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Don’t Sleep on Raphiael Putney

By Matt Dykstra | February 14, 2019

Raphiael Putney isn’t one to boast about his game, but his numbers do the talking. Now in his fourth NBA G League season, the veteran forward has become a model of sustained success that some young players can only hope to replicate.

Putney made his first and only NBA G League All-Star appearance as a member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers during the 2015-16 season, a year in which he averaged 17.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Since then, Putney’s numbers haven’t dipped at all. He’s brought the same production to both the Erie BayHawks (last season) and now the Sioux Falls Skyforce this year. Still, Putney has yet to receive a call to play at the league’s highest level, something others have received despite producing lesser numbers than he has in recent years.

Some might call that under-appreciation.

Raphiael Putney thinks of it as motivation.

“I’ve just learned from past people who have played ahead of me who also continued to have patience and appreciate the process,” said Putney. “I continue to work hard and let my craft speak for itself even when I feel like I’m an underdog.”

Though it would be easy to become discouraged, Putney has elevated his game as of late and is making yet another strong case to receive an NBA Call-Up for the first time in his career. Over his last eight games, the 6-10 forward has averaged 22.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game.

He’s scored over 20 points on six occasions in that span, and recently became the NBA G League’s all-time leader in blocked shots now with 328 in his career.

Putney has been a reliable piece to the puzzle for Skyforce Head Coach Nevada Smith this season despite the constant roster turnover that comes with the nature of the G League.

“[Putney] has been a calming presence on our roster all year,” said Coach Smith. “He has been through the grind before and understands the ability of being patient. He’s played all but one game for us in a season of constant roster turnover, and his work ethic has been great throughout the entire year.”

He’s a team first player. His numbers don’t always jump off the page, and even when they do, he won’t draw your attention to it. However, for anyone that’s caught a Skyforce game this season, his play speaks loud enough.

He may be flying under the NBA’s radar, but NBA G League opponents and Skyforce fans alike know that Putney is never more than a play away from putting someone in a poster, or preventing one on the other end of the floor.

Coming in at 6′ 10″ and weighing around 190 pounds, there’s no one quite like him in the league. However, Putney’s ball-handling, shooting ability, athleticism and versatility have helped him leave even the strongest opponents in the dust. He’s carved out a unique role for each team he’s played for, a role that could transition nicely into today’s faster-paced NBA culture.

“I just hope NBA teams can see what I can bring to a team despite being being slim and wiry,” said Putney. “I’ve been doing it for the past five years. I’m just keeping my head down and playing through any adversity that comes my way. I know my time will come eventually.”