Prospect Watch 2012-13: Week Two
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: Weekend Recap & Rise of Troy | Original Big Board | Top 10 Performances of the Weekend|
Before the excitement starts flying around, the former NBA swingman did have 12 turnovers in two games. But he also had 60 points in 82 minutes -- following up a 49-point affair in his final preseason game -- on 52.8-percent shooting (including a 6-for-9 mark from distance), and even took 18 foul shots between the two games. Normally, scoring's not the ticket to get a player out of the NBA D-League. But, like an ever-growing number of players in the top tier of NBA D-League Prospects, CDR's an NBA player just waiting for his number to be called again. And right now, it's looking like he's next in line.
Last Week: No. 2
Wright didn't get much of a chance to play during Toronto's training camp. He clearly had a lot bottled up. Over the Red Claws' two weekend games, the former Golden State Warrior (24 games in 2011-12) came out charging, averaging 21 points, 10.5 rebounds and two blocks over the pair. A bit of a 'tweener,' Wright's taken significant strides toward distancing himself from that label, both in terms of his athleticism (he stands 6-foot-8, but has a vertical to compensate) and his stroke (he went 3-for-4 from 3-point range and shot better than 55 percent for the weekend).
Last Week: No. 4
The Mini-Mamba -- and former deep-distance assassin at Charleston -- wasn't clicking from outside from the get-go on Saturday, but he found his stroke over the course of the game. His five turnovers were a bit worrisome, but as Goudelock continues to evolve as a combo guard instead of a straight 2-guard, he'll have a lot of support in Sioux Falls -- from both his system and his new teammate, longtime NBA point guard Troy Hudson.
Last Week: No. 3
|We expected Johnson -- all 6-foot-10, Kevin-Garnett-trained, Doc-Rivers-coached of him -- to dominate. Then, on Friday, he struggled making buckets and spent most of Sunday on the bench in foul trouble. He's got a lot of time to make the leap he needs to get back into the NBA, but his first step was a shaky one.
Last Week: No. 1
|Jones could have nabbed the title of Breakout Performer of the Weekend if he just stuck with his opening-night performance, when the West Virginia product -- one of only three players to ever lead the Big East in scoring and rebounds for a season -- went for 26 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. Then he followed it up with a 31-point, 16-rebound night less than 24 hours later, making him the weekend's Top Performer.
Last Week: No. 9
Mack, John Wall's backup at point guard in 2011-12, fell out of the NBA after slogging through a tough few months of hoops in Vegas and NBA training camp. So in his NBA D-League debut, he did what got him to the NBA in the first place: he attacked. A little too much, at times -- he averaged 4.5 turnovers in two games -- but he also showed off his propensity for making a defense squirm, going for 19 points and five assists a night (not to mention six rebounds).
Last Week: No. 6
|Note: Harper makes his debut Wednesday, when Idaho takes on L.A.
High release coming off a 6-foot-10 frame and a tender shooting touch make him a tough matchup. Needs to pack on some bulk and strength, but he's already put on 20 pounds of muscle since coming to the NBA two years ago.
Last Week: No. 7
|We were wrong. We had Varnado ranked in the teens last week, unsure of what the NCAA's all-time blocked-shots leader would bring to the league after getting cut by the Heat during training camp. Turns out the answer was more blocks than Lego. Varnado swatted six shots in 25 minutes on Saturday, which projects to 9.6 per 40, and grabbed 14 rebounds while he was at it. Said his coach Joel Abelson: "He's an NBA player."
Last Week: No. 17
|Sims, the Georgetown-reared 7-footer who spent time with the Knicks in training camp, got himself into foul trouble but still managed to put up 12 rebounds and eight points in 23 minutes against Fort Wayne. Maybe it was a matter of adjusting to the pro game, but Sims played a half-beat behind on the inside. Like most big men in this league, he'll speed up. In the meantime, his body will do a bunch of the heavy lifting. Of itself.
