Recapping The 2008 D-League Showcase

by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com

Maurice Baker, Dakota Wizards
Noah Graham/Getty Images/NBAE
January 17, 2008: The 2008 D-League Showcase is in the books after Idaho defeated Fort Wayne on Thursday night. With all of the D-League teams playing 14 games and 56 quarters of basketball, here are some of the top performers and teams that impressed the scouts and GMs in Boise. Several players who excelled at last year's Showcase went on to sign contracts with NBA teams further along in the season, so stay tuned to see if some of the players named here make the leap.

Most Successful Teams: Colorado, Idaho, Los Angeles, Utah

The 14ers, Stampede, D-Fenders, and Flash won both of their games in Boise and proved why they are rankred near the top of their respective divisions. Colorado engineered the most remarkable turnarounds from their recent form, as the 14ers outscored opponents at the Showcase by a 219 - 173 margin. The Stampede continued their tear through the D-League schedule, winning their 11th straight game and remaining undefeated at Qwest Arena.

Marquee Matchup: Austin vs. Los Angeles

Two of the league's best teams met on Thursday morning in what qualified as the best matchup of the Showcase on paper, with a total of nine players in uniform who have appeared in an NBA game in the past two years. The D-Fenders led throughout the game and came out on top by a 97-88 margin for their sixth win in a row, with Sean Banks' 21 points leading the way. Los Angeles has now won twelve of thirteen games and staked their claim on being the best team in the D-League, although the Idaho Stampede and their 11-game winning streak also deserve plenty of consideration.

Top Assigned Player: Shannon Brown, Rio Grande Valley

Brown was recalled to the Cavaliers on Thursday morning, but not before he made his mark at the Showcase with 63 points in two games. A first-round pick by Cleveland in his second season with the Cavaliers, Brown closed out his stint with the Vipers with a 37-point explosion to lead Rio Grande Valley to victory over the Dakota Wizards. Brown heads back to Cleveland after averaging 23.8 points in four games on assignment to Rio Grande Valley. Other assigned players who impressed at the Showcase included Tulsa's Ramon Sessions(Bucks) and Nick Fazekas (Mavericks), Utah's Kyrylo Fesenko(Jazz), and Austin's Ian Mahinmi (Spurs).

Top Big Man: Elton Brown, Colorado 14ers

Brown seems to get it done every night, and this year's Showcase was no exception as the 6-9 forward/center added his 13th and 14th double-doubles of the season to his resume. Brown was all over the boards in Tuesday's win over Albuquerque, scoring 19 points and pulling down 18 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. This afternoon he got right back to business with 19 points and 12 rebounds in only 27 minutes as the 14ers took apart the Tulsa 66ers. Brown was highly efficient in Boise, scoring his 38 points while shooting 12-21 from the field and 14-17 on his free-throw attempts. Idaho's Lance Allred was also impressive at the Showcase, averaging 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds as the Stampede continued to roll to 11 straight wins.

Elton Brown, Colorado 14ers
Noah Graham/Getty Images/NBAE
Top Guard And Scoring Performance: Maurice Baker, Dakota Wizards

Baker picked a good place to have the best game of his career when he lit up the scoreboard on Monday evening when he scored 41 points in the Wizards' 125-112 win over the Iowa Energy. The 6-1 guard topped his previous career high of 30 points and more than doubled his season average of 18.9 points. Baker became the fifth D-League player to top the 41-point mark this season. He followed up his game with a 27-point, 15 rebound outing in Wednesday's 119-112 loss to the Dakota Wizards, ending his showcase with 34.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists on 21-35 shooting. In his second season with Dakota, Baker is one of the D-League's most improved players at the guard position.

Top Rebounding Performance: Chris Alexander, Sioux Falls Skyforce

Alexander pulled down 24 rebounds, four shy of the D-League single-game record, on Wednesday in a 101-92 loss to the Austin Toros. The 7-1 Alexander joined the Skyforce in late December and had recorded more than ten rebounds in a game this season. Not known for his scoring, Alexander scored five points in the game but also blocked four shots and kept numerous Skyforce posessions alive with nine rebounds on the offensive glass.

Best Comeback: Anaheim Arsenal, Monday

The Arsenal looked to be headed to defeat in their Showcase opener on Monday, trailing Sioux Falls 78-63 after three quarters. Unfortunately for the Skyforce, Anahiem roared back with a 32-16 fourth quarter to win by a 99-94 margin. Ivan Johnson led all scorers with 26 points and added ten rebounds, but the difference in the game came from the Anaheim bench, where four players combined for 47 points.

Best Dunk: Mike Efevberha, Iowa Energy

There were a lot of dunks during the Showcase's fourteen games, but the 6-4 Efevberha's drive down the lane and tomahawk slam right over Utah's 7-1 Kyrylo Fesenko was my favorite of the week. Efevberha might have won that battle, but the Energy lost the war as the Flash came out with a 87-73 win in the game.