Over the holiday weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers signed Kenneth Lofton Jr. to a two-way contract, releasing Javonte Smart in a related move. (It was a busy week for Smart, who had made his Sixers debut with one minute of mop-up duty the night before, was released from his two-way contract, then signed by Delaware to a standard G League contract.)
As our G League correspondent Harrison Grimm wrote following the Lofton Jr. signing, there’s reason to believe the 21-year-old big man can be an impactful player at the NBA level. He won G League Rookie of the Year last spring and scored 42 points for the Memphis Grizzlies in their regular season finale last season. Sure, the Grizzlies only had six players take the court so as to not get any regulars injured in advance of the playoffs, but 42 points is 42 points.
Well, Lofton Jr. wasted no time showing the Sixers organization he has the goods, scoring a game-high 30 points in his Delaware debut last night, as the Blue Coats beat the Capital City Go-Go, 134-126. Lofton Jr. played 29 minutes, shooting 9-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-7 from three-point range, and 8-of-10 from the foul line. Kenneth knocked down five of his six free throws inside the final minute to help the Blue Coats salt the game away. He also racked up eight rebounds, one assist and two blocks, against four turnovers.
Lofton Jr. can utilize his big frame to carve out space on the interior.
But he also has a smooth stroke from the perimeter.
Here was Delaware head coach Mike Longabardi on Lofton Jr. after the win (per GLeague.NBA.com):
“He’s an extremely talented player, very high IQ. We’re extremely happy to have him. For the first game, I thought that he exceeded all of our expectations.”
Currently, the Blue Coats have a number of players who look like they could be contributors at the NBA level. There’s the three two-way players (Lofton Jr., Terquavion Smith and Ricky Council IV), Smart and Darius Bazley, who scored 43 points for Delaware a week ago. It’s a good position for the Sixers to be in, considering they might have open roster spots in a month or so if they need to send out a couple contracts in a salary-aggregating trade.
Anyway, Lofton Jr. has already shown he’s a player to keep an eye on down in Delaware. We’ll keep watching him work down in the G League and see if he gets a shot with the big club in the near future.