Mikki Moore: D-League Success Stories

By Matthew Brennan, D-League.com

December 20, 2007: Sacramento Kings center Mikki Moore is a great example of a former D-League player who has made it big in the NBA, but he is not alone. There are currently 52 former D-League players on NBA rosters, ranging from veterans like Moore to a rookie such as the Suns' Alando Tucker who was recalled from the D-League only a few weeks ago.

This offseason was a banner one for D-League alumni, as players such as Moore, Matt Carroll, Ime Udoka, and Amir Johnson were in demand by NBA teams as free agents. Moore signed a lucrative free-agent deal with the Sacramento Kings after a successful 2006-07 season with the New Jersey Nets where he led the NBA in field-goal percentage.

"It is very motivating, and it is very fulfilling to see other people from the D-League contribute in the NBA and show the younger guys that it is possible," said Moore while he was in the NBA TV studios for a live appearance.

Mikki Moore posts up Ime Udoka during their D-League days.
Barty Young/Getty Images/NBAE
Moore is entrenched as a starter for the Kings this season, averaging 7.6 points, 5.6 rebounds while .536 for the field in 22 games for Sacramento. A few days after he tied his career-high with 24 points on December 14 against Philadelphia, he took some time out to share his thoughts on some of the other former D-League players who have established themselves in the NBA.

Kelenna Azubuike, Golden State

Azubuike is averaging 12.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in 25 games for the Golden State Warriors, making 13 starts. He received a GATORADE Call-Up to the Warriors in late December 2006 after leading the D-League in scoring through the first two months of the 2006-07 season. A 6-5 guard-forward, Azubuike has compiled a career average of 9.2 points in 66 NBA games.

Mikki Moore on Kelenna Azubuike: "He is very talented. He has some rough edges to his game, but the thing is that his work ethic is there. He seems like he is going to work very hard and always give a full effort. He has talent, he is very athletic, he knows the game and he is learning his team. He is fitting in very well with Golden State."

Matt Barnes, Golden State Warriors

Matt Barnes is in his second season with the Golden State Warriors and his fifth NBA season overall. Barnes, a 6-7 forward, played the entire 2002-03 D-League season with the Fayetteville Patriots where he averaged 9.7 points. This season he is averaging 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games for Golden State. Barnes played a key role last season in the Warriors' run to the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Mikki Moore on Matt Barnes: "Matt Barnes, that's my boy right there. I prayed for him, I heard about his mother passing. Matt has made the most out of all of the opportunities that have come his way. He is just like me, he is a grinder, and he has shown everybody that he belongs in the league."

Ime Udoka, San Antonio Spurs

A true inspiration to basketball journeymen everywhere, Ime Udoka spent three full seasons in the D-League between 2002 and 2006, playing a total of 136 games for Charleston and Fort Worth. The winner of the 2005-06 Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award, Udoka made the Portland Trail Blazers coming out of training camp last season and joined the San Antonio Spurs heading into this year. Udoka has played in 17 games for the Spurs this season and now has a career average of 6.8 points in 104 total NBA games.

Mikki Moore on Ime Udoka - "I've bumped into him a lot in the D-League and now in the NBA. Ime is hard-nosed, he is going to go out there and play hardcore defense. That is one thing that is going to get you into the NBA coming out of the D-League. Showing that you are going to come in and contribute as a defensive player, because they already have guys that are going to score, so you have to show to an NBA team that you have something that they need that they don't have right now."

Matt Carroll, Charlotte Bobcats

Carroll elected to return to Charlotte as free-agent before this season, and the former Notre Dame star is averaging 9.2 points in 22 games, all off the bench. He and Moore were teamates on the D-League's Roanoke Dazzle for a short time during the 03-04 season. Carroll went on to win the D-League MVP award in 2004-05 with Roanoke, averaging 20.1 points in 24 games before joining the Bobcats.

Mikki Moore on Matt Carroll - "It's great to see Matt get a big contract in the NBA. We were teammates together in the D-League for a short time in Roanoke, and he has worked very hard to get to where he is today with the Bobcats."