Last Week: No. 10
|Thompson's game's getting smoother and his touch, sharper -- including a 4-for-4 performance from 3-point range in the preseason, he's now 7-for-9 on the year -- and none of that's come at the cost of the human blur he often makes himself on the court. In 45 minutes of action on Friday, the swingman picked up seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and 16 points. Last year, Thompson -- who opened the season in Cleveland -- projected as somewhere between a 2 or 3. As long as he keeps hitting from outside, it turns out he could play either one.
Last Week: No. 21
|Note: Dentmon makes his debut Wednesday, when Austin takes on Texas
The reigning league MVP shredded up the NBA D-League last year and led his team to the league title and finished Summer League strong for the Mavericks, but not until he spent two games getting shots blocked by taller, more agile competition. Dynamite playmaker, but needs to become 3-point threat to remain in NBA.
Last Week: No. 11
|More of the same from Eyenga. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. While his 9.5 points per night in the Legends' two games fell shy of expectations, Eyenga's value has never come as a scorer. He's just a huge body -- for a guard -- who moves in bursts and looks, when he jumps, like he's got a trampoline under him. So his four blocks on Friday were nice to see.
Last Week: No. 8
|Uzoh, like Jorge Gutierrez -- against whom he matched up against on Saturday night -- brings with him a pre-approved defensive game. And that was on display again on Saturday, with two steals, a block and 10 rebounds (six of them defensive). But he's also on the rise offensively, with the most glaring defect in his game steadily turning into an asset. Uzoh brought aggression, vision and poise into his play at the point in Springfield's opener, dishing out six assists to just one turnover and scoring 16 points (though it took 20 shots to get there).
Last Week: No. 30
|Note: Jackson makes his debut Friday, when Reno takes on Santa Cruz
Veteran of 138 NBA games (though just 7.5 mpg) played in Ukraine last year during lockout and came back to Kings camp 25 pounds lighter.
Last Week: No. 16
|Note: Leslie started the year on the Inactive list for Santa Cruz, which opens its season on Friday against Reno
If you're drafting players for a highlight reel, Leslie's a lotto pick. Fast, dynamic and with more hops than a double-IPA, Leslie spent 2011-12 with the Clippers, but didn't show quite enough NBA-level acumen to crack into the lineup on the regular. Tools are there. They just need to be sharpened.
Last Week: No. 15
|Davis, the second-leading rebounder in Illinois history, finds himself in a tough spot. On a Sioux Falls squad that also features Jarvis Varnado, it'll be tough to wipe the glass like he's used to. And in his Sioux Falls debut, he struggled to make a noticeable impact, scoring just two points with five rebounds and four fouls. But few players in this league bring with them the combination of body and bounce that Davis does, so look for him to start scaling this list again soon.
Last Week: No. 12
|Shooting woes plagued James' weekend, with the former Net going a combined 10-for-32 in his first two games, but he still swarmed the boards (8 rpg) and affected the game on defense. Shots come and go, but defense wins c...all-ups.
Last Week: No. 22
|By the time he'd recovered fully from an ACL tear that ended his senior year at St. John's, Kennedy had become one of the league's biggest triple-double threats every night. And in his first appearance of this season, the Summer League invitee went off, scoring 21 points with 10 boards (and only two turnovers) in 40 minutes. Kennedy could be this year's Lance Thomas -- one of the rare players without one transcendent skill, who still put enough together to stick in the NBA.
Last Week: Unranked
|Note: Witherspoon, who was traded to Rio Grande Valley from Austin on Tuesday, makes his debut Wednesday, when RGV takes on Tulsa
Member of that freshman class at Memphis alongside Tyreke Evans, Witherspoon was once predicted as first-round pick in 2011 NBA Draft, but rough junior year kept him at Memphis; recovered efficiency as senior, then had impressive preseason with Spurs this October -- highlight was his 17-point, 6-for-9 (3-for-6 from behind arc), 4-rebound night in 28 minutes against Rockets.
Last Week: No. 19
Benson's play at Summer League and Hawks training camp made him one of the league's elite big men coming into this season. And while he's still part of the upper tier, he'll need to do a little more going forward. He picked up five fouls on Friday, limiting his minutes to 19 and his rebounds to four. At times in Las Vegas, Benson took over the game against NBA competition. He'll do so again, but he didn't give himself much of a chance in his 2012-13 debut.
