NBA D-League Call-Ups Making Big Impact at Next Level



We've officially entered GATORADE Call-Up season, with NBA teams eager to hand out 10-day contracts to the NBA D-League's most intriguing prospects. But even before the next wave of talent arrives, several former fixtures on our Prospect Watch board have made their mark at the next level. Here's a breakdown of what the new crop of alumni have brought to the big stage:

KENDALL MARSHALL, LAKERS

The darling of this season's brand-new NBA D-League Stats Hub, Marshall is proof of a crucial development: NBA D-League numbers can translate to the NBA. Of course that's not to say that Pierre Jackson would put up 30 every night if he was called up tomorrow, but it's becoming clearer and clearer that minor-league numbers can provide a very useful picture of a player's game.

Marshall joined the Delaware 87ers in early December with a reputation as a pure point guard who needed to improve his shot-making ability. Then, in seven games, he not only showed progress as a long-range shooter, but also as a finisher and a floor general. The trends have continued and in some cases even improved in L.A., as evidenced in his shooting percentage from three (46.3% with Sevens, 43.2% with Lakers) and the restricted area (58.3%, 65.2%), as well as his distribution numbers (43.2 vs. 42.6 AST%, 2.2 vs. 3.1 AST/TO).





JAMES JOHNSON, GRIZZLIES

Johnson arrived in Memphis from RGV as if shot out of cannon, playing the best basketball of his career as an igniter off the bench for 15 games thus far. He's basically bottled the Vipers' high-speed attack into one 23-minute-per-game package, and the seeds for his exhilarating return were planted in the NBA D-League. Just like with RGV, he's blocking shots and grabbing steals at career-best rates (2.3 steals, 4.1 blocks per 36 min. w/ RGV; 2.3, 2.7 w/ Memphis), showcasing his new-and-improved passing skills (5.8 assists/36 min. w/ RGV; 4.1 w/ Memphis) and honing in on at-rim and beyond-the-arc shots (85% of attempts w/ RGV; 89% w/ Memphis). And he's been a highlight waiting to happen:





CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS, BOBCATS

There's a theme among the three GATORADE Call-Ups who've made the most impact thus far: They all ended up in ideal situations -- Marshall in Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll-heavy system, Johnson with the defense-first Grizzlies, and CDR with the offensively challenged Bobcats. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford has carved out a 15-30-minute a night role for the 6-7 wing, and Douglas-Roberts and rewarded him with three games in double figures. His shot attempts are way down (3.5 in 20.1 minutes per game), but they're actually coming from even better spots on the floor than they came with the Texas Legends: Typically a behind-the-times mid-range specialist, CDR has thrived in the paint (15/19 FG) and extended his range to the three-point line (9 mid-range FGA, 21 3PFGA) thus far.





BEST OF THE REST

The day after he signed a 10-day contract, Dewayne Dedmon was thrown into the fire with the Sixers and came through with seven rebounds and two blocks in just 14 minutes, giving the Sixers exactly what they're looking for off the bench: glass cleaning, rim protection and nonstop activity. And another NBA D-League double-double machine saw his first real action in Jeremy Tyler, who hit 3/4 field goals for six points as the Knicks played out the final two minutes of a 10-point loss to the Bobcats. Both of the still-young bigs ranked in the top 10 in rebound percentage while with Santa Cruz and Erie, respectively.

Meanwhile, a week after performing in front of scouts in Reno, Nev., James Nunnally made his NBA debut with the Hawks in London on Thursday; former Bakersfield Jam point guard Diante Garrett -- who was called up even before the season started -- has solidified his role as the backup to Trey Burke in Utah, sporting a nice 1.97 AST/TO ratio; and Lorenzo Brown and Malcolm Thomas have been yo-yoed between the Sixers/Spurs and Sevens/Toros since their Call-Ups.