James Southerland Signs with Pelicans: Call-Up Breakdown
James Southerland's first taste of the NBA lasted two minutes and 46 seconds.
That's how much court time the 23-year-old saw in his lone game with the Charlotte Bobcats after making their roster out of training camp as an undrafted free agent. He was released 12 days later, picked up by the NBA D-League's Los Angeles D-Fenders five days after that, and left to work his way back up.
But Southerland had shown over a standout senior year at Syracuse that he had an NBA small forward's game, and he knew his time would come. "It can be a long process, but you don't want to get too frustrated. You just play how you play and everything will turn out OK," he said in March.
Southerland was a key piece for the D-Fenders as they made a run to the No. 2 seed in the NBA D-League playoffs, mainly being used as a small-ball 4-man in L.A.'s D'Antoni-style scheme. Though he said he set out to prove he was more than just a spot-up shooter, he actually struggled to find his stroke from NBA three-point range while the rest of his game blossomed. Fifty-six percent of his field goals over his 42 games played came in the paint, where he shot 66%, and his 50.6% shooting from mid-range led the league (min. 80 attempts).
Southerland's contract with the Pelicans essentially amounts to a six-day tryout before the regular season ends. Even if he doesn't wind up sticking in New Orleans, there's a strong chance his NBA career will last much, much longer than two minutes, 46 seconds.
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