Prospect Watch 2012-13: The First Big Board

The NBA D-League bills itself as the fastest way to the NBA. These are the 30 guys who should get there first.
Related: After Movement Monday, The Top Prospects In Transit | Weekly Dev Report | Draft Recap | Full List of Claimed Players
1
JaJuan
Johnson
Forward | 6-10, 220 | Drafted
No. 1 overall pick in 2012 NBA D-League Draft Live Via Cisco WebEx is just a year removed from outclassing Big Ten competition, but while he has a precious combo of size & quickness, needs to add strength and finesse to post game. May not be in Fort Wayne long.
2
Chris
Douglas-Roberts
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Affiliate Player
Swingman with 155 NBA games to his name showed glimpses of what he could become during 2009-10 season with Nets, going for 9.8 points and 3 boards in 25.8 minutes a night, but faltered with Milwaukee in 2010-11 and played abroad last year.
3
Andrew
Goudelock
Guard | 6-3, 200 | Drafted
The "Mini Mamba" -- a nickname given him by The Black Mamba himself when Goudelock was in L.A. -- didn't get a chance to play a ton with Lakers, but when he did, he showed same scoring touch he had when he was making Charleston a contender. NBA-level offensive weapon if he finds right fit.
4
Chris
Wright
Forward | 6-8, 225 | Returning
The hyper-athletic swingman played 24 games for the Warriors last year and earned an invite to Raptors training camp this fall. He can finish at the rim and shoot a little, but he'll get a Call-Up based on his ability to defend from the paint to the perimeter.
5
James
Anderson
Guard | 6-6, 215 | Affiliate Player
The long (6-foot-6, 210-pound) shooting guard logged 77 games with the Spurs over the past two years. His main value now stems from his defense, but he's going in search of a jumper that abandoned him last year. (Note: Though Anderson's on a Call-Up to the San Antonio Spurs, he stays on the list because he's not yet a fully established NBA player)
6
Shelvin
Mack
Guard | 6-3, 215 | Drafted
John Wall's backup in 2010-11 still needs to improve his capacity for creation -- like many guards in the NBA D-League, he's in the process of transitioning from 2-guard to point guard -- but his ability to put pressure on a defense should take him far.
7
Justin
Harper
Forward | 6-10, 225 | Drafted
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.
8
Christian
Eyenga
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Drafted
It's a daunting task to get by Eyenga, a 6-foot-7 frame on rocket-launcher legs, on the perimeter. Offensively, though, he's not there yet. The good thing for his Texas teammates, though, is that if they forget anything at the practice facility, they can be pretty confident that Eyenga will still be there late into the night, working on his 3-point game.
9
Kevin
Jones
Forward | 6-8, 250 | Affiliate Player
The Big EAST's leader in scoring (19.9 ppg) and rebounding (10.9 rpg) -- one of only three players to ever do that -- and Second Team All-American went undrafted because of his suspect size (he's listed at 6-foot-8), but you can expect some NBA D-League opponents to be the recipients of Jones' rage at being spurned.
10
Henry
Sims
Center | 7-0, 240 | Affiliate Player
The 22-year-old 7-footer out of Georgetown can use offensive polish the way that Adam Sandler could use a decent role, but 7-feet is 7-feet, and he'll have the whole Knicks staff tuned in to his development.
11
Justin
Dentmon
Center | 6-0, 185 | Returning
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.
12
Mike
Davis
Forward | 6-9, 225 | Affiliate Player
Second all-time rebounding leader in Illinois hoops history is also crafty and deadly around the basket. Prone to lapses in focus in the past, but looking to put those fears to rest early.
13
Reeves
Nelson
Forward | 6-8, 235 | Affiliate Player
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.
14
Michael
Eric
Center | 6-11, 240 | Affiliate Player
The Nigerian-born 7-footer and dual-first-namer out of Temple averaged 9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 19 games as a senior, and earned comparisons to Serge Ibaka in his progression from Cavs coach Byron Scott. The Cavaliers signed him to a partially guaranteed deal over the summer, so, if he makes strides in Canton, Cleveland will most likely want to get some value on the investment.
15
Travis
Leslie
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
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.
16
Darnell
Jackson
Forward | 6-9, 253 | Affiliate Player
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.
17
Jarvis
Varnado
Forward | 6-9, 210 | Affiliate Player
The all-time shot blocker in NCAA history is also one of two players in the history of D-I college hoops to reach the 1000-point, 1000-rebound, 500-block plateau. The other one's David Robinson. A 2010 pick of the Miami Heat, he's played internationally since then, but comes to the NBA D-League after an injury kept him sidelined at Heat camp this fall.
18
Brian
Cusworth
Center | 7-0, 255 | Affiliate Player
Lin's teammate at Harvard has gained about 50 pounds since his freshman year, filling out his 7-foot frame and enjoying so much success in Europe that he decided to come back and make a run at the league into which he was nearly drafted in 2007.
19
Wesley
Witherspoon
Forward | 6-9, 207 | Affiliate Player
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.
20
Keith
Benson
Forward | 6-11, 230 | Returning
After Hawks cut him last year (and Benson went out to smack around NBA D-League big men for a few months), Atlanta invited him back for Summer League and training camp. Benson still needs more consistency -- he dominated some action in Las Vegas, and vanished at other times -- but this small-school big man is clearly evolving against better competition.
21
Mychel
Thompson
Forward | 6-7, 215 | Returning
Springy forward -- and brother of Klay -- made the Cavs to start the season last year, then got an invite to Knicks training camp, but looking to develop jumper to supplement defensive chops.
22
Damion
James
Forward | 6-7, 225 | Affiliate Player
The veteran of 32 NBA games -- all of 'em with the then-New Jersey Nets -- has the strength and hops to make up for a deficit in height, but he'll need to find the right situation (ideally, one with a team that spreads the floor) to get him back into the NBA. In the meantime, expect number of black eyes and bruises in the NBA D-League to balloon.
23
Jamario
Moon
Forward | 6-9, 207 | Affiliate Player
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?
24
Rick
Jackson
Forward | 6-9, 240 | Affiliate Player
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
25
Jorge
Gutierrez
Guard | 6-3, 195 | Drafted
The dreadlocked whirlwind out of Cal was the Pac-12 Player of the Year last year and wrapped up his time in Berkeley as a three-time Pac-12 All-Defensive First Teamer, in addition to being his team's heart and soul. Will need to improve as a point guard, but defensively, he's as crushing as an insult.
26
Oscar
Bellfield
Guard | 6-2, 190 | Affiliate Player
The UNLV point guard became the all-time assists leader in WAC history his senior year, averaging 5.4 a game and putting up a 2.38 assist-to-turnover ratio.
27
Andy
Rautins
Guard | 6-4, 190 | Affiliate Player
Great distributor (4.9 assists per game) and shooter (40.7 percent from behind the arc) in final year at Syracuse. Didn't get much run with Knicks in 2010-11, then played in Spain during 2011-12.
28
JaMychal
Green
Guard | 6-9, 220 | Affiliate Player
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.
29
Jarrid
Famous
Forward/Center | 6-11, 240 | Returning
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?
30
Ben
Uzoh
Guard | 6-4, 195 | Returning
The Smash Williams doppelganger -- in face and frame -- comes back to the NBA D-League after having a good run in Vegas himself. Uzoh's defense belongs in the NBA, but his point guard skills still need some time to progress in the NBA D-League.