Prospect Watch 2012-13: Week Three

The NBA D-League bills itself as the fastest way to the NBA. After the first weekend of play, these are the 30 guys who look like they'll get there first.
Related: Dev Report: A Perfect Storm for Assignments | Last Week's Big Board | Top 10 Prospect Performances of the Weekend
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Affiliate Player
CDR's first three games in the NBA D-League -- in addition to his NBA resume and that 49-point preseason explosion -- were enough to launch him to the No. 1 spot on this list. His last two games were even better. Douglas-Roberts hasn't had trouble scoring so far, leading all Prospects with 27.8 ppg (and shooting 50 percent to get himself there), but this week, just to keep himself challenged, he threw in a 6.5-rebound, 6-assist per game mark (including a huge game on Sunday). In a year so far defined by Assignments, CDR's looked indistinguishable from the NBA players milling around the league.
Last Week: No. 1
Forward | 6-8, 225 | Returning
Even outside of his windmill dunk on Friday, Wright's punished the rim -- and anybody in his path -- this year, at 19.5 points and 10 rebounds a game (not to mention 3 steals). But he's also exhibited some ability from mid- to long-range, though he hasn't tested himself from the perimeter too much yet (he's 5-for-8 from behind the arc). He stuck with the Golden State Warriors for most of 2011-12 based on his penchant for ruining an offense's night faster than a bad toast, but if he's going to enter an NBA rotation, outside shooting is going to open the door.
Last Week: No. 2
Guard | 6-3, 200 | Drafted
If you're looking to see why Goudelock's still No. 3, watch the second half of this clip, as the 'Mini-Mamba' hits 3-pointer after 3-pointer down the stretch to send Sioux Falls to the win. If you're looking to see why it's a precarious position for him at the moment, look a little deeper into his numbers. Goudelock's third in the league in scoring among players with more than one appearance, but he's needed nearly 23 shots a night to keep his 23.7 ppg average, shooting just 39.7 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. On Sunday, he didn't get to the line a single time. Shooters go through slumps, sure, and Goudelock's size, athleticism and clear NBA potential help instulate his Prospect status from icy fingers, but he's yet to come out with a game in which he's truly taken over from start to finish.
Last Week: No. 3
Forward | 6-9, 210 | Affiliate Player
Little-known fact about Jarvis Varnado: when you block someone on Twitter, he's the one that actually does it. A man in possession of an insatiable stomach for swatting, Varnado's now blocked 17 shots in three games (5.7 per game). That stat alone would have sent him a few spots higher than where he was last week, but when you throw in his 15.7-point, 9.3-rebound mark over the past three games (while shooting nearly 70 percent), it's hard to imagine the reigning NBA D-League Performer of the Week as anywhere but the Top 3 next week. Except for the NBA.
Last Week: No. 8
Forward | 6-10, 220 | Drafted
There we go. Or, rather, there he goes. After falling from the No. 1 spot in the rankings last week, Johnson answered by doing exactly what got him into the NBA in the first place: putting up a fence around the key. He's still having a grueling time putting the ball in the hoop, shooting 31.9 percent from the floor, but the former Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year also averaged 13 rebounds and 4.3 blocks a game last week.
Last Week: No. 4
Guard | 6-3, 205 | Returning Player
Through three games, Springfield has two players pulling down eight or more rebounds a night. One of them plays center. The other? Point guard. Uzoh's accuracy can use a boost (at 34.8 percent through three games, he's way below his career mark of 47.8), but every other part of his game's sizzling. The NBA-caliber perimeter defender's added a distribution game to his skill set, too, racking up more than six assists a game (and just 1.33 turnovers a night) to go along with those eight boards.
Last Week: No. 13
Guard | 6-3, 215 | Drafted
Turnovers still plague Mack, but he's making strides in his attempt to refine his point guard game and transform completely from the shooting guard role he played at Butler. Quick, explosive and able to finish at the rim, his 15.5-point, 7.5-assist averages last week were held down a bit by five turnovers in two games.
Last Week: No. 6
Forward | 6-10, 225 | Drafted
Harper rolled off two solid performances in a row -- a 20-point, 10-rebound night against Bakersfield on Nov. 29 and a 16-point, 13-rebound game against Austin two nights later -- before going quiet on Sunday. He, like Goudelock, has yet to find the rhythm that makes them so lethal both in open space and in traffic, but his work on the boards keeps him firmly in the Top 10.
Last Week: No. 7
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
When the Santa Cruz Warriors took on the Bakersfield Jam on Monday night, the No. 13 pick in this year's NBA D-League Draft stood out more than the No. 13 pick in the NBA one. In his best game since coming to Santa Cruz in November's Draft, Leslie went for 21 points and 14 boards in 36 minutes, showing off the hops that so interested the Clippers when they drafted him in 2011.
