Prospect Watch 2012-13: Showcase Awaits

With 10 GATORADE Call-Ups already -- and, more importantly, 10-day contracts starting on Jan. 7 -- these are the guys at the gates.

The league's premier event is set to tip-off on Monday in Reno, Nev., with every one of the NBA D-League's 16 teams set to play two games over a four-day period. No other event on earth brings so many NBA Prospects to one location, and no other event on the NBA D-League calendar offers Prospects the chance to show off in front of talent personnel -- from NBA GM's to scouts -- as much as Showcase does.

And this year, 10-day contracts begin the same day that Showcase does, which means a whole lot of players are about to make a leap. These are the guys at the front of the pack.

Related: 2013 Showcase Schedule | Top 25 PER | Last Week: Top Skills in NBA D-League | New Faces in Time for Showcase
Center | 6-9, 275 | Drafted
At this moment, the only thing worth arguing about for Onuaku is how he's not playing more minutes. He's got the No. 1 PER in the league, the No. 1 rebounding percentage and the No. 1 offensive rebounding percentage. Ball goes up. Ball comes down. Ball ends up in Arinze Onuaku's hands. Aaaaaand then the hoop. He has a higher PER (27.79) than Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jarvis Varnado, who, you'll remember, ransacked the league on the way to the NBA. For a short refresher on PER -- and its ability to predict Call-Ups -- check out our AP Hoops piece here. For the original explanation, consult John Hollinger's manifesto.

