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Prospect Watch: Week Three
One-third of the NBA D-League is up at NBA training camps. Who's got a chance to stick?
Tulsa's Jerome Dyson is part of a pack of seven NBA D-Leaguers in New Orleans camp.
NBAE via Getty Images
AUSTIN TOROS (5)
Justin Dentmon (NOH), Squeaky Johnson (NOH), Lance Thomas (NOH), Leo Lyons (NOH), Luke Zeller (SAN)Dentmon's become one of the most explosive playmakers in the league and might find himself in NOLA depending on how the Chris Paul situation shakes out. ... Lyons, healed from a foot/ankle injury, looked NBA-ready going into year … Four-year D-League vet Squeaky Johnson’s looking for his first NBA contract; will have competition from clone Dentmon … Lance Thomas, Duke grad, has upped his all-around game (including defense) and projects anywhere from 2-guard to PF ... Zeller, 6-11 center, needs to grab more boards to be considered viable call-up.
BAKERSFIELD JAM (3)
Brian Butch (NOH), Adam Koch (LAC), Renaldo Major (LAC)Butch, as weird a 3-point threat as they come, is a rebounding & scoring machine so far after missing all 2010-11 w/ bad injury; Aaron Gray’s departure opens door at center … Koch, at 6-8, is ‘tweener,’ but a strong rebounder … Major, a swingman knocking on door for years, could fill in Clippers team ISO puzzle pieces around Blake.
CANTON CHARGE (2)
Keith McLeod (UTA), Tyrrell Biggs (CLE)McLeod's played more than 200 NBA games, and Jazz sure could use a point guard with Deron in Jersey -- main competition for what could be one roster spot is D-Fender PG and former NBA player Jamaal Tinsley ... Biggs is interesting scorer/rebounder combo with good size for 3-or-4.
DAKOTA WIZARDS (4)
Marcus Dove (OKC), Anthony Goods (OKC), Mickell Gladness (MIA), Edwin Ubiles (GSW)Dove, in second stint with OKC doesn't score much, but he's a red-wine defender -- good luck getting him off, and he's only gotten better with age ... Goods is one of league's top 3-point shooters, and OKC could use another outside threat ... Gladness has height, but needs grooming and better nose for ball (3.8 rpg career) ... Ubiles has become hot name of late; rare athleticism/size combo pairs well with GSW.
ERIE BAYHAWKS (5)
Cory Higgins (DEN), Mychel Thompson (CLE), Donald Sloan (ATL), Chris Daniels (LAL), Kyle Goldcamp (CLE)Higgins, son of Rod, opened up great, but has been plagued by poor shooting lately; good size for guard, but needs to work on distribution ... Thompson off to impressive start for Erie, showing agility and end-to-end ability very similar to Cavs pick Tristan Thompson ... Sloan, one of the league's best combo guards, may find on a spot on an Atlanta roster in flux ... Daniels is a 7-footer averaging a double-double (16.4 ppg/11.2 rpg) with 2.2 blocks per game; could offer support inside to aging Lakers core ... Goldcamp, at 6-foot-10, had 19 rebounds in opener this year, but has rarely stood out in D-League.
FORT WAYNE MAD ANTS (5)
Walker Russell (DET), Cameron Jones (MIA), Darnell Lazare (IND), Ron Howard (MIL),Chris Hunter (NYK)Russell, better-seasoned than first time around, has extraordinary passing ability; Week 1 POTW might find home in Detroit ... Jones can score, but he'll need to do more to stick around in South Beach ... Lazare's putting up best numbers of career and plays bigger than 6-foot-8 ... Howard has been great shooter in five-year D-League career, but will have to shoot lights out in camp ... Hunter suffered torn Achilles last year, but 6-11 center is dominating force when healthy; played with Warriors in 09-10.
IDAHO STAMPEDE (1)
Seth Tarver (POR)Tarver, a spry 6-5 guard, has blossomed in second season; does Brandon Roy's retirement create opening?
IOWA ENERGY (3)
Moses Ehambe (NOH), Billy White (MIA), Jarrid Famous (IND)Ehambe, after a long year, has gone from role player to star; Hornets very open to D-Leaguers this year -- keep an eye on him. ... White, a recent Iowa signing out of SDSU, should get to know Haslem well in MIA ... Famous has been an editor-favorite this year; he got bigger in offseason, and it's time he played against guys his own size.
LOS ANGELES D-FENDERS (6)
Courtney Fortson (LAC), Zach Andrews (LAL), Elijah Millsap (LAL), Brian Hamilton (DET), Terrence Roberts (OKC), Jamaal Tinsley (UTA)Fortson's shooting 60 percent from 3-point range, and he can rebound & dish, too; a little Baron Davis-like ... Andrews has great size for PF, and he hoards boards (not to mention shoots 60 pct from field) ... Millsap, younger brother of Paul, has been revelation thus far -- Top 5 player this season, and could give Lakers some high voltage off bench ... Hamilton works hard defensively, and will haunt Pistons' regulars' dreams in camp ... Roberts will try to beat up on Ibaka in preseason, but still needs seasoning ... Tinsley, the former NBA star, looks like a favorite to get a contract -- despite inconsistencies -- after showing some flashes of brilliance early on.
