AP Hoops: Of Top Performers and Key Performance Indicators (ie - Good Start, Now Here's What You Gotta do Better)

The first weekend of NBA D-League action saw a slew of Top Prospects vault up the charts. What do they need to go to go higher?

Opening Weekend is in the books. And over those first nine games, we got to witness our first batch of stand-out performers take one step closer to their NBA dreams. While it is a bit early to make profound determinations based on a small sample size of statistics (say that 10 times fast), we can identify at least one key stat that'll serve as a barometer for our Top Performers. The more they can improve this one metric, the closer they'll get to making the leap to the next level. Thus, the following is a list of some of the Top Performers from Opening Weekend and the best statistic to watch to track their development.

James Mays
Turnover Ratio (TORatio)
Mays has had some success in the past as a scorer and rebounder, but needS to be better at holding onto the basketball. In his first NBA D-League stint in 2008-09, he averaged 3.58 TO per game and turned it over 6 times in his first game this season.
Top Prospect Ranking: On The Cusp
Jarvis Varnado
Rebounding Percentage (REB%)
Although Varnado needs work on his mid-range game, his true potential as an NBA player comes as a rebounder and shot-blocker (he had six swats in his debut). While he has demonstrated his shot blocking prowess already, some scouts worry that he is not quite big enough to get proper positioning in the post or box out large opponents. Once he learns the art of body positioning, his REB% is sure to increase.
Top Prospect Ranking: # 8
Jeff Adrien
Defensive Rating (DefRtg)
In 2011, Jeff Adrien was by far the most efficient NBA D-League player according to PER and also boasted the best REB%. Although he stands 6-foot-7, his 7-foot-2 wingspan and good bulk make him a formidable presence on the glass. However, Adrien needs to continue to work on his lateral quickness and defensive abilities in order to truly turn himself into an NBA player.
Top Prospect Ranking: # 23
Chris Wright
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Chris Wright is a tremendous athlete, which manifests itself in his great shot-blocking, rebounding and dunking ability. However, since he is only 6-foot-8, he needs to focus on improving his scoring efficiency from mid-range and outside to expand his game.
Top Prospect Ranking: # 2
Ben Uzoh
Assist Ratio (ASTRatio)
Ben Uzoh is athletic and has a 69 wingspan even though he is only 62. He has proven his ability to be a solid scorer and an above-average rebounder from the guard position. However, if he wants to find his niche as a backup PG at the NBA level, he needs to work on his passing and offensive facilitation.
Top Prospect Ranking: # 13
D.J. Kennedy
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Kennedy is a capable scorer and rebounder from the SF position. He also has quick hands as a defender generally athletic. However, he does has a tendency to force shots occasionally and needs to increase his shooting efficiency to take the next step in his game.
Top Prospect Ranking: # 18
Kevin Jones
Defensive Rating (DefRtg)
Kevin Jones worked throughout his college career at WVU to improve his offensive game and was successful in becoming a more much efficient player. He is a very solid rebounder and is tenacious on the glass. The biggest area for improvement is his defense, in which he is a bit undersized for a forward and lacks the explosiveness necessary to block shots.
Top Prospect Ranking: # 5