And while you're doing it, note that Onuaku's PER of 27.79 is 28 percent higher than any other Prospect with more than 300 minutes in the NBA D-League this year.
Last Week: No. 7
Forward | 6-8, 225 | Returning
Wright hasn't played since Dec. 22 because of a concussion, but he did enough in his first 11 games to call Fives on his spots in the top 3. The league's seventh most-efficient player, by PER, Wright makes the scorebook look like the latter stages of a game of Monopoly.
Last Week: No. 1
Guard | 6-1, 205 | Affiliate Player
The other Chris Wright started the year off the Prospect Board because of injury concerns. He'll most likely end the year in the same place, after an NBA team plucks him away. Able to create his own shot but even better at doing the same for his teammates -- his assist percentage ranks behind only Kendall Marshall's -- there's not a more pure point in the league right now.
Last Week: No. 12
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
Leslie's played a number of roles in Santa Cruz this year, from defensive stopper to shot-taker (and, with his field goal percentage of .563 putting him first among guard Prospects, shot-maker) to one-man electrical pulse. Relying as much on legwork as leaping ability, the former Clipper has used the league to give his game some much-needed depth.
Last Week: No. 3
Guard | 6-3, 200 | Drafted
Goudelock has had his own case of iron overdose this year. The guy who once led the nation in scoring at the College of Charleston has hit only 43.8 percent of his shots -- 27.8 percent from 3, after averaging better than 40 percent at school -- for the Skyforce this year. With Goudelock, though, he's never a game away from breaking out for a performance like the 24-point, 8-rebound, 4-assist, 4-steal (and one turnover) one he had against Maine on Dec. 29, while shooting 10-for-14 from the field. Showing himself as more than just a scorer, he's among the league's top-25 in overall efficiency.
Last Week: No. 4
Guard | 6-3, 205 | Returning Player
Uzoh's defense and distribution remain intact, but an early-season shooting slump is starting to shed the 'early-season' part. The lifetime .464 shooter (a number that went to .478 last year) has thudded his way to a .410 mark this year, including .267 from 3-point range.
Last Week: No. 2
Guard | 5-11, 185 | Returning
The D-Fenders point guard's shooting just 40.2 percent from the field this year (though he has hit more than 43 percent from distance), but Fortson's contributions have come from everywhere. His 6.2 assists a night rank him fourth among Prospects, while his 2.19 assist-to-turnover ratio puts him in the top 5 among Prospects who've played more than 20 minutes a night. Oh yeah. The 5-foot-11 Fortson's also grabbing 5.5 rebounds, picking up 1.6 assists and playing the role of floor general every night.
Last Week: No. 21
Guard | 6-6, 215 | Returning Player
Kennedy, as much as anyone in the league, looks like he's primed for a test drive when 10-day contracts open up on Jan. 7. His size makes him a bit of a concern -- at 6-foot-6, he doesn't have the size to compete on the inside, nor does he have the outside game of a guard (though, at 31.8 percent from 3, he's not a liability) -- but Kennedy's a crafty scorer who craves contact, in addition to an elite rebounder for his position. .
Last Week: No. 9
Forward | 6-9, 253 | Affiliate Player
The former NBA forward still looks like one. Just, well, not himself. Having shed more than 20 pounds in the offseason, the veteran of 138 games in The Show has played with energy and efficiency all year, pulling down 8.1 boards, shooting 51.8 percent from the field and racking up the league's eighth-best PER in 2012. Jackson rarely approaches the spectacular, but when it comes to Call-Ups, he brings two key traits: he fills up his minutes and, just as importantly, he has been there before.
Last Week: No. 14
Center | 7-0, 253 | Waiver Claim
Jordan won't be here long. A 7-footer with 25 games of experience with the Knicks last year, Jordan has done pretty much whatever he wants through four NBA D-League games so far -- save, maybe, playing a little more. He's pulling down 9.3 boards in 29.3 minutes, along with three blocked shots and very nearly more free throws than field goal attempts, having attempted 20 and 24, respectively.
Last Week: Signed on Dec. 18
Center | 7-0, 240 | Affiliate Player
It's been as tough to move Sims out of the No. 11 spot as it's been to move him out of the key. His rebounding numbers still fall below what one would expect from a 6-foot-10 guy with the reach of a weather satellite, but he makes for a tough night on the defensive end (1.3 blocks a night) and makes his shots (49.4 percent from the floor, and a 74-percent mark from the line that means you can't just hack him). Point guards and raw size tend to slide to the front of the Call-Up line, and Sims brings a lot from the second bucket..
Last Week: No. 11
Guard | 6-3, 205 | Waiver Claim