Last Week: No. 15
Guard | 6-6, 215 | Returning Player
Kennedy, who opened the season with a double-double, very nearly had another one on Friday, with 21 points and nine rebounds -- not to mention four assists and five steals -- against a Canton team featuring 7-foot Michael Eric and recent Cavs Call-Up Kevin Jones on the interior. Few players outside the NBA can affect the game in as many ways as Kennedy can, and if he can stay closer to his 3-for-4 mark from 3-point range on Friday than his 0-for-6 line on a Sunday, he'll have the chance to do that at the game's highest level soon.
Last Week: No. 18
Center | 7-0, 240 | Affiliate Player
In three games this year, Sims has made the Knicks and BayHawks look wise for hanging on to him with their Affiliate Rights. Averaging 14.3 points and 8.7 boards a game, Sims' rebounding numbers did take a bit of a hit this weekend in a matchup with Canton's Michael Eric -- Eric's 13 rebounds a game kept Sims to just seven a night -- but he's scoring with efficiency and using his body to create positioning better than he did at Georgetown. His assists numbers, though, which got as high as 3.5 a game in his senior year, have vanished, with just one in three games.
Last Week: No. 9
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Drafted
Eyenga did a number of things well last week. He helped to shut down Scott Machado and Justin Dentmon. He blocked a bunch of shots (from the guard position, remember). He leaped across the state of Texas for this fourth-quarter dunk. His shot needs a lot of work, but athletes like this tend to find jobs before too long, especially in an NBA that's tending more and more toward transition play.
Last Week: No. 12
Forward | 6-7, 215 | Returning
Thompson struggled through two tough games over the weekend, ending up with fewer combined points (15), rebounds (6) and assists (4) than he had in his first game of the year, when he went 16-7-5, respectively. He did limit his turnovers (just one in two games) and, with Thompson, defense comes standard.
Last Week: No. 10
Forward | 6-9, 253 | Affiliate Player
The veteran of 138 games came to Reno (after Sacramento Kings camp) down about 25 pounds from his previous playing weight. A quicker Jackson's already shining through, with Reno's big man going for 17 points and 11 rebounds his last time out.
Last Week: No. 14
Guard | 6-0, 185 | Returning
The reigning MVP is always a game from going on a two-week scoring bender, but, thus far, he's looked a little out of sorts. The guy who shot 46.8 percent last year en route to 22.8 points and 5.5 assists a night has hit at just 36.4 percent from the field (though that does include a 40-percent mark from 3-point range). His assist numbers have fallen, too, to 3.8 a game -- though his rebounding's up a bit (to 4.8 a game). Four games don't create a large enough sample size for any judgment -- and that stretch certainly doesn't undo anything he's accomplished in two seasons in the NBA D-League -- but for a player looking to parlay last year's successes (including two Call-Ups) into something more, this isn't the start he'd have liked.
Last Week: No. 11
Forward | 6-7, 225 | Affiliate Player
The former Net rolled out his best game of the (very short) year so far on Nov. 29, going 9-for-15 from the field, blocking four shots and grabbing seven rebounds (actually below his average of 7.7). He still needs to hit jumpers with more consistency to put NBA teams at ease with his size, but his ability to bring down boards remains at an elite level for a swingman.
Last Week: No. 17
Forward | 6-9, 240 | Affiliate Player
Jackson played 49 minutes across two games for the Austin Toros this weekend. He didn't miss a shot over the final 31 of 'em. Well, from the field, at least. The former Syracuse big man went a perfect 9-for-9 on Sunday -- though he did go 0-for-2 from the line -- with 11 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Last Week: No. 22
Forward | 6-9, 207 | Affiliate Player
The rim wasn't kind to Witherspoon in his NBA D-League debut on Saturday. The good news? He recognized it. Instead of just waiting for the shots to fall, the former Memphis star broke past his perimeter defenders in a step, blowing into the lane and drawing fouls over and over again. He ended up 9-for-10 from the line and finished with 14 points and only eight shots.
Last Week: No. 19
Guard | 6-1, 205 | Affiliate
This is how you use the NBA D-League. The former Georgetown point guard rolled a training camp bid with New Orleans into a spot with the Energy, where, through three games, he's turned himself into the biggest surprise of the season's first 10 days. After health concerns cut Wright's 2011-12 season short, he's spent the first week of his time here ripping his competition to the tune of 19 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8 assists (to only 2.67 turnovers) a game.
