The D-League held their annual draft on Thursday night via Teleconference over the course of 2 hours. There were plenty of ups and downs throughout the night, and as always, we were there with the inside scoop. Jim Hlavac made his way to Anaheim to examine the reactions of the fan-base, Mike Schmidt sat in the war room of the Iowa Energy, and Richard Walker examined the NBATV coverage from the comfort of his living room. We also provide an overview of the first round of the draft, as well as a look at some value picks in each round of the draft. To find the full draft list, please visit the official D-League homepage. Draft Party in AnaheimJim Hlavac
In D-League cities across the country, fans gathered at draft parties hosted by the local teams. In Anaheim, the Arsenal entered their second season in franchise history by hosting a draft party at a local sports bar.
A crowd of approximately 75 gathered as fans were able to mingle with ownership, management, staff and cheerleaders. The Arsenal organization provided appetizers for the party while the NBA D-League Draft was shown on large screen televisions throughout the bar.
The crowd came to a hush in anticipation of the Arsenal's first round pick. As Kedrick Brown
was announced, the crowd's cheers of approval was followed by the soon-to-be question of the night - "Who's he?"
Much of the talk among the fans centered around two former players - Steven Smith
and Andre Owens
. Smith is one of four players scheduled to return to the team this season. He played in 23 games with the club last year averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Owens spent the entire year with Anaheim last year and is now with the Indiana Pacers. In the Pacers' 119-110 victory last night, Owens had 5 points in 9 minutes, proving that the D-League has become a working farm system for NBA teams..
Following each pick, the Arsenal raffled off gear including jerseys, shorts, a team flag and a game-used Andre Owens
Overall, things are looking up in Anaheim as the Arsenal expect to compete for the West Division title in 2007-08.An Inside Look at the War-RoomMike Schmidt
Thursday nights D-League draft contained a number of interesting story lines, and as always, we were there to cover them. One of the more interesting situations developed from the war room of the Iowa Energy. In the D-League draft, each team receives 90 seconds on the clock to make their pick through the teleconference system, which each team is dialed in to. The Bakersfield Jam and head coach Jim Harrick were nowhere to be found after their 90 seconds. Not wasting any time, the Iowa Energy jumped in and picked Dwayne Mitchell
. Minutes later, an angry voice could be heard from Bakersfield over the phone line, but the damage had already been done. The Jam forfeited their first round pick, and were given an additional selection at the end of the draft to compensate. It turned out that Harrick decided to watch the draft on television, not realizing that the broadcast lagged far behind the real-life action.
The war room at the Iowa Energy draft party remained busy through the duration of the draft. Head coach Nick Nurse had the final say in each pick, but the room was filled with constant chatter on who the next pick should be. The walls were lined with three marker boards, each containing a different list. The first list contained a ranking of best players available, the second list had the Energys targets by round, and the third board ranked the best players by each position. Each draft pick was closely tracked by the staff of the Energy, and players were crossed off on the board as the selections came in over the phone.
The war room was located in back of a sports bar, where over a hundred season ticket holders gathered with excitement as the team composed their inaugural roster. After making the selections, Nick Nurse took some time away from the war room to address the crowd on each selection. Based on the draft party crowd and season ticket sales, Des Moines looks like a great market for a D-League team.First Round Analysis1. Eddie Gill, Colorado 14ers-
Gill brings years of NBA experience, and some scoring and distributing ability to the 14ers. The point guard position can be tough to fill for D-League teams, and the veteran guard was the best available player at his position. Gill will combine with Elton Brown
to form one of the better duos in the D-League.2. Carlos Powell, Dakota Wizards-
Dakota added the best scorer in the draft to a front-line that already returns two key players from last season. Powell could be one of the first call-ups to the NBA, but his dynamic scoring will propel the Wizards at both forward positions. Some observers believe Powell to be an early candidate to lead the league in points per game. 3. Darvin Ham, Albuquerque Thunderbirds-
Ham brings years of NBA experience to the Thunderbirds along with his energetic style of play. The Thunderbirds only return one player from last years squad, and Ham could become the face of the franchise right away. 4. Jamal Tatum, Idaho Stampede-
The Stampede needed a rookie (each team must have at least 1) and more depth in the backcourt, and went for both in the first round with Tatum. The rookie guard plays great defense, and will likely see time at both guard slots. His point guard skills could improve dramatically under the veteran tutelage of Randy Livingston
.5. C.J. Watson Rio Grande Valley Vipers-
The coaches of the Charlotte Bobcats were happy with the performance of Watson in the pre-season, and he may have the highest upside of any point guard in the D-League draft-pool from this year. His command of a team will make him a favorite of his teammates and the fans of the expansion team from Texas. 6. Nik Caner-Medley, Sioux Falls Skyforce-
The combo-forward struggled with injuries in his first year out of college, but reportedly played very well during training camp with the Kings. His slashing ability and size could be lethal against D-League competition. 7. Larry Turner, Fort Wayne Mad Ants-
Fort Wayne entered draft night loaded with top tier wing players in Jeremy Richardson
, Sammy Mejia
and Justin Cage
so taking a big man only made sense. Turner has all the physical tools in the world making him a very unique center prospect, but must develop his raw offensive game. 8. Jelani McCoy, Los Angeles D-Fenders-
The D-Fenders also return a talented group of guards, and needed the best available big man. McCoy has more experience than any of the other big men in the draft pool, and the pick made perfect sense considering his strong performance in the pre-season with the Nuggets. It also helps that McCoy played his college ball at UCLA and has previous Lakers experience on his resume. 9. Kedrick Brown, Anaheim Arsenal-
