The Dev Report: Week Six

This time, in our weekly look at the top trends, stories and Prospects in the NBA D-League, we survey the growing storylines we (and, we're guessing, you) didn't see coming when the 2012-13 season began.

That Chris Douglas-Roberts would enter the NBA Development League and play like he's trying to escape Black Friday at Wal-Mart, we could've guessed.

Predicting that CDR – the one-time NBA star-in-the-making and first-team All-American for one of the greatest college teams not to win an NCAA title – would score in squalls didn't require a whole lot of insight. Or guts. Just three seasons ago, the swingman out of Memphis averaged an eyelash (a goggle-protected one) under 10 points in 25.8 minutes a night for the Nets.

So, when he came out and led the league in scoring after the season's first two weeks, putting up more than 24 a night, the surprise factor registered right around the Fox Canceled 'The Mob Doctor' level.

Same goes for the four-plus blocks a game that Jarvis Varnado, the NCAA's all-time swats leader, would put up. Or that Jeff Adrien – the dearly departed (for Charlotte) Jeff Adrien – would rebound and rebound and rebound until an NBA team took note. Or, even the drag-race pace of assignments this year, with the 42 total assignments (and 30 individual players) set to break the league's previous records (67 and 44, respectively) by Showcase.

But a few stories in this still-young 2012-13 NBA Development League season were a little tougher to see coming.

And, with four months left in the year and nearly a full month remaining until NBA teams can sign players to 10-day contracts – after which point the NBA D-League almost always sees more than 60 percent of its Call-Ups for any given year – these are the stories picking up speed.

The Emergence of Chris Wright (the other one)

The average Golden State Warrior fans, the most avid Toronto Raptors fans and the members of Maurice Acker's support group will recognize theChris Wright that plays for the Maine Red Claws. After keeping SportsCenter well-fed during four years at Dayton, the swingman split his time between Golden State (where he played 24 games) and the NBA D-League (where he played 13) last year. And while he didn't get much of a chance to show himself during training camp with the Toronto Raptors, Wright's combination of size, athleticism, defensive ability and growing offensive skill-set made him a Top 10 Prospect from the start of the year.

In the meantime, a guy with the same name came back from an illness-shortened season in Turkey just looking to get back to full strength.

And through two weeks of play, few players have done more to distinguish themselves as elite Prospects than the pair of namesakