Inside the D-League (#4)

Inside the D-League (#4)
Jan 31, 2006, 11:32 pm
Around the D-League

Hayes rewarding the Rockets- After being impressed by his performance in the D-League, the Houston Rockets signed forward Chuck Hayes for the remainder of the season. Hayes, who was signed by the Rockets on January 18th, has averaged 7 points and 8 rebounds in 7 games, and has made some big plays for them in crucial stretches so far. The Rockets have been struggling with injuries the entire season, and their decision to sign Hayes comes as little surprise. Houston scouts have been impressed by him for a long time, and only a bad ankle prevented the Rockets from signing Hayes in early December. It looks like a great fit early on for the 2005 Portsmouth MVP.

Ramos and Wright back to the D-League- After being called up by their respective teams, Bracey Wright and Peter John Ramos have been sent back to the NBDL. Wright played in 2 games for the Timberwolves scoring 6 points in 2 games, and Ramos didn’t appear in a game with the Wizards. Bracey will rejoin the Florida Flame where he will be reunited with his former Timberwolves teammate Dwayne Jones. Ramos will give the Roanoke Dazzle their only NBA assigned player. With these two players back in the NBDL, there are now a total of 12 NBA players assigned to the D-League.

Mateen Cleaves called back to Seattle- After being cut in early January for financial reasons, Mateen Cleaves was signed by the Sonics on January 28th. After initially being released, Cleaves spent a short amount of time with the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBDL. He will look to spend this 10 day tenure backing up Luke Ridnour for a Sonics team in desperate need of leadership and point guard depth.

NBA workouts- With injuries and possible trades looming on the horizon, NBA teams have started to work out D-League players. Ime Udoka received a workout and a hard look from the Spurs before they decided to go with Melvin Sanders. Udoka has also drawn interest from a few other teams, including Cleveland. Point guards MaJic Dorsey and Will Conroy worked out for the Orlando Magic, who are currently shopping Steve Francis. Dorsey also worked out for the Denver Nuggets along with Yuta Tabuse of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. Center Luke Schenscher of the Fort Worth Flyers was worked out by the Spurs, who have 1 open roster spot remaining. The Boston Celtics have an open roster spot as a result of the Ricky Davis trade, and could look to the NBDL for some help. More D-Leaguers could be given a shot over the next few months, as more trades will happen, and injuries will continue to plague teams.

Jones traded….sort of- After finding out he was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics, center Dwayne Jones was pulled out of his D-League game at halftime. Jones was left sitting on the bench watching his teammates play the second half while thinking about the transaction, and what it would mean for his future. After completing his physical, Jones was sent back to the Florida Flame, who are the affiliate D-League team for both the Celtics and the Wolves. Though he belongs to an NBA team, Jones remains a member of Florida, where he has played 2 games since the trade.

Pape moves up, Lang breaking out- After a solid performance in the NBDL, Pape Sow was called back up to the Toronto Raptors. Pape has performed well for the Raptors, and even started a couple games, but the Arkansas Rimrockers haven’t missed him as much as people thought they would. This is because James Lang has stepped up big time in the 7 games since Sow was called up. Over this stretch, Lang has averaged 19ppg and 10rpg. Lang is still only a 6’9” center, and though he isn’t in the best shape, he looks a lot better than he has in the past. If he can stay out of foul trouble and keep up this current performance level, good things are in store for the former undrafted high schooler James Lang.

NBDL Showcase 2006

During Martin Luther King Day weekend over 60 NBA scouts and personnel gathered in Fayetteville, North Carolina to watch 8 NBDL games. Known as the D-League Showcase, this event featured all 8 teams, and some very solid performances by a lot of players. The players on the following list stood out in the eyes of two NBA scouts DraftExpress has been corresponding with regularly:

Joe Shipp, Albuquerque Thunderbirds

Per game averages: 17.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 47.8%FG, 22.0% 3 point

A two guard who is effective at creating his own shot, Shipp scored 17ppg during the showcase. He has good size for an NBA shooting guard, and above average athleticism. To best improve his chances at making an NBA team, Shipp needs to work on his outside shot. He is only shooting 22% from the 3 point line, and has taken 50 attempts on the season.

Andre Barrett, Florida Flame

Per game averages: 16.5 points, 6.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 47.7%FG, 33.3% 3 point

A small but quick point guard, Barrett is very versatile on the floor, and has the ability to create for others and hit shots himself. Though size will always hurt him (especially guarding bigger point guards), Barrett has the rest of the tools it takes to contribute in the NBA, including strong intangibles, and could make a nice third point guard somewhere.

Tierre Brown, Albuquerque Thunderbirds

Per game averages: 14.9 points, 6.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 45.3%FG, 20.0% 3 point

A point guard with NBA experience, Brown has displayed that he’s ready to get back into to the big leagues in his tenure with the Thunderbirds. His turnover numbers are currently high, but Tierre averages over 6 assists per game, and had an impressive triple double with 18 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds in a win recently over the Fort Worth Flyers. His three point shot currently isn’t falling, but the rest of his game is there, and Brown will get himself some looks from the NBA if he continues to perform at a high level.

