Milwaukee Bucks: Frank Mason III’s mission to earn a standard NBA deal

After rejuvenating his career with the Milwaukee Bucks this year, G League MVP Frank Mason III seeks a chance to earn a standard NBA deal this offseason.

Frank Mason III arrived to the Milwaukee Bucks like a man on a mission upon signing his two-way contract with the club last offseason.

It’s safe to say that Mason accomplished said mission after being named this season’s G League Most Valuable Player and averaging 25.3 points per game on .502/.428/.815 splits and 4.8 assists per game while showing off the same high-level scoring ability that made him a star in the college ranks.

But given the Bucks’ overwhelming success during the regular season, Mason played a very irregular role within the Bucks’ rotation as he totaled 120 NBA minutes across both the regular season and the playoffs combined.

Now set to return to the free agency market, albeit as a restricted free agent this time around, how will Mason’s pedigree and production inform his ability to chase a standard NBA contract this offseason?

After all, Mason is among the many free agencies the Bucks will have to address over the next many pivotal weeks and months and the Bucks have the inside track to sign him to an NBA deal if they’d like given his free agent status.

For all the progress that Mason has reclaimed in finding his place within the league, simply winning this season’s G League MVP doesn’t guarantee such a thing. If anything, the recent track record is spotty for past G League MVPs as the league has grown in its relevance and the talent level has increased year after year.

Previous winners such as Chris Boucher and Lorenzo Brown, both with the Toronto Raptors, had seen their two-way deals be converted to standard contracts midway through their MVP-winning campaigns.

Milwaukee native Vander Blue had toiled away on the G League level before being named G League MVP in the 2016-17 season and briefly earned a two-way contract with the Lakers the following season before bouncing in and around the basketball world in the years since then, including a stint with the Wisconsin Herd. The same goes for Jarnell Stokes, who won the award in 2015-16 while playing with the Sioux Falls Skyforce and has bounced between the G League and playing overseas in China.

If there’s any precedent that winning a G League MVP can provide a launching pad towards getting a standard NBA contract, it belongs to journeyman guard and former Bucks player, Tim Frazier.

In the years since being named G League MVP for the 2014-15 season, Frazier has logged stints with the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, the Pelicans again, the Bucks and most recently, the Detroit Pistons. All while playing 4.579 NBA minutes since being named MVP and earning nearly $9 million over the course of his NBA career, per Spotrac.

Even after all these players have asserted themselves and won the highest individual honor the G League offers, the path towards sticking in the NBA in the aftermath of being named G League MVP is not at all covered in glory in any shape or form. And that certainly runs counter to the numerous finds and success stories that have come out of the G League for players that have been found under unlikely circumstances.

It all adds to the odds that Mason has to fight against in order to make his mark in the NBA and the questions that cloud his immediate future, even after putting in plenty of work this season while in Milwaukee and starring for the Herd.

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Whether that hard work will result in a chance to showcase his skills at the next level and more importantly, secure an NBA deal this offseason remains to be seen, but no one can say Mason hasn’t put himself in the best position to pull off such a feat after his play this season. Now we wait whether the league has taken notice.