an RGV squad led by MVP Trevelin Queen cruised to the title, going undefeated in the playoffs. The Vipers also won it all in 2019 with a roster that included Gary Payton II and Isaiah Hartenstein.
This year…it wasn’t looking good. Heading into March—the last month of the regular season—RGV had a 10-12 record. The team had dropped four of its previous five, including an embarrassing 26-point loss to the South Bay Lakers at home. If the Vipers wanted to keep their streak of six straight playoff appearances (excluding the season canceled due to COVID) alive, then they had to turn things around right away.
OK, back to Days. An undrafted rookie out of LSU, he signed a Two-Way contract with the Houston Rockets back in October. The 23-year-old is an extremely versatile forward, capable of filling multiple positions with his size, strength and mobility. He has spent most of this season with the Vipers and proven to be a reliable 3-and-D player. At the beginning of March, he stepped up big time…
27 points, 7 rebounds vs. Oklahoma City
33 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals vs. Birmingham
26 points, 10 rebounds vs. Greensboro
28 points, 11 rebounds vs. Iowa
32 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals vs. Iowa
22 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals vs. Memphis
The Vipers won all six of those games to climb back into the playoff picture, and after splitting their next four, they locked up the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Days posted 25.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game across that stretch, shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. He barely turned the ball over—just seven times in 10 games—despite averaging 38.6 minutes (the fifth highest mark in the league). Less than 72 hours after the Vipers clinched their playoff spot, he was named G League Player of the Month for March.
The Vipers upset the 2-seed Lakers in the Conference quarterfinals with guard Jalen Lecque sealing the deal with this tough game-winning lay-up. And Days? He delivered, of course: 21 points (on 7/13 shooting), 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.
You can catch Days and the Vipers in the G League Finals as they face off against the Delaware Blue Coats. Tune in now through April 9 on ESPNU and ESPNews.
Luka Garza, Forward, Iowa Wolves: 30.5 points, 10 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 blocks, 68 FG%, 46 3P% (4 GP)
Carlik Jones, Guard, Windy City Bulls: 26.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6 assists, 2.3 steals, 46 FG%, 35 3P%
Jahmi’us Ramsey, Guard, Oklahoma City Blue: 26 points, 4.4 rebounds, 58 FG%, 38 3P%
Lester Quinones, Guard, Santa Cruz Warriors: 24.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 46 FG%
Jack White, Forward, Grand Rapids Gold: 23.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 55 FG%, 38 3P%
Trevelin Queen, Guard, Fort Wayne Mad Ants: 23.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.1 steals, 50 FG%
Mfiondu Kabengele, Forward, Maine Celtics: 21.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 61 FG%, 41 3P%
Zavier Simpson, Guard, Lakeland Magic: 17.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 1.7 steals, 50 FG%, 43 3P%
REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS
Eastern Conference: Long Island Nets (23-9)
Western Conference: Stockton Kings (25-7)
Scoring Champ: Carlik Jones (26.1)
Assists Champ: Jacob Gilyard (9.7)
Rebounds Champ: Jayce Johnson (13.5)
Blocks Champ: Jay Huff (3.1)
Steals Champ: Jaden Springer (2.3)
3PT Champ: Mychal Mulder (129)
Luka Samanic, Forward, Maine Celtics to Utah Jazz
Xavier Sneed, Forward, Greensboro Swarm to Charlotte Hornets
Jay Scrubb, Guard, Lakeland Magic to Orlando Magic
Lester Quinones, Guard, Santa Cruz Warriors to Golden State Warriors (twice this month)
Trevor Keels, Guard, Westchester Knicks to New York Knicks
Lindell Wiggington, Guard, Wisconsin Herd to Milwaukee Bucks
Jamaree Bouyea, Guard, Sioux Falls Skyforce to Washington Wizards
Jared Butler, Guard, Grand Rapids Gold to Oklahoma City Thunder
Sam Merrill, Guard, Cleveland Charge to Cleveland Cavaliers
Jay Huff, Center, South Bay Lakers to Washington Wizards
Xavier Moon, Guard, Ontario Clippers to Los Angeles Clippers
Willie Cauley-Stein, Center, Rio Grande Valley Vipers to Houston Rockets
Kobi Simmons, Guard, Greensboro Swarm to Charlotte Hornets
Gabe York, Guard, Fort Wayne Mad Ants to Indiana Pacers
Skylar Mays, Guard, Mexico City Capitanes to Portland Trail Blazers
Shaquille Harrison, Guard, South Bay Lakers to Portland Trail Blazers
Jeenathan Williams, Guard, Salt Lake City Stars to Portland Trail Blazers
Justin Minaya, Forward, Mexico City Capitanes to Portland Trail Blazers
Photos via Getty Images.
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