Last Week: Unranked
Center | 6-11, 240 | Affiliate Player
After the first three games of his NBA D-League career, capped off by a zero-point against Fort Wayne last Wednesday, Eric looked like he was about to fall off this list. Then this weekend happened. Against Erie's pair of Top Prospect centers, Henry Sims and Keith Benson, Eric won. He only scored 19 points across the two games, but took command of the lane, grabbing 27 combined boards -- 13 of them offensive -- and blocking five shots.
Last Week: No. 26
Forward/Center | 6-11, 240 | Returning
After 12 turnovers in his first two games, the two-time Call-Up in 2011-12 slowed things down a little on Sunday. And came out with a 26-point, 7-rebound, 3-assist night. The 5-foot-11 Fortson gets by on hard work and hyperdrive, but his next step -- to ensure that he'll stay in the NBA next time he gets the chance -- will involve distribution.
Last Week: Unranked
Forward | 6-11, 230 | Returning
Benson, the 2011 Atlanta Hawks Draft pick (and 2012 Hawks Summer League and training camp invitee) just hasn't played a whole lot yet. He'll get his chance, but which Benson will come out? The one who looked like he belonged in the lane with some of the NBA's best young bigs in Las Vegas, or the one who's struggled to get into the flow (and grab more than 10 rebounds per 40 minutes) in Erie this year?
Last Week: No. 20
Forward | 6-9, 225 | Drafted
In his first extended run of the season, Davis ripped down 14 boards with four assists and three steals in 28 minutes on Sunday, hinting at the potential that the second all-time rebounder in University of Illinois history brings to his team. The issue for Davis remains whether or not he can prove he's engaged enough every night to keep the playing time coming.
Last Week: No. 16
Guard | 6-7, 245 | Returning Player
Adrien's slowed a bit from his five-alarm opening weekend, but the former Rocket's still rebounding. Through four games, he's one of just six players in the NBA D-League with a double-double average (16.3 points, 10.3 boards), although, to get a trip back to the NBA, he'll need to post more nights like his four-block effort in the opener..
Last Week: No. 23
Forward | 6-9, 230 | Affiliate
At 19 points and 13 rebounds through three games (with 4.7 of those boards coming on the offensive glass), Mays has played the central role on a Springfield team that's dominated its opponents in the rebounding column. Athletic, tough and tenacious, he just needs a little more finesse around the hoop.
Last Week: Unranked
Guard | 6-3, 195 | Drafted
The reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year (and three-time All-Defensive Teamer) still needs some time to adjust to the size and speed of professional defenders -- his seven turnovers on Friday speak to a player looking to force the issue a little too much -- but his nine rebounds and eight assists in that very same game (after posting 11 boards and five steals two nights prior) attest to a player worth the gamble.
Last Week: No. 24
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
The year's second-biggest surprise, Summers came back from overseas looking like the player many expected him to be after his junior year at Michigan State. Through four games, he's been everywhere on the court, with 20.5 ppg, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals a night.
Last Week: Unranked
Guard | 6-4, 190 | Affiliate Player
With the amount of players the Thunder keep sending down to Tulsa, Rautins may just have to ride the squall out. But, in a sense, he's auditioning perfectly for the role he'll play in the NBA: gunner off the bench. After starting the season at 7-for-13 from 3-point range, the former Knick played just nine minutes on Thursday, but knocked down two of the three treys he tried.
Last Week: No. 27
Forward/Center | 6-11, 240 | Returning
Robert Sacre's assignment cut hard into Famous' playing time, but the big man out of South Florida has provided a couple teasers of what's to come if he can get up to 30-plus minutes a night again: take, for example, his 10-point, 8-rebound night in just 18 minutes against Idaho on Friday.
Last Week: No. 29
Forward | 6-11, 240 | Returning
Butch has not shot the ball well so far. He hasn't even shot the ball badly. At 28.3 percent so far, the usually radar-accurate big man is firing at a clip nearly 20 percent worse than his lifetime average. So, expect some regression (progression?) toward the mean here. But Butch enters this list because he's vacuumed up more rebounds per night than any Prospect in the NBA D-League this year. If he can stay healthy for a full year -- and let these shooting woes break back toward his lifetime averages -- the 7-footer with the long-range game will make for an intriguing prospect once again.
Last Week: Unranked
On the Cusp
  • Troy Hudson, G, Sioux Falls
  • Mickell Gladness, C, Santa Cruz
  • Stefhon Hannah, G, Santa Cruz
  • Micah Downs, G, Maine
  • Orien Greene, G, Los Angeles
  • Sean Evans, F, Texas
  • Mustapha Farrakhan, G, Iowa
  • Nick Covington, G, Erie
  • Willie Reed, F, Springfield
  • Ron Howard, G, Fort Wayne
  • Walker Russell, G, Fort Wayne
  • Garrett Temple, G, Reno