MAINE RED CLAWS (6)
Durrell Summers (CHA), Kenny Hayes (CLE), Antonio Anderson (PHI), Chris Wright (GSW), Mike Tisdale (PHI)Summers was once top prospect at MSU, and his 30-pt, 7-reb sendoff helps cause w/ rebuilding Bobcats ... Hayes can light up scoreboard, but he's attractive because he can pass and pester ... Anderson's committed himself to defense, and it's a new era of team-ball in Philly ... Wright went No. 3 in Draft, and can run with anybody -- like Mark Jackson's Warriors (although shooting's sometimes an issue) ... Tisdale brings a whole lotta height (7-1), but not much else to boast on his resume yet.
RENO BIGHORNS (3)
Blake Ahearn (LAC), Zach Graham (ATL), Doug Thomas (SAN)Ahearn's put it all together this year; could be throwing alley-oops soon ... Graham can knock 'em down from anywhere, but he'll need to use that 6-6 frame for defense ... Thomas, to help Spurs, needs to focus on rebounding, which he did extremely well in Games 1 and 2, and then sort of stopped doing.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY (3)
Terrel Harris (MIA), Marshall Brown (POR), Tyren Johnson (IND)Harris, one of the more well-rounded guys in the D-League, can do everything -- but he might struggle for a role in Miami ... Brown's another tweener-type, but he's shown he can operate effectively inside and out ... Johnson, the third in RGV's assortment of athletes, looks to have the best chance of the three, as a 6-8 swingman who can make it rain.
SIOUX FALLS (4)
Greg Stiemsma (BOS), Gabe Pruitt (ORL), Casey Mitchell (HOU), Charles Garcia (ATL)Stiemsma already has some NBA roster experience (a time spent purely on the bench for Minnesota in 2010), but he's turned into one of the D-League's best inside defenders; the C's are looking for answers in camp -- if Stiemsma impresses, he'll be in green come January ... Pruitt, who won a ring with Boston, is firing at an all-time best clip from behind the arc; plus, the Magic need touch from the outside on the cheap ... Casey Mitchell was playing "out of his mind" before he got the call-up, said teammate Dominique Coleman, but will that be enough? ... Garcia, a 6-10 forward, has paced the Skyforce in scoring, but his rebounding acumen may fall short of what the Hawks need in their search for a big man to help out Horford.
SPRINGFIELD ARMOR (4)
Jeff Foote (POR), JamesOn Curry (NJN), Jerry Smith (NJN), Dennis Horner (NJN)Foote only recently signed in Springfield, but the 7-footer out of Cornell was Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year twice and has gotten used to holding his own in the lane in Europe ... Curry, a do-everything guard, already has NBA experience, and looks to be the favorite of the three guys out of Springfield -- the Nets' single-affiliate, an arrangement that's made the trio flow well at camp -- to stay on in Jersey (by way of Brooklyn) ... Smith is a scorer, but Avery Johnson will ask for more from the Louisville product ... Horner's 6-9, 230 frame could use a little more weight and time spent playing against pros, but he's already fearless in the lane.
TEXAS LEGENDS (3)
Jamal Sampson (BOS), Lawrence Hill (SAC), Dominique Johnson (MIN), Matthew Rogers (IND)Sampson, a former NBA player, hurt his ankle in Week 1, but only after pulling down 20 rebounds on opening weekend; and with the loss of Perkins and Big Baby, the C's are in need of steady inside help ... Hill's a little undersized, but he positions himself well for rebounds, and may challenge for a final spot on a smaller Sacramento team ... Johnson may not have a place in a revamped backcourt in Minnesota, but after re-focusing on his defense, he looks to at least make a splash in camp ... Rogers, at 6-11, still has yet to see prolonged time in the NBA D-League.
TULSA 66ers (5)
Jerome Dyson (NOH), Curtis Sumpter (TOR), Marcus Lewis (MIL), Dwight Buycks (PHX), Ryan Reid (OKC)Dyson is in the running for best defender in the NBA D-League, and could very well become glue off the bench for the Hornets ... Sumpter, the one-time star out of Villanova, has turned himself into about as good a rebounder as a 6-7 guy can be ... Lewis, a product of now-Cavs-assistant Nate Tibbetts' defense-first system in Tulsa, hasn't shown quite the two-way talent of Dyson, however ... Buycks, out of Marquette, can dodge and move, but he could probably use some more time in development ... Reid's already got four double-doubles to start the year.