The Main Red Claws defeated the Delaware Blue Coats 112-109 in a nail-biter of a game in the NBA G League on Friday night, and all the glory went to Red Claws guard P.J. Dozier, the team's star player, who knocked down a buzzer-beating three-point shot for the win.
However, former Pitt forward Sheldon Jeter played a pivotal role in the Red Claws’ victory, as he came off the bench and led the team with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including a 6-of-9 performance from beyond the arc. In addition, he tied the game at 105 on a layup with just over a minute left to play and then came up with a clutch block at the other end of the court on the subsequent play.
What’s more, the Blue Coat whose shot Jeter blocked was Philadelphia 76ers veteran center Amir Johnson, who was playing in Delaware at his own request after spending much of the past two seasons coming off the bench for the 76ers. He has since been recalled for the Sixers' matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
All told, Jeter contributed seven rebounds, a game-high three blocks, two assists and a steal in addition to his 22 points, and his effort was enough to keep the Red Claws afloat as the Blue Coats waned in the fourth quarter, with an abysmal 13-point showing in that late phase of the game.
Jeter has only averaged 7.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game with the Red Claws this season, but all that has come in an average of 17.1 minutes per game. His per-48 stats bear a closer resemblance to the performances he has put on when given a chance to play extended minutes, as was the case on Friday, when he saw 32 minutes of action. Going by that metric, Jeter is averaging 21.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per 48 minutes, or roughly what he did on Friday.
The Beaver Falls native’s ability to produce so efficiently stems from his solid shooting, as he is currently converting on 46.8 percent of his field goals, 43.4 percent of his three-point shots and 96.4 percent of his free throws. He took that to an extreme on Feb. 11, when he scored 20 points on 100 percent shooting from the field against Raptors 905.
Given all that, it appears Jeter is trending in the right direction, and if he continues to do so, he may earn additional playing time or even a starting job in Maine. However, to become a starter, he will need to leapfrog Vitto Brown and Andrew White III, both of whom have started regularly in the Red Claws frontcourt.