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Eastern Conference Preview, Part I

The first installment of a four-part preview series looks at four teams from the East, including a brand-new team in Canton
Eastern Conference, Part 1(CTN, DAK, ERI, FWN)
Western Conference, Part 1(AUS, BAK, IDA, LAD)
Eastern Conference, Part 2(IWA, MNE, SXF, SPG)
Western Conference, Part 2(RNO, RGV, TEX, TUL)

From now until the start of the 2011-12 NBA Development League regular season on Friday -- including a live broadcast on NBA TV (7:30 p.m. ET) of the Canton Charge's first-ever game, when the newcomers take on defending champ Iowa -- we'll look at the teams, players and storylines you should know as the NBA D-League preps for its most competitive season yet.

A breakdown of four teams from the Eastern Conference is up first, with the second half to follow on Wednesday. The first half of the Western Conference preview will be unveiled Tuesday.

Keith McLeod brings his veteran leadership and scoring touch to the Cavs' new NBADL affiliate's inaugural season.
NBAE via Getty Images

Canton Charge
NBA Affiliate: Cleveland Cavaliers
Coach: Alex Jensen
Key Players: Keith McLeod, Jamine Peterson
Key Draft Pick: Tyrell Biggs (Rd. 1, 15th overall)
Last Year: Inaugural Season
City Fun Fact:
Canton is the home of the NFL Hall of Fame and is the hometown of a multitude of professional athletes from Yankees legend Thurmon Munson to NFL linebacker great Chris Spielman. Also, Boz Scaggs.
Outlook: Formerly the New Mexico Thunderbirds until last offseason, the Canton Charge look to reinvent their franchise under the ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers. This season they have the unique privilege of Keith McLeod’s veteran leadership, as the 32-year-old will be the centerpiece of the Canton offense after scoring nearly 22 points per game two seasons ago in the NBA D-League.

Size is going to be a factor in the Charge’s frontcourt and they will invariably depend on their first round selection, Pitt product Tyrell Biggs, to play a significant role in the interior.

Anthony Goods, the one-time Stanford standout, scored 18.2 points per game for the Wizards last year.
NBAE via Getty Images

Dakota Wizards
NBA Affiliate: Golden State Warriors
Coach: Nate Bjorkgren
Key Players: Edwin Ubiles, Anthony Goods
Key Draft Pick: Edwin Ubiles (Rd. 1, 6th overall, traded from Bakersfield)
Last Year: 19-31
City Fun Fact:
Despite the prevalence of the word 'ludefisk,' North Dakota declared English to be the official state language in 1987.
Outlook: The Dakota Wizards will face challenges aplenty this season … not the least of which is spelling and/or pronouncing the name of their rookie head coach (don’t stress: it’s ‘Byork-gren’). The other challenge will be replacing the contribution of Renaldo Major, whom the Wizards shipped to Bakersfield for Edwin Ubiles on Draft Night. Have no fear, however, Dakota fans: Ubiles should be a strong acquisition, as he possesses a long frame, multi-position talent, athleticism and defensive ability.

While former Stanford star Anthony Goods will round out a strong backcourt, the Wizards will be in need of strong frontcourt play – especially from Curtis Withers – if they want to contend this season.

Donald Sloan shone in the playoffs in 2011, scoring 17.0 ppg for Reno in five postseason games.
NBAE via Getty Images

Erie BayHawks
NBA Affiliate: New York Knicks
Coach: Jay Larranaga
Key Players: Donald Sloan
Key Draft Pick: Chris Daniels (Rd. 1, 9th overall)
Last Year: 32-18
City Fun Fact:
The ‘Oneders,’ the fictional (and terrific) band from the equally terrific movie, That Thing You Do, hailed from Erie.
Outlook: The BayHawks recently entered a single-affiliation with the New York Knicks and will be managed by former NBA All-Star Allan Houston, who should provide a strong front office presence for them. Their biggest challenge this season will be dealing with the departures of Blake Ahearn and Ivan Johnson.

New acquisition Donald Sloan (from a trade with Reno) should be able to pick up some of the slack as a talented scorer who has shown an ability to both drive and make shots. A potential x-factor for them will be PF/C Chris Daniels whose 7-foot frame is complemented by a strong outside shot.

In Marvin Phillips, the Mad Ants have one of the most athletic -- and most tenacious -- players in the entire NBADL.
NBAE via Getty Images

Fort Wayne Mad Ants
NBA Affiliates: Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks
Coach: Joey Meyer
Key Players: Walker Russell Jr., Marvin Phillips
Key Draft Pick: Cameron Jones (Rd. 1, 10th overall)
Last Year: 24-26
City Fun Fact:
"The Summit City" is the official nickname for Fort Wayne, the site of .
Outlook: The Mad Ants are truly fortunate to have Marvin Phillips, who is one of the most exciting players in the entire NBA D-League. His nearly unmatched ability to elevate allows him to abuse the rim with an array of acrobatic dunks, as well as rebound extremely (9.3 rpg last season).

Walker Russell, Jr. is coming off an impressive All-Star season in 2010-11, in which he averaged 17.7 pts and 7.9 assists per game, and could continue to drive the offense at a high level this season.