by Matthew Brennan, NBA D-League.com
October 28, 2010 - The 2010 NBA D-League Draft is just a few days away, so now is as good a time as ever to take a look back at who were the winners and losers in last year's draft. Listed below is an overview of each team in the order of their first-round selection. By reading, you can gauge that the amount of impact players selected is a good measure of a team's success in the ensuing regular season. Last year seven players chosen went on to become GATORADE Call-Ups (five first-round picks) and one was taken in the NBA Draft. Visit NBA D-League.com on Monday at 7 p.m. ET to watch these teams either try to repeat last year's draft success or bounce back from a poor 2009 draft crop.
New Mexico Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds snagged the first pick in the draft and went for the sure thing in NBA D-League All-Star Carlos Powell, who had just narrowly missed out on making the Suns' roster. Powell had another excellent season, making the All-Star team and placing the Thunderbirds in line for a playoff berth, but he elected to take an overseas offer in March and things went downhill after that. The T-Birds picked up a useful rotation player in the second round in local college star Chad Toppert, and also snagged former NBA first-rounder Yaroslav Korolev in the fourth round. Korolev had his moments for the Thunderbirds before being traded to Reno in January for Marcus Hubbard. None of the other five selections made much of an impact for the Thunderbirds.
Los Angeles D-Fenders
None of the D-Fenders' draft choices finished the season with the team, although third overall pick Deron Washington reached the Finals after being traded to Tulsa, and Jeremy Wise developed into a solid guard with Bakersfield after getting waived by Los Angeles in training camp. The D-Fenders also acquired second round pick Dar Tucker in a draft-day trade with the Idaho Stampede. Tucker averaged 11.6 points per game, but at the expense of the team losing Earl Barron, who was one of the league's top centers and a GATORADE Call-Up to the Knicks.
The BayHawks chose NBA veteran Donell Taylor with the second pick, and he was playing well for Erie before they traded him to Idaho for guard Mike Gansey. Heads might have turned after trading the second overall pick for a sixth-round choice, but Gansey turned into a very good pickup for the BayHawks. Erie also struck gold late in the second round with center John Bryant, who turned into one of the NBA D-League's top big men. After that it was rough sledding with nobody making much of an impact, although Rod Wilmont ended up playing in all 50 games for Fort Wayne after getting cut in training camp. The BayHawks also acquired first-round pick Alade Aminu in a post-draft trade with Fort Wayne. Aminu earned a spot on the NBA D-League All-Star team before he was traded to Bakersfield, where he earned a GATORADE Call-Up to the Heat.
The Jam went international with the fourth overall pick, choosing veteran French forward Amara Sy. Sy was effective in 16 games for the Jam, but bolted in January for an overseas offer after averaging 15.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest. Bakersfield tabbed an NBA veteran in the second round in Reece Gaines, who averaged in double-figures while playing in 47 games while fourth-round pick Jared Newson had his moments before being traded to Sioux Falls. Fifth-round pick Lance Hurdle also made some starts for the Jam before finishing the season as a member of the Idaho Stampede.
The Flash picked a current NBA roster player in center Garrett Siler with their first-round pick, but he never played a game for Utah after signing a deal in China during the preseason. Second-round pick Orien Greene, an NBA veteran, fell to the Flash and played a key role as the Flash reached the playoffs for the second straight season. He led the NBA D-League with 2.6 steals in 2009-10. After that nobody saw much time in Utah except for eighth-round pick Jordan Brady. A steal with only five picks left to go in the draft, Brady appeared in 45 games for the Flash and provided defense and rebounding off the bench.
The Toros made one of the shrewdest selections of the first round in future Rookie of the Year Alonzo Gee, who stormed through the league all season while earning call-ups to the Wizards and Spurs after going sixth overall. Gee was the highest-drafted player taken in the 2010 Draft to receive a GATORADE Call-Up last season. Sharpshooter Lewis Clinch was a solid pick in third round, while fifth round selection David McClure was one of the few fifth-round picks who stuck around for the entire NBA D-League season.
The Bighorns went for a proven veteran at seventh overall and took NBA D-League all-time scoring leader Desmon Farmer. Farmer ranked fourth in the league with 24.7 points per game and helped Reno reach the playoffs for the first time. Seventh-round pick Chris Davis was the only other draft pick who saw any time in Reno, playing limited minutes in 39 games at the guard spot.
