D-League Showcase: Familiar Names Impressing
The D-league offers so many unique opportunities for players in different stage of their careers. Over the past four days these differences were on full display. Here is a quick list of familiar names who have had stints or careers in the NBA or were recently assigned to get the all important playing experience.
Rocky IX: Guys who played multiple years in the NBA mixing it up with the young guys.
Greg Ostertag, Texas Legends
The half-man,half-mountain did what he said he was going to do. Against the Sioux Fall Skyforce Ostertag broke the game open by making pogo stick Charles Garcia nearly lose his mind. His activity and on court communication were only topped by his multiple trips to the floor in efforts to help his team. Teams looking to counter attack the Dwight Howards and Andrew Bynums of the world will be watching his next month closely.
Bobby Simmons, Reno Bighorns
Simmons competed and was very serious throughout the week. He moved the ball and defended while keeping his Reno Bighorns focused. If he can show teams he is willing to be a practice player and be in a smaller role than previous years, his time in Reno will be short.
Antoine Walker/Mikki Moore, Idaho Stampede
This was worth the flight and hotel for multiple reasons. Conditioning is still an issue for both players, but these guys showed two things the stat sheet doesn’t reveal. Not only were they constantly communicating with younger, less experienced teammates, but both players went way out of their way to spend time with the crowd and fans throughout the week. On the court both made multiple veteran plays and worked the refs renlentlessly. Moore eventually was given a technical from the bench and removed much to the crowd’s dismay.
The Assignments: Players sent to the D-League for extra game experience.
Marcus Morris, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets)
The good was a 32-point outburst on Monday on his very well-coached Rio Grande Valley Vipers, but the bad was 1:32 into his second game he suffered and injury to his ankle. Clearly his offense skill set and body control are mature beyond his years.
Julyan Stone, Idaho Stampede (Denver Nuggets)
The undrafted rookie lasted only one game before being called back up to Denver, but Stone had a tremendous fantasy line in his lone game in Reno. His eight points, eight rebounds, two steals, and six assists had NBA personnel envying Denver’s once questioned acquisition.
Sadly the rest of the assigned players looked lost and selfish. The assignments are for development both on court and off court and clearly there are players who need to understand better how hard you have to play at all times. Once this lesson is achieved they can begin to learn the nuances such as ball movement, limiting dribbles, not talking to the refs, bench energy, coachability and playing through adversity.
Lockout Capitalists: Players who have grown since last being on an NBA roster.
Gerald Green, Los Angeles D-Fenders
His breakout game on Wednesday had the gym buzzing. The much maligned basketball IQ questions looked to be in check and he went into a zone in the game Kobe and D-Wade would have been proud of. If Green can continue to lock in on the defensive end there is no doubt he can be in someone’s eight-man rotation by the end of the year.
Manny Harris, Canton Charge
His rhythm scoring was on full display in both his games for the Charge. If the ice burn injury had not occurred he would be advancing his career north in Cleveland, but Manny’s next team will be very happy with the offensive spark he can provide. Teams may allow him to get 6-10 more games under his belt, but his call up is imminent.
Lance Thomas, Austin Toros
The Hornets thought he was not ready, but as other teams look to add energy and a winning mentality Thomas will be at the front of the line. His athleticism and positive presence on the court overshadows his lack of a true mid-range game. He will not only be able to work on this in the coming weeks but he will be doing it for the league powerhouse Toros, who tend to bring the best out of all their serious prospects.
The NBDL showcase is a destination that should not be missed in the future for true basketball fanatics. The venue not only helped build players brand both for futures in the NBA but also provided an intimate setting for numerous overseas teams to get an up close look at who they will invest in. The positive energy of the staff and highly competitive games will have me following closely in the coming weeks.
Dan Barto is the Director of NBA/College Skill Training at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida.