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2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game Preview

by Matthew Brennan, NBA

Twenty of the D-League's best players be in action this Saturday for the 2010 NBA D-League All-Star game. This year's edition the fourth in league history, is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET at Jam Session Center Court in at the Dallas Convention Center. The game will also air live on NBA TV. This All-Star Game is a bit different than the NBA version, because a good performance here can help a player's cause when it comes to getting that elusive GATORADE Call-Up. Here is a breakdown of the roster for each team. Since the NBA D-League is divided into two conferences this year, the rosters are set by geography rather than the random Red Team/Blue Team rosters that we have seen in the past.

East Conference

Iowa's Nick Nurse will coach a team for the second straight year after leading his squad to a win in the 2009 All-Star game. This time he coaches the East, whose roster features three of his Energy players. Last year's Nurse's starting center Courtney Sims earned Co-MVP honors in Phoenix before going on to earn the league's Most Valuable Player award.

Two Iowa players who should feature In the backcourt for the East in Curtis Stinson and Cartier Martin. Stinson, the heart and soul of Iowa's first-place attack, is leading the league in assists with 9.8 per game. Martin, already a recipient of a GATORADE Call-Up to Golden State this year, is a smooth wing who adds 14.4 points per game. On the perimeter the East will not be lacking for offense with two of the league's top scorers in the form of Springfield's Morris Almond and Sioux Falls' Reggie Williams. Almond, playing in his second All-Star Game, leads the league with 26.8 points. The former Utah Jazz first-round pick will be looking for a big game in Dallas as he seeks a return to an NBA roster. Almond is the first player to represent the Armor in the All-Star Game. Williams has been one of the steals of the 2010 NBA D-League Draft, averaging 26.0 points per game and emerging as a top NBA prospect. Dakota's Romel Beck, a late replacement player, is another scoring machine who adds even more firepower from the perimeter. The 6-8 Beck has been playing very well lately and brings a 19.7 ppg average to Dallas. Fort Wayne's Ron Howard can also play guard or small forward and gives the East another offensive threat. Howard recently returned from a hand injury and ranks among the league leaders with 22.0 points per game. The 6-5 forward has been a stalwart for the Mad Ants since they discovered him at their open tryout before the 2007-08 season.

In the frontcourt, the East will line up three players with NBA experience as well as another top young prospect. Iowa's Earl Barron (Heat), Fort Wayne's Rob Kurz (Warriors), and Maine's Trey Gilder (Grizzlies) have all played in the NBA and are having excellent campaigns in the NBA D-League. Barron, a likely starter at center, has started all 31 games for the Energy this season while posting 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds. Fort Wayne's Kurz is force in the paint who can also step out and hit the three. He is one of three players in the NBA D-League averaging a double-double in 2009-10, ranking 13th with 18.3 points and second with 10.7 rebounds per contest. The athletic Gilder, a 6-9 small forward, made the Memphis roster to begin the NBA season but has since landed in Maine. He averages 14.5 points and 5.7 boards and will be the first player to represent the Maine Red Claws in an All-Star game. Rounding out the roster is Alade Aminu, who will represent the Erie BayHawks. The 6-10 rookie averages 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds, and is one of the most promising young players in the league. Consistency can be an issue for Aminu, but he is capable of a huge game as seen by his 30-point, 23-rebound outing at the NBA D-League Showcase.

West Conference

Rio Grande Valley's Vipers head coach Chris Finch will lead the the West Conference team in Dallas. The West roster has undergone a big makeover, with four replacements named on Wednesday. Three players currently on NBA rosters (Houston's Joey Dorsey, Utah's Sundiata Gaines, and Golden State's Anthony Tolliver) as well Rio Grande Valley's Antonio Anderson (injury) will not take part in Saturday's game.

The West will be well-stocked at lead guard with Tulsa's Mustafa Shakur and replacement Curtis Jerrells both on the roster. Shakur, the former Arizona star, has been one of the league's top guards this season and averages 19.6 points and 6.8 assists per game. Jerrells, a rookie out of Baylor, is a high-scoring guard who posts 20.6 points and 5.4 assists per game. The shooting guard spot is also well stocked, and features two players with NBA experience. Reno's Desmon Farmer was named to the team on Wednesday, and gives the West one of the NBA D-League's all-time leading scorers as well as a prolific three-point shooter. He is currently leading the Bighorns with 24.9 points per game, highlighted by a 41-point game in January as well as a 36-point performance where he made eight three-pointers. The team also added D-Fenders guard Joe Crawford on Wednesday. The 6-5 Crawford is in his second season with Los Angeles and received a GATORADE Call-Up to the New York Knicks last season. After missing the early part of the season with an injury, Crawford has come back to average 18.9 points for Los Angeles this season.