Derrick Zimmerman, Austin Toros

Per game averages: 9.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 48%FG, 56%FT

Though hobbled by an ankle injury during the showcase, the extremely athletic Zimmerman displayed the ability to create well for his teammates. Derrick’s best attribute, tough defense, is always needed in the league, and he is capable of running a team at 6-4. Zimmerman hasn’t shown the ability to hit a three yet this season (0-14 from behind the arc), but the rest of his game stands out above most of the other point guards in the minor leagues.

Jamar Smith, Austin Toros

Per game averages: 11.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 49.5% FG, 65% FT

Smith is listed at 6’9,” but looks a bit closer to 6-8. He is built well, and enjoys throwing his weight around in the paint. Smith also possesses some nice post moves, and understands how to position himself for rebounds. His outside shot is inconsistent, and he will need to show more quickness if he wishes to be signed to play power forward in the NBA.

Erik Daniels, Fayetteville Patriots

Per game averages: 18.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 46.7%FG, 33.3% 3 point

At 6’7”, Daniels is a versatile forward who brings some nice skills to the table. He doesn’t force anything on offense, and averages 8 rebounds per game. Right now, he plays the power forward position, but to return to the NBA Erik Daniels will need to polish up his perimeter skills so he can handle the small forward position.

Ime Udoka, Fort Worth Flyers

Per game averages: 17.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 42.4%FG, 33.8% 3 point

Ime has NBA experience and is one of the more talented players in the D-League. Though he doesn’t possess any one skill that stands out, Udoka has a solid all-around game, with his defense probably being his best skill. Though Ime’s numbers have dropped off a little with the influx of wing players assigned to the Flyers by NBA teams, he’s still managed to play at a high level. If Udoka keeps performing on a consistent basis, there is no reason to think he won’t get a shot from an NBA team this season.

Will Conroy, Tulsa 66ers

Per game averages: 12.9 points, 5.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 49.4%FG, 37.8% 3 point

Conroy had to share the ball-handling duties in college playing for a stacked Washington backcourt featuring Nate Robinson, but during his tenure in the D-League, he has proven that he’d be a good addition to a team looking for a solid third point guard. Although he isn’t a freakish athlete, Conroy’s numbers have been solid across the board. His defense and leadership skills are easily his best attributes, as well as his ability to make everyone around him better. Improved consistency on his perimeter shot would best help his chances at making it in the NBA.

Will Bynum, Roanoke Dazzle

Per game averages: 24.0 points, 6.7 assists, 6.24 turnovers, 51%FG, 38.5% 3 point

A great athlete, and an exciting player to watch, Bynum has performed at a fairly high level in the NBDL. He currently leads the league in scoring at 24ppg, and can score in a variety of ways. Though Bynum averages 6 assists per game, he also averages 6 turnovers per game, and needs the ball in his hands to do anything on the court. To best improve his NBA chances, Bynum needs to become a better decision maker.

Anthony Grundy, Roanoke Dazzle

Per game averages: 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 44.1%FG, 40.9% 3 point

As the second leading scorer in the D-League, Grundy has proven that he can put the ball in the hoop on anybody, whether he’s shooting from the outside or driving to the hoop. Despite this, Grundy is undersized for a shooting guard at 6-3, and will probably need to show better point guard skills to best improve his NBA chances. He’s currently averaging nearly as many turnovers as assists.

NBA Assigned players rankings

Along with the usual update on how the NBA players are currently performing in the D-League, we’ve ranked the players based on the potential they’ve been showing as evidenced by their performance in the NBDL so far.

1. Gerald Green, Boston Celtics/Fayetteville Patriots

Per game averages: 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists

Green was the first rookie out of high school sent to the D-League, and during his time spent in Roanoke, has shown promise as an NBA player. Though too skinny to play in the NBA right now, Green has been very unselfish, and concentrated on the smaller aspects of his game that need work. People know that Gerald can score, but he has worked on his defense, and improved his passing ability while not forcing anything on offense. To reach his all-star potential, Gerald Green will need to stay in the weight room, and continue to develop his understanding of the NBA game. All the tools are certainly there.

2. Martell Webster, Portland Trail Blazers/Fort Worth Flyers

Per game averages: 10.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, .6 assists

Webster has struggled early during his time in the D-League, and basically proved that his only value on the court at the moment as far as the NBA is concerned is his flawless shooting form. He still needs to work on getting shot off within the offense, improve his ball-handling skills and further tone his body so he can take contact at the hoop. Right now, Webster gets lost in rotations on defense, and frequently gets beat off the dribble. Though he won’t be contributing in the NBA this season, he has shown a good work ethic, and has a lot of room to improve. As the 6th pick in the draft, there is added pressure for Webster to perform at this lower level of play.