Maine Red Claws
Eighth overall pick Paul Harris looked like an intriguing prospect after appearing in the preseason with the Utah Jazz, but he came into camp battling an injury and never played a game for Maine. Second-round pick Darnell Lazare and sixth-round choice Anthony Terrell both emerged as part of the rotation, while seventh-round choice Tony Bobbitt was dealt to Springfield for top scorer Morris Almond. Lazare went on to play in all 50 games for the Red Claws, averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Ninth choice Rashad Anderson was a disappointment as he failed to crack a loaded Iowa lineup. He averaged 9.3 points off the bench before getting waived when Othyus Jeffers returned to Iowa. Anderson finished the season in Fort Wayne. Second-rounder Pat Carroll was a solid pick and lived up to his billing as one of the league's most prolific three-point shooters, while third-rounder Sean Barnette played sparingly before ending up as a member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The remaining picks did not stick very long in Iowa, although Russell Hicks resurfaced in Lakers camp this year after getting waived by Iowa in early December.
Fort Wayne Mad Ants
The Mad Ants dealt their first-round choice, Alade Aminu, to Erie for NBA veteran Rob Kurz. Kurz lived up to expectations as one of the league's top forwards before earning a call-up to the Chicago Bulls. Second-round pick Frank Tolbert was waived in training camp, but returned to the team in January and played in 18 games. None of their remaining six selections made a sizable impact in 2009-10.
The Wizards used their first-round pick on forward Curtis Withers, who was serviceable front-court component for a team that reached the playoffs. Withers played in all 50 games and averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Wizards. Second-round pick Doug Thomas was waived early in the season but ended up appearing in 48 games for Reno, while sixth-rounder Darren Cooper was a reserve mainstay at the guard spot.
Rio Grande Valley Vipers
The Vipers picked a future call-up in Antonio Anderson, who developed as one of the league's top swingmen. Anderson earned a call-up to Oklahoma City, but returned to play a key role in the Vipers' championship run. Guard Jonathan Wallace went in the second round and also grew into a fixture in the Vipers' lineup. Wallace played in all 50 games, starting 28 before moving to an off-the-bench role when Will Conroy was acquired. Fourth-round pick Mickell Gladness was the only other draft pick who stuck around for the entire season. The 6-11 center saw reserve minutes in 41 games for the Vipers.
Sioux Falls Skyforce
The Skyforce picked an active big man in the first round in Raymond Sykes, but the real value pick came in the third round with the selection of Reggie Williams. Williams posted 26.4 points in 31 games before heading to the NBA with Golden State. Sykes averaged 10.5 points in 40 games after going 13th overall, while fourth-round choice Leemire Goldwire emerged as one of the NBA D-League's top reserve guards. Goldwire scored 12.9 points off the bench in 48 games.
The Armor used their first draft choice in team history on a player with both NBA and NBA D-League experience in JamesOn Curry. Curry averaged 16.1 points and earned a brief call-up to the Clippers before an injury ended his season early. The team only got 18 games out of second-round pick Major Wingate and none of the players taken in the ensuing rounds were able to make an impact for the Armor.
The Stampede made one of the best picks of the draft at 15th overall, tabbing future Utah Jazz call-up Sundiata Gaines. Gaines averaged 23.9 points and 6.9 assists before the NBA came calling at Showcase in January. The Stampede also picked up a future call-up with their second pick, acquiring Anthony Tolliver from Iowa in a three-team trade that sent their choice, Dar Tucker, to Los Angeles. The Stampede also parlayed their sixth-round pick, Mike Gansey, into NBA veteran Donell Taylor during a trade on New Year's Eve. Taylor averaged 21.9 points in 31 games in an Idaho uniform.
The 66ers used the final pick of the first round and first pick of the second round on two players that played a big role in their march to the playoffs. High school star Latavious Williams went 16th overall and started slow, but came on towards the end of the season on his way to becoming an NBA draft pick. Mustafa Shakur was one of the league's best guards and earned a call-up to the Oklahoma City Thunder after averaging 19.2 points and 6.9 assists. Third-round pick Cecil Brown was the only other draft choice to play much of a role with Tulsa in 2009-10. Brown averaged 14.0 points before his regular season was cut short by injury, but he returned for Tulsa's run to the NBA D-League Finals.