Sloan started the 2011-12 season in the NBA D-League and then hopped, team-to-team, around the NBA over the past 12 months. A recipient of three NBA Call-Ups last year and a nod to join the Cleveland Cavaliers after winning a tight battle for the final point guard spot in training camp this fall, Sloan's another player just looking for an opportunity -- but a point guard far from just another player.
Last Week: Signed on Jan. 3
Center/Forward | 6-11, 255 | Drafted
Well. This is unexpected. Ohlbrecht joined the NBA D-League this year after taking a bigger bruising in the German media than he ever took in a lane, as the former heir apparent to Dirk made a play for the NBA. Turns out 'soft' got lost in translation. Ohlbrecht's thrown his body around inside, picking up 6.3 boards and 1.4 swats in just 26 minutes a night, while shooting 60.2 percent from the field. Only two players have a higher PER rating than he's put up this year -- and if all that's not enough, he's employed by an organization that's got a thing for grooming bigs in the minors.
Last Week: No. 23
Forward | 6-8, 240 | Waiver Claim
Harangody's in a weird spot. He bludgeoned the opposition when he was at Notre Dame and has done pretty much the same thing in the NBA D-League -- including a 20.5-point, 15.5-board average in his first two games since joining the league this year. But through 70 NBA games, he's struggled to keep pace with faster, stronger and taller opponents. Both of those averages could shoot upwards, but until Harangody develops a trusty outside game, it's tough to see where he fits in a more mobile NBA. He's off to a good start, though, after hitting four of his first five treys.
Last Week: Signed on Dec. 28 (Traded same day)
Forward | 6-8, 214 | Returning
Flowers has lit up the league this year. He has hit 52.4 percent of his shots, grabbed 7.2 boards, blocked 2.6 shots, dished out 2.2 assists and turned the ball over just 2.2 times in 36 minutes. He's got a gulf to cross at 6-foot-8, but with a 44-percent mark from behind the arc, he looks like he can do it by air.
Last Week: No. 20
Forward | 6-8, 240 | Affiliate Player
Out of context, Wilkerson and Flowers could rank a little higher than Darnell Jackson on the list. But NBA teams have shown a propensity for calling up players with NBA experience first, so Austin's hot-shooting, big-boarding and military-efficient big man has to settle for only jumping seven spots this week. Although Wilkerson's coming off his coldest week of the year, shooting just 37 percent from the field and grabbing 7.67 rebounds a night in three games, he still boasts a field goal percentage of .503 and 9.1 rebounds in 28 minutes a contest. Toss in 1.7 blocks and you've got yourself a textbook 10-day.
Last Week: No. 19
Forward | 6-10, 220 | Drafted
Johnson hasn't played a game since getting traded from Fort Wayne to Canton on Dec. 28, but, after what he managed in his last appearance, that's not the worst thing. In 43 minutes against Springfield on Dec. 22, Johnson grabbed 14 boards, blocked three shots and picked up three steals. He did shoot just 5-for-17 from the field, but his accuracy had improved in the three games prior, with JJ going 19-for-31
Last Week: No. 9
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Drafted
Eyenga's rebounding numbers have slipped of late -- and so, with six turnovers in his last two games, has the ball -- but the man can jump, defend and block shots (2.5 a game) as well as any guard in the league. He's also shooting 47.6 percent from the field, including 52 percent over his last six.
Last Week: No. 12
Forward | 6-8, 200 | Affiliate
Downs is all limbs and grit. He has the finesse of a truck commercial, and he's shooting just 40.7 percent from the field this year, but Maine's forward out of Gonzaga brings a whole lot of activity to each game on both ends of the floor. He's putting up 7.4 boards and 2.4 steals this year, including a seven-steal night against Springfield on Dec. 31.
Last Week: No. 10
Guard | 6-0, 185 | Returning
Foul shots. Out of everything Justin Dentmon's done in the NBA D-League -- a title and MVP trophy in 2011-12, a lifetime scoring average above 20 points per game -- the thing that might get Dentmon into the NBA could be his ability to get to the line. He's shooting a career-worst 41.2-percent from the field this year, but he's buoyed his scoring average -- and, for that matter, his PER, where he ranks 15th among Prospects -- by carving and colliding his way to the stripe. He'll need to do the same against bigger defenders in teh NBA. Rebounding at a career-best clip (5.0 rpg) and dishing out four assists a night doesn't hurt, either, but, judging by Dentmon's history, he's bound to break out soon.
Last Week: No. 13
Guard | 6-11, 210| Waiver Claim
Santa Cruz's reserve big man likely won't stay in that role for long. The 2010-11 NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year has rung up a 64.4-percent clip from the field, along with two blocks in 23 minutes a night.
Last Week: Unranked (Signed Dec. 12)
Forward | 6-8, 200 | Affiliate
Just like that, Summers has four straight double-doubles. As Fab Melo and Chris Wright sit out with concussions, Summers has taken on much of the offensive burden, with the veteran of 81 NBA games going for 22 points (on 17 shots) and 11.75 boards over his last four. He doesn't create his shot a whole lot -- nearly 70 percent of his buckets come after assists -- but he can stretch the floor: over those last four games, he's gone 56.5 percent on 23 shots from 3-point range.