3. Sergei Monia, Portland Trail Blazers/Fort Worth Flyers

Per game averages: 9.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists

Monia has put on some weight since he first came over from Russia, and has both a nice shooting stroke and the ability to put the ball on the floor. Sergei has looked passive at times, but has played a big role for the Fort Worth Flyers, and was even the go-to guy in the fourth quarter of a recent close game, where he had two big threes, a layup, and a key block in a victory. Monia is a good shot blocker from the weak side but needs to move his feet better on defense and continue to put on weight. Right now Sergei is playing power forward for the Flyers, but his game most resembles that of a swingman.

4. Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks/Tulsa 66ers

Per game averages: 10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists

Ilyasova has improved at a good rate during his time in the NBDL, though he still needs some work before contributing in the NBA. He’s improved his help defense as well as his shooting percentages across the board, and he has been a very good rebounder throughout his tenure in the D-League. To continue his improvement, Ersan needs to work on his shot selection and start getting his shots within the flow of the offense. He has plenty of time to improve, as he is still very young.

5. CJ Miles, Utah Jazz/Albuquerque Thunderbirds

Per game averages: 12.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists

Calvin Miles is raw right now, but possesses good athleticism and a nice stroke from the three point line. To contribute in the NBA, CJ will need to develop everything in between. Right now, Miles plays with good effort on defense, but is much too skinny right now. He needs to add significant weight before he can contribute in the NBA. When he gets to the hoop, he doesn’t know how to pass and set up teammates, so he’ll either shoot a low percentage shot or turn the ball over if he doesn’t have an easy layup or dunk. His handle has improved from where it was at in high school, and for the Thunderbirds, Miles gets good experience playing during crunch time. If he can put some weight on his rail thin build and continue to improve his skills, Miles could be a nice player for the Jazz a few years down the road.

6. Rawle Marshall, Dallas Mavericks/Fort Worth Flyers

Per game averages: 17.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Rawle is very skinny, and it would best help him to put on some weight to avoid injury in the NBA. He has been very solid for the Fort Worth Flyers, however, and stands out on a D-League team stacked with good wing players. Marshall is a great athlete, and is very good at finishing around the hoop. His outside shot falls at a good rate too, and his man to man defense has progressed significantly over the past few weeks. Though he is already 23 and his ceiling isn’t as high as some of the other NBA assigned players, Rawle is probably the closest out of all of them to contributing significant minutes in the NBA right now.

7. Donta Smith, Atlanta Hawks/Arkansas Rimrockers

Per game averages: 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds 3.1 assists

Smith, sent down by an Atlanta team stacked with wing players, needs to improve his outside shot if he wants to contribute in the NBA. In the D-League, he has been inconsistent, looking great at times, and playing passively in others. He can get to the hoop with ease, and is usually very smart about setting up other players (3 assists per game), but on a team like Arkansas, one has to wonder why Smith doesn’t post better numbers. If he can be more aggressive and work on his shooting ability, Donta Smith could turn into a nice role player off the bench.

8. Martynas Andriuskevicius, Cleveland Cavaliers/Arkansas Rimrockers

Per game averages: 9.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, .7 assists

Martynas, a very skilled player, was sent down by the Cavs so he could adjust his game to the NBA, and most importantly, put some muscle on his weak frame. Martynas has excellent range on his shot, and has rebounded at a good rate during the time he has spent in the NBDL. He is only 19 years old, and if he bulks up considerably, Martynas Andriuskevicius could contribute in the NBA down the road.

9. Eddie Basden, Chicago Bulls/Tulsa 66ers

Per game averages: 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists

Basden is known as a physical defender, having some offensive abilities, though they are limited at this point. He can get to the hoop when he tries, and has good athleticism and strength to finish at the rim. Basden’s perimeter shot needs improvement if he wants to contribute good minutes to the Bulls, and his overall offensive game needs to become more consistent. His defense, as expected, has looked very good in the NBDL, and some consistency on offense could lead to a call back up to the Bulls for the 22 year old.

10. Dwayne Jones, Boston Celtics/Florida Flame

Per game averages: 9.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists

Jones is last in the rankings right now partially due to the fact that DraftExpress witnessed him play two of his worse games of the season. In these games, Jones was kept of the glass by the likes of Luke Schenscher and Nick Sheppard, and was scored upon consistently by both of these guys in the post. Despite this, Jones showed good shot blocking skills, and the ability to change shots around the basket. His positioning when battling in the post needs some work, and Jones doesn’t have the best hands either. Jones’ rebounding numbers in the NBDL are misleading, because with the European style goaltending rules (ball is active off the rim on the bounce), Jones scores a lot of put back dunks that would not be legal in the NBA. It’s hard to see Dwayne’s offensive game ever being a threat, but if he can improve it enough as to where he’s not a liability, Jones could be a solid shot blocking center off the bench.

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