Three of the league's best all-around players lead the forward group for the West All-Stars. Rio Grande Valley's Mike Harris is having an MVP-caliber season for the Vipers and already has gotten a GATORADE Call-Up from the Houston Rockets in late December. Harris, a 6-6 forward, is in the league leaders with both 26.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He is joined by second-time All-Star Carlos Powell, representing the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, and high flying Austin Toros rookie Alonzo Gee. Powell, the first overall pick in November's NBA D-League Draft, has earned two Performer of the Week honors this season while averaging 22.5 points. Gee has been one of the league's top rookies while posting 20.0 points and 6.9 rebounds. He can play both forward positions as well as shooting guard and is capable of a few highlight-reel plays in every game. Doing the dirty work in the paint will be D-Fenders forward Diamon Simpson. The 6-7 Simpson is one of the league's top rebounders with 9.6 boards per game, but can also contribute some offense if needed.

The center position will be manned by the big shoes of Austin Toros veteran Dwayne Jones. Jones is running away with the NBA D-League rebound title this season with 14.9 boards per contest. He also leads the league with 23 double-doubles. The former Boston Celtic and Cleveland Cavalier will be joined in the middle by Bakersfield's Brian Butch. A much different player on the offensive end than Jones, the 6-11 Butch is a sweet-shooting big man who can occasionally hit the three. He can also mix it up inside, ranking seventh in the league with 9.0 rebounds per game.

# - currently in the NBA, will not play
* - injured, will not play

Alexis Ajinca*# (Maine/Charlotte) C 7-0 220 5/6/88 France
Morris Almond (Springfield) F 6-5 210 2/2/85 Rice
Alade Aminu (Erie) F 6-10 235 9/14/87 Georgia Tech
Earl Barron (Iowa) C 6-11 230 8/14/81 Memphis
Romel Beck (replacement) (Dakota) F 6-8 195 5/29/82 UNLV
Trey Gilder (Maine) F 6-9 185 1/24/85 Northwestern State
Ron Howard (Fort Wayne) F 6-7 212 11/6/81 Valparaiso
Rob Kurz (Fort Wayne) F 6-9 230 3/5/85 Notre Dame
Cartier Martin (Iowa) G/F 6-7 220 11/20/84 Kansas State
Curtis Stinson (Iowa) G 6-3 215 2/15/83 Iowa State
Reggie Williams (Sioux Falls) F 6-6 210 10/21/83 Virginia Military
Head Coach: Nick Nurse (Iowa), Assistant: Nate Bjorkgren (Iowa)
Athletic Trainer: Tim Moran (Iowa)

Antonio Anderson* (Rio Grande Valley) G 6-6 215 6/5/85 Memphis
Brian Butch (replacement) (Bakersfield) C 6-11 240 12/22/84 Wisconsin
Joe Crawford (replacement) (Los Angeles) G 6-5 210 6/17/86 Kentucky
Joey Dorsey# (RGV/Houston) C 6-9 265 12/16/83 Memphis
Desmon Farmer (replacement) (Reno) G 6-5 210 10/7/81 USC
Sundiata Gaines# (Idaho/Utah) G 6-1 195 4/18/86 Georgia
Alonzo Gee (Austin) G 6-6 220 5/29/87 Alabama
Mike Harris (Rio Grande Valley) F 6-6 235 6/15/83 Rice
Dontell Jefferson* (Utah) G 6-5 190 12/15/83 Arkansas
Curtis Jerrells (replacement) (Austin) G 6-1 195 2/5/87 Baylor
Dwayne Jones (Austin) F 6-11 250 6/9/83 St. Joseph's
Carlos Powell (Albuquerque) F 6-7 225 8/29/83 South Carolina
Mustafa Shakur (Tulsa) G 6-3 190 8/18/84 Arizona
Diamon Simpson (replacement) (Los Angeles) F 6-17 230 9/8/87 St. Mary's (Ca.)
Anthony Tolliver# (Idaho/GSW) F 6-9 240 6/1/85 Creighton
Head Coach: Chris Finch (Rio Grande Valley), Assistant: Paul Mokeski (Rio Grande Valley)
Athletic Trainer:Joe Resendez