The “Baby of the Big 3” Deserves Another NBA Shot
“You’re a shootin’ motherf*****” Allen Iverson, 11-time NBA All-Star and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer said of Xavier Silas after he scored 20 points, including the game-winning four-point shot against Iverson’s 3’s Company in Ice Cube’s three-on-three Big 3 league last summer.
Selected by Tri-State with the No. 4 overall pick—later traded to Ball Hogs—Xavier Silas was the youngest player taken in the Big 3’s inaugural draft on April 30, 2017. At 29-years-old, most of Silas’ peers were a decade his elder and had far more professional experience and success. Members of the league, who will likely all return for the second season, included NBA royalty such as Allen Iverson (captain/coach), Julius Erving (coach), Clyde Drexler (coach) Rick Barry (coach), George Gervin (coach), Chauncey Billups (captain), Gary Payton (coach), along with former stars Mike Bibby, Stephen Jackson, Cuttino Mobley, Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal, among others, all who are participating as players. While most of the veterans were lacing ‘em up in front of a high capacity crowd for the first time in years, rekindling their triumphant pasts, Silas’ dream of being what his peers once were is still real, mainly because he’s been so close so many times.
Silas, a 6-foot-5 guard and son of San Antonio Spurs legend James Silas, went undrafted in 2011 and found himself in the NBA G-League with the Boston Celtics affiliate Maine Red Claws. He finally got his NBA chance when the Philadelphia 76ers signed him for the rest of the season in April of 2012. Silas played in two second-round playoff games against Boston and was brought back that summer to prove himself in the NBA Summer League. During the final game of the summer, Silas’ dream was cut short after suffering a concussion which required surgery on several sinus fractures.
From 2012 to 2016, Silas bounced around the G-League, tried his luck overseas, and signed a contract with the Washington Wizards before being waived a month later. As of 2018, he is back in the G-League for the second consecutive season as a starting guard for the Phoenix Suns affiliate Northern Arizona Suns and is between seasons of the Big 3. Though returning to the Big 3 in the summer of 2018 would be a great experience, signing an NBA contract and spending the summer preparing for the season would be ideal.
“Since I have experience, I’m not going to be a project or someone a team will have to wait on,” Silas said. “I’m already polished and am not afraid to knock down every three-point shot I take. Being able to come in and help a team win games is something not a lot of G-League guys can offer.”
Polished, he is. In 20 games with the Northern Arizona Suns this season, Silas is averaging 18.3 points on a career-best 45.7 percent shooting from the field and 42.2 percent shooting from three-point range. Silas is a gunslinger, and in today’s fast paced, three-point oriented NBA, he would fit right in.
Joe Connelly, Director of Basketball Operations for the Big 3 and former Washington Wizards Player Development Coach, says Xavier Silas is not your average G-League player—he’s been through it all, is still hungry, and can be utilized by any NBA team.
“[NBA] teams should look for guys who withstood adversity… I think that’s such an underrated component of evaluating players and [Silas] has been through it all,” Connelly said. “Shooters are needed in today’s league. Every NBA player has that one elite skill outside of the superstars, Silas’ s being an elite three-point shooter. [How] the Houston Rockets utilized Troy Daniels a few years back, Silas can spread the floor and knock down shots off the bench for a team.”
During the Big 3’s opening season, Silas made sure to work his tail off and perform at his best knowing who was watching. A teammate of his father with the San Antonio Spurs in the 1970’s, George Gervin was one of many former players Silas formed relationships with and could go to for advice or hope for the future. Along with Gervin, Silas credits Stephen Jackson (his biological cousin), Brian Scalabrine, Gary Payton, Chauncey Billups, DerMarr Johnson, Al Harrington, and Clyde Drexler, among others, as people who have said something along the lines of, ‘you deserve to be in the NBA right now, I’m gonna make a few calls for you.’
“Getting that stamp approval from Hall of Famers and former stars is unreal,” Silas said. “For them to compliment my game… oh man.”
If Silas is able to get another NBA call up, Joe Connelly says it’d be a “dream came true” for founder Ice Cube and President Roger Mason Jr, that a player can use the league to get to the highest level.
“[If] a guy were to make it to the NBA by using the Big 3 as a platform for attention and more notoriety, it would be a dream come true for Ice Cube and Roger Mason Jr.,” Connelly said. “It would also give hope for more players in the future after seeing someone made it through the Big 3.”
Xavier Silas will not give up until he is back in the NBA. Turning 30-years old in late January, some think franchises would rather put their chips on someone who is younger and has more potential. But realistically, Silas is still relatively young and is still improving as well. Since his first taste of G-League basketball in 2011-12, Silas has improved his scoring averages and three-point percentages each season. The Indiana Pacers gave Silas hope after signing 37-year-old forward Damien Wilkins at the start of the 2017-18 season, proving an experienced veteran had more glimmer than a young kid.
“You have to be resilient in this field and being resilient and not chasing a paycheck overseas will get me where I want to be,” Silas concluded. “Knowing what it feels like to play in the league gives me constant hunger… I will get back.”