Brown appears to be the biggest risk of the first round selections, though he probably has the highest potential payoff as well. If he focused on getting back into shape, the talented guard has the athleticism to make it back to the NBA. 10. Kevin Kruger, Utah Flash-
The last remaining top tier point guard on the board, Kruger will fill a big position of need for the flash. His command of an offense and outside shooting should make him one of the better lead guards in the D-League, along with his strong intangibles. 11. Glen McGowan, Tulsa 66ers-
After seeing success in his first season in Europe, McGowan could potentially lead the D-League in scoring. The 66ers were fortunate to receive a top tier talent this late in the first round, especially considering how rare skilled big men are in the D-League. 12. Kevin Pittsnogle, Austin Toros-
Pittsnogle possesses a nice set of offensive skills for a big man, highlighted by his perimeter shooting stroke. He struggled at times in the CBA last season, however, and weighs in at a reported 270 pounds right now. This pick could go in either direction, depending on if Pittsnogle can gain his old form and drop some weight. 14. Dwayne Mitchell, Iowa Energy
A freak athlete with an NBA-ready body, Mitchell provides the Energy with a dynamic scoring threat. The 25 year old guard struggled through turnover problems in college, and will need to focus on becoming a lockdown defender in the D-League. He will be a fan favorite in Iowa, though. Value Picks by RoundRound 2: Adam Harrington, Tulsa 66ers-
A talented scorer, Harrington brings a consistent perimeter shooting stroke that Tulsa lacked for parts of last season. His game will nicely compliment that of returning small forward Mike Hall
. Round 3: Ricky Woods, Idaho Stampede-
Somewhat of a tweener, the athletic Woods will need to focus on developing a three point stroke. His athleticism will allow him to contribute right away, and the coaching of Brian Gates should go a long way with his development. Round 4: DeAndre Rice, Tulsa 66ers-
Though undersized for a 2-guard, Rice has a deadly outside shooting stroke. The rookie guard proved to be a dynamic scorer for Florida Atlantic at the college level, averaging 22 ppg while shooting 40% from three last season. Round 5: Alfred Neale, Iowa Energy-
In the late rounds of the draft, its important to find solid back-ups who can contribute, and Neale has the experience to play a role for Iowa. The veteran small forward has played a few years of minor league basketball, including a stint with the Dakota Wizards last season. Round 6: Armein Kirkland, Dakota Wizards-
Before an unfortunate knee injury, Kirkland was in the process of breaking out at the University of Cincinnati. If he could regain old form physically, he could become a very versatile prospect in the D-League. He's a small forward with great size and nice ball-handling skills. Round 7: Daryl Dorsey, Austin Toros-
Dorsey averaged 12 points per game with Anaheim in his second D-League season last year. He can bring scoring punch off the bench, but must focus on improving his perimeter stroke. Round 8: James Beasley, Iowa Energy-
Beasley played Division 2 college basketball at Morehouse, and has some work to do before he can escape the project label. He has a couple of skills inside to work with, and could turn into a solid center with a better fundamental understanding of the game. Round 9: Gary Hill-Thomas, Utah Flash-
A solid defender, Hill-Thomas averaged 13.6 points per game in the D-League 3 years ago. After struggling to find a team over the past couple seasons, he will look to regain his form in a familiar setting. Round 10: Ronald Blackshear, Austin Toros-
A scoring guard, Blackshear has a load of international player experience at various levels. He just might have the scoring ability to become a solid D-League bench player. Fan Interest Growing Along with LeagueRichard Walker
As the NBAs budding developmental league grows and gains popularity so too grows its media footprint; from their own televised All-Star game in Las Vegas last year, and the numerous games shown nationally on NBATV, they move on to the 2007 NBA Developmental League Draft with the first three rounds shown live just like the big boys. And it doesnt stop there: the upcoming season will showcase more D-League games than ever before, and in fact, one new team on the block, the Utah Flash, will have every one of their home games shown locally. The D-League is only getting bigger folks, and we here at DraftExpress are following suit by bringing you even more coverage of the games, players and personnel found in this burgeoning and dynamic league.
To keep pace with the D-Leagues ever-expanding fan base, NBATV took its coverage to new heights with looks into the war room of several teams, the head office, draft parties, and even conducted interviews with a team owner and General Manager. Veteran D-League play-by-play man, and noted fantasy guru, Rick Kamla, kept the festivities light and fun, while still attempting to illicit the kind of insights hardcore fans want from commentator, and Director of Scouting, Marty Blake, and his son, and Assistant Director of Scouting, Ryan Blake.
Lest you forget, however, the D in D-League stands for developmental and there are still some kinks to work out. With such a varying array of players from unbelievably diverse, and often obscure, backgrounds, its almost impossible for even the most attuned expert to stay on top of whos who, let alone who has been drafted and is off the board. Post-draft accounts from various teams indicate that several players were almost drafted twice, and one team specifically, the Bakersfield Jam, neglected to even make a 1st round selection. Can you imagine if the New York Knicks just forgot to make a 1st round draft choice? Not only is it almost inconceivable, but if it did occur there would be riots in the streets.
But, alas, these same flaws are the reason we here at DraftExpress love the D-League. Sure, sometimes the games are ugly, sometimes the team mascot dunks in the middle of the game (Austin), and sometimes the cheerleaders get pelted with promotional rubber balls (Anaheim), but in the end these little quirks only serve to add charm and charisma to a league thats already indelibly fascinating.
With all of that said, if this years draft is any indication, the 2007-2008 season will prove to be yet another milestone in the evolution of this maturing minor league and all the promising talent that encompasses.
We cant wait to tell you about it.