Last Week: No. 20
|Note: Moon makes his debut Wednesday, when L.A. takes on Idaho
String of double-doubles, 48.5-percent clip from the field and improved defense earned him a quick Call-Up from the D-Fenders last year. But at 32, how many go-rounds does Moon have left?
Last Week: No. 23
|Note: Jackson, who was traded from Santa Cruz to Austin on Tuesday, makes his debut Wednesday, when Austin takes on Texas
Bouncy athlete out of Cuse who shot better than 55 percent from the floor and pulled down 10.3 boards a game his senior year in 2010-11
Last Week: No. 24
|Well. He's still rebounding. Adrien will continue to suffer under the stigma that he's too short to play the 4, but he's clearly a master of what kind of carnage he can bring in the paint, as the veteran of 31 NBA games averaged 12 boards and 23 points -- and even had four blocks against Bakersfield in RGV's opener -- for the weekend.
Last Week: Unranked
|Coming out of Cal, where he was the 2011-12 Pac-12 Player of the Year, the main question surrounding Gutierrez was whether the three-time Pac-12 Defensive Teamer could handle the ball at the pro level. This weekend, he carved away some of that doubt, showing an ability to explode with the ball, create for his teammates and still stay (largely) in control. His finishing abilities will take a hit against high-level competition, but defensively, he has few peers.
Last Week: No. 25
|Note: Reeves was inactive for Rio Grande Valley's first two games
Led UCLA in scoring and rebounding as sophomore in 2010-11, but was dismissed due to conduct detrimental to team during controversy-plagued junior season. Brought into Lakers camp, hung around until the end, but after he got cut the Rockets liked him so much that they signed up for a day, then waived him to keep him in the organization in RGV. Also, he's 21.
Last Week: No. 13
|Eric scored just six points in 43 minutes across two Canton games this weekend, though he did grab 12 rebounds between those two contests. The frame's there, and a few spectacular dunks showed that the hops are, too, but Eric's got some growing to do if he's going to harness his potential.
Last Week: No. 26
|Rautins hangs near the edge of our Top Prospect rankings based solely on his jumper. He doesn't do much else -- between Tulsa's two games this week, he averaged 13.5 points and just one assist -- but he can kill you from long range. It's what got him a Knicks contract out of Syracuse and it's what'll get him back to the NBA if he makes it. And after going 7-for-13 from 3-point range on the weekend, he's not off to a terrible start.
Last Week: No. 27
|Only other University of Alabama player to finish in school's top 15 in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks was Robert Horry. Spurs signed Green, then cut him in order to retain him as Affiliate Player and see how he performs in Austin using San Antonio's system.
Last Week: No. 28
|Note: Famous makes his debut Wednesday, when L.A. takes on Idaho
When he's on, he's nearly unstoppable in NBA D-League action. When he's off, he looks like he sleep-walked into the gym. Famous vaulted up the Top Prospects list last year, then jetted overseas. But he's coming off a productive Summer League and training camp with Memphis. Will we see a focused Famous?
Last Week: No. 29
|Cusworth's gonna need some time. He got an invite to Celtics training camp after basically two years of rehab, following surgery to repair an ankle tendon he ruptured while playing in Spain. Then a stress fracture kept him out of action even longer. But the Celtics and Red Claws liked what he offers enough to keep him as an Affiliate Player, so there's something there. But with four minutes of action in Maine's opener this weekend, it might be a while before he shows it -- especially with centers Fab Melo and Scott VanderMeer on the roster.
Last Week: No. 18
On the Cusp
- Oscar Bellfield, G, Erie
- Garrett Temple, G, Reno
- Chris Wright, G, Iowa
- Mustapha Farrakhan, G, Iowa
- Nick Covington, G, Erie
- Ron Howard, G, Fort Wayne
- James Mays, F, Springfield
- Micah Downs, G, Maine