To say Jameel Warney’s rookie season in the NBA G League was a success would be a huge understatement. After going to camp with the Dallas Mavericks, Warney found his home for the 2016-2017 season in Frisco with the Legends. He went on to play 44 of the team’s 50 games –starting 34 times– and averaged 17.3 points, 8.0 rebounds (3.3 offensive boards), 1.4 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.
The 24-year old big man also shot over 70 percent from the free throw line and 58 percent from the field. As I said, success wouldn’t dare cover the ground that the former Stony Brook star covered in his debut.
During the All-Star break, Warney had a lot of things come together. First, he had his number 20 retired at Stony Brook and second, he started to get fully healthy after missing a chunk of January.
“Coming back off the injury before the All-Star break, I just had time to relax. Coach MacKinnon gave me more tips to be more efficient and how to use my body to my advantage. I really listened to him and started to score a lot more. I credit the coaching staff for putting me in situations to succeed.”
Warney’s first three games coming out of the break: 30 points and 14 rebounds, 26 points and 10 rebounds and 35 points with eight rebounds.
“That was a special stretch of games for me. After getting my jersey retired, I feel like I started playing really well. After the L.A. Defenders game (the first game after the break on February 22nd), I kind of took off and kept being consistent after that. You see me getting more comfortable with the offense, it was great for me. I thought it was a really special experience for me to have such a great few months after the break.”
In the second half of the season, he was unstoppable. Four times he surpassed 30 points, nine times he grabbed 10 or more rebounds and he posted a monstrous 24 points, 20 rebound game on March 11th.
Warney had quite the summer as you know, not only winning a gold medal at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup, but also winning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
“It was a great experience for me, a great opportunity. I led the team in some categories and we played well. I got to learn from Jeff Van Gundy for three weeks so it was a great experience for me and we won a gold medal.”
Oh yeah, he also won a Summer League championship in Orlando with the Mavericks.
“I’m happy with two championships in a summer. Can’t argue with that.”
His stellar rookie season has earned him an opportunity for an encore performance. On Friday Warney re-signed with the Dallas Mavericks. A summer full of accolades sees him back in the organization where his career began. #BULLYSZN part two will take in north Texas.
“It’s great to be back. There’s comfortability here with the Legends organization. I love the guys here, they take care of me and the team. Not just the team, but they’re a great organization. I’m happy they wanted me back and they can really help me out a lot in achieving my dream to make it to the NBA.”
Warney’s memories of last season are as numerous on the court as they are off of it. Strong relationships and team chemistry were built with high respects in that locker room. “Basketball is obviously on the floor, but off the court too I got along with all the guys. It’s a big family and I’ve definitely made some long-term friends on this team. On the court, it’s so much fun. We have so much freedom and score a lot of points. Who doesn’t like to score a lot of points? I have those memories that make me excited for this season.”
Returning to the Legends means getting back together with Head Coach Bob MacKinnon, who led the Legends to a franchise best 25 wins last season. “He’s probably one of the greatest G League coaches around. He’s got so many call-ups and is respected for his role in basketball. I’m happy to reunite with him. Everyone who’s coming back is. They know what a great guy he is and that he’ll have our back.”
A new year means new opportunities and Warney has seized every single one thrown his way since becoming a pro last summer. This season he envisions even grander results because of one big reason above others: health. “I’m 100 percent. Last year I had an ankle sprain going into training camp which made me a little hesitant. This year I’m going full speed. I have a lot of confidence. I know what to expect this season and I’m just ready to go this year.”
As for the team, breaking new ground after last year’s 25 wins is definitely in the cards. “Obviously everyone is trying to push for a title. We’re going to try to be the best team we can be, take one game at a time, try to win every game and get better while we’re doing it.”