Former LSU star Tremont Waters named the NBA’s G-League Rookie of the Year

Former LSU star and Boston Celtics two-way rookie Tremont Waters was named Thursday as the 2019-20 NBA G League Rookie of the Year.

The award is voted on by the G-League’s 28 head coaches and general managers.

Waters, selected by Boston in the second round (51st overall) of the 2019 NBA Draft, averaged 18 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 36 games with the Maine Red Claws. He finished sixth in the league in assists and 14th in steals.

The Red Claws finished third in the Eastern Conference with a 28-14 record when the season was cancelled. He was named the G League Player of the Month in November and earned a place on the 2019-20 Midseason All-NBA G League Team.

There’s a strong chance Waters will be on the Boston Celtics playoff roster when the NBA resumes play July 31 in Orlando.

Even if the NBA doesn’t expand the rosters from 15 players to 17 players with the inclusion of two-way contracts, Waters has excellent shot next week of having his two-way contract converted to a standard NBA deal.

Boston was 8-2 in the 10 games Waters played for the Celtics this season. He averaged 3.3 points, 0.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 8.9 minutes. His last appearance was March 4 in Cleveland, when he was called up because the Celtics had plethora of injuries. Waters played 16 minutes in six-point win over the Cavs, scoring five points and dealing two assists.

“We are so happy for Tremont,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a press release. “He had a fantastic G League season on both ends of the court and continued to improve all the facets of his game while leading a winning team. This recognition is well-deserved.”

Waters, who played at LSU for two years, was a first-team All-SEC point guard in 2018-19. He averaged 15.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.9 assists when he led the Tigers to the SEC regular season championship and advanced LSU to the NCAA’s Sweet 16.

Despite showing time and again his fearless clutch play, including spinning in a game-winning layup in the Tigers’ NCAA second-round tourney win over Maryland, NBA GMs and scouts had reservations that the 5-foot 10 Waters could be as effective on the pro level because of his lack of size.

Once the G-League started, he began changing opinions.

Keith Waters (no relation to Tremont) of Yahoo Sports tweeted that an NBA front office executive said of Tremont, “I told our GM to trade for him, because he’s better than what we have today.”

An NBA scout admitted to Keith Waters, “I missed on him. Big time. Thought was too small for our league. But he’s tough and fast. I don’t know what he’ll be beyond it, but he’s an NBA backup point guard at least. And that’s valuable because everyone plays three PGs a night now.”

Center Tacko Fall, another Celtics’ rookie on a two-way contract, raved about playing with Waters.

“Tremont playing in the NBA right now, Tremont is just like a magician with the ball,” Fall said in March on his podcast on The Athletic. “That little man can hoop. I’ve seen Tremont do some stuff where I’m like, ‘Wow! This man.’ He is so intelligent.”

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Ron Higgins

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