Musselman, D-Fenders Focus on Top Pick

Last week, D-Fenders head coach Eric Musselman and his staff were pleased to learn that they were awarded the No. 1 pick in the Nov. 3rd D-League Draft.

It’s the second straight year in which Musselman will have the top selection, as his Reno Bighorns won the draft lottery into the 2010-11 campaign. Flanked by general manager Glenn Carraro and newly hired assistant coach Clay Moser, Musselman has been busy trying to determine whose name will be called first.

“We’ve been meeting daily to try and come up with a draft order, and right now the main focus has been on the No. 1 pick,” said Musselman. “A lot of film work is involved, a lot of phone calls, and we’re trying to figure out which guy fits what we’re trying to accomplish.”

As Musselman went on to explain, there are no Shaquille O’Neals, Patrick Ewings or Hakeem Olajuwons in this draft. No automatic selection for the top slot.

“You’re really talking about probably three or four guys that we see for that one spot,” Musselman revealed. “But as the week progresses, we’re learn more and more.”

It won’t be easy, as Musselman explained that there is little harder than drafting in minor league sports.

“There is so much that is unknown," he said. "Most of the D-League coaches have not seen these guys play live, which never happens in the NBA.”

Some players played at very small colleges and were rarely seen. Others spent time playing abroad, where little game tape exists.

Nonetheless, once players are identified, they need to sign their rights over to the D-League’s master roster of available prospects, which is distributed weekly to each team. Teams can recommend players to be signed, as can player agents, before the D-League decides who is officially signed and made available in the draft pool.

With each of the organization’s eight picks, Musselman and Co. will be looking for players that have an “identifiable skill.” He’s looking for a great rebounder, a great ball distributor, a great shooter, who can not only help his team win, but perhaps make a jump to the NBA level one day.

After their No. 1 pick, the D-Fenders won’t pick until No. 32 overall, as 16 teams go through the “serpentine” format (known as “snake” in fantasy drafts), meaning the team picking last in Round 1 will select first in Round 2 (picks 16 and 17). L.A.’s complete list of picks is as follows: 1, 32, 33, 64, 65, 96, 97 and 128.

The rest of the team will be composed of holdovers from the Utah Flash (sitting out the season) and three to five players from the D-Fenders’ tryout on Oct. 10. L.A. opens its season with back-to-back road contests at Dakota before their home opener on Nov. 28 vs. Reno at the Toyota Sports Center.

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