NBA G League Player to Watch (February Edition): Carlik Jones
It was hard not to go with Mac McClung.
In the span of a few days, the Delaware Blue Coats guard earned a call-up from the Philadelphia 76ers, signed a sneaker deal with Puma, and, oh yeah, brought back the NBA Slam Dunk Contest with an unforgettable performance in Salt Lake City (also, I have to call out this 360 layup from Monday night). But…
Carlik Jones has been that good. Really, pretty much unstoppable. The Windy City Bulls star has been one of the best players in the G League all season, and just wrapped up perhaps the busiest month of his career so far. It started with a dominant performance against the Herd in Wisconsin: Jones dropped 40 points on 16/25 shooting from the field and 8/9 from three on February 3. Two days later, he took the court in Greensboro and hung 31 points, 10 assists, and 3 steals on the Swarm. Not a bad road trip.
After going undrafted out of Louisville, Jones first joined the G League in October of 2021, when he was acquired by the Texas Legends. He immediately established himself as an elite scorer and playmaker—on opening day against the Lakeland Magic, he casually put up 37 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in a win.
Jones always plays at his own pace, patient and under control. He lulls defenses to sleep and then attacks the paint with force (I was there at the Comerica Center when he did this… and oh my God). At just 6-0, he relies on his athleticism, exceptional handles, and nifty footwork to create offense, both for himself and for others. Pull up any highlight video of Jones and you’ll see the full package: he shoots confidently from behind the arc, stops on a dime for smooth midrange jumpers, finishes through and around rim protectors at the basket, and finds teammates for easy opportunities.
Last year, Jones led the Legends to the second round of the playoffs and was named to the NBA G League All-Rookie Team and the All-NBA G League Third Team. He began this season on a standard G League contract but was called up to the Chicago Bulls in December, inking a two-way deal. Since then, he has mostly remained in the G, but did manage to score the second field goal of his NBA career in Paris when the Bulls met the Detroit Pistons in January’s NBA Paris Game.
Appearing in eight G League contests throughout February, Jones averaged 27.5 points (on 46% shooting), 8.1 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 2 steals. Windy City, a team fighting for a playoff spot, went 6-2 in those games. Jones also logged 22 minutes for Chicago—the most he’s received in an NBA game to date—during a nationally-televised matchup with the Bucks on Feb. 16 (he finished with 1 point, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists).
From there, Jones was off to Salt Lake City for All-Star Weekend. He was one of 24 players invited to participate in the first-ever G League Next Up Game, which also featured previous “Players to Watch” Luka Garza, Kenneth Lofton Jr., and Isaiah Mobley.
Of course, McClung was the G Leaguer who stole the show out in Utah. The spotlight has (rightfully so) found him in February, and he has used it to help promote the level of talent in the G. Asked to deliver a message to NBA executives, McClung said, “I’d really encourage them to watch the G League. There’s a lot of people in the G League who deserve the same light.”
People like Carlik Jones.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (FEBRUARY STATS)
Xavier Moon, Guard, Ontario Clippers: 26.4 points, 5.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 52 FG%, 47 3P%
Johnny Juzang, Guard, Salt Lake City Stars: 26.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 49 FG%, 41 3P%
Alize Johnson, Forward, Wisconsin Herd: 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 66 FG%
DaQuan Jeffries, Guard, Westchester Knicks: 23.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 steals, 1.1 blocks, 49 FG%
Lester Quinones, Guard, Santa Cruz Warriors: 23.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 47 FG%, 38 3P%
Kenneth Faried, Forward, Mexico City Capitanes: 13.9 points, 14.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 2.3 blocks, 49 FG%
Chris Chiozza, Guard, Long Island Nets: 14.7 points, 8.4 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 52 FG%, 52 3P%
Willie Cauley-Stein, Forward, Rio Grande Valley Vipers to Houston Rockets
P.J. Dozier, Guard, Iowa Wolves to Sacramento Kings
Kris Dunn, Guard, Capital City Go-Go to Utah Jazz
Frank Jackson, Guard, Salt Lake City Stars to Utah Jazz
Keaton Wallace, Guard, Ontario Clippers to Los Angeles Clippers
Nate Darling, Guard, Ontario Clippers to Los Angeles Clippers
Mac McClung, Guard, Delaware Blue Coats to Philadelphia 76ers
Olivier Sarr, Forward, Oklahoma City Blue to Oklahoma City Thunder
Joe Wieskamp, Forward, Wisconsin Herd to Toronto Raptors
Quenton Jackson, Guard, Capital City Go-Go to Washington Wizards
Stanley Umude, Guard, Motor City Cruise to Detroit Pistons
Jamaree Bouyea, Guard, Sioux Falls Skyforce to Miami Heat
Photos via Getty Images.