Last Week: Unran ked
Forward | 6-9, 230 | Affiliate
Blame JaJuan Johnson. Mays' run of double-doubles ended at three games on Dec. 22, when Johnson took all his boards and kept the league's leading rebounder (among Prospects with five or more games) to just eight. But Mays did go 8-for-15 from the floor while matched up against one of the league's top defenders, showing that his offensive game is more than just ill-fated mid-range jumpers. To Mays' credit, he can elevate to finish near the hoop, and 34.5 percent of his boards come on the offensive end.
Last Week: No. 15
Guard | 6-4, 230 | Affiliate Player
Not even CDR put up these kinds of numbers. Over his last five games, the former Syracuse swingman has put up 24 points, 12.6 boards and two steals a night. He's shooting 52.6 percent in nine games and he blocked four shots in a game against Texas. On Christmas, he went for 34 points, 11 boards and five steals against Sioux Falls. But the lede's buried here: Harris remains somewhere between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-5, which might keep him somewhere between NBA D-League dominance and an NBA roster spot. But it'll be hard not to give him a look if he keeps this up.
Last Week: No. 27
Forward | 6-7, 225 | Affiliate Player
A few weeks ago, coach Will Voigt talked about how James just needed some time to adjust to the NBA D-League. That day might be here. Against Rio Grande Valley on Dec. 30, the former Net went for 27 points on just 17 shots (he went 11-for-13 from the line) with 11 boards, three blocks, two steals and two dimes.
Last Week: No. 21
Guard | 6-10, 227 | Waiver Claim
Macklin, the former Piston, soaked up a lot of extra playing time on Dec. 30, putting up 24 points, 14 boards and two blocks in 33 minutes -- the first time he's played more than 20 in his four games since joining the Vipers this year. As long as he's on the floor, expect the numbers to follow and the stock to rise.
Last Week: No. 18
Guard | 6-2, 175 | Waiver Claim
Quinn's appeared in 234 NBA games, including 26 starts -- 25 of them for the Miami Heat in 2007-08, when he averaged 7.8 points and three assists a game. His shooting abandoned him over his final three NBA seasons, but he's set a nice pace for himself so far, going for 18 points (46.9 percent overall and 57.1-percent from distance), 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals in his first two games.
Last Week: Signed Dec. 22
Forward | 6-11, 230 | Returning
Maybe it was just getting used to his teammates. Maybe it was practicing with Amar'e at the Knicks' facility that got him going. Maybe Benson was just waiting for the Northern-Pennsylvania permafrost to set in. Whatever it is, a player we had ranked among our top big men to start the year has taken off, with the former Hawk averaging 12.5 points, 10 boards and 3 blocks over his last two games -- while taking on Miles Plumlee and Luke Harangody of Fort Wayne and Tyler Wilkerson of Austin. Benson needs consistency like John Boehner needs a hug, but this is the impact we expected early on.
Last Week: No. 29
Forward | 6-10, 225 | Drafted
Harper, too, has started to heat up. The long former Magic big man just went for 21 points (on 14 shots) and three blocks against Reno on Dec. 29. He'll need to throw himself in the lane a little more to make good on his size, but this is a start.
Last Week: No. 22
Forward | 6-7, 225 | Returning Player
The NBA D-League's best 3-point shooter (among Prospects) has fired at 45.6 percent from behind the arc and 49 percent overall this year, in addition to 4.4 boards, a steal and a block per night. He could use more of a distribution game, because in the NBA, defenders will close out on him faster than water ices over in Reno.
Last Week: No. 30
Forward | 6-4, 190 | Returning Player
Rojas has played just 22.5 minutes a night this year. But in terms of efficiency, the only current Prospect who's made better use of his minutes is the guy that tops this list. Rojas has shot 53.2 percent from the field, picked up 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals and put up 9.5 points a night in less than half a regulation game.
Last Week: Unranked
On the Cusp
  • Mychel Thompson, G/F, Sioux Falls
  • Rick Jackson, F, Austin
  • Chris Roberts, G, Texas
  • Elijah Millsap, F, L.A.
  • Demetris Nichols, F, Sioux Falls
  • Brian Butch, C, Bakersfield Jam
  • Mike Singletary, F, Erie
  • Andy Rautins, G, Tulsa
  • Dominique Sutton, G, Tulsa
  • Mark Tyndale, F, Sioux Falls
  • Jarrid Famous, F, L.A.
  • Walker Russell, G, Reno
  • Durrell Summers, G/F, Idaho Stampede
  • Taylor Griffin, F, Santa Cruz
  • Troy Hudson, G, Sioux Falls
  • Jorge Gutierrez, G, Canton
  • Mickell Gladness, C, Santa Cruz
  • Stefhon Hannah, G, Santa Cruz
  • Sean Evans, F, Idaho
  • Willie Reed, F, Springfield
  • Tony Mitchell, F, Fort Wayne
  • Mike Davis, F, Sioux Falls
  • Micheal Eric, C/F, Erie BayHawks

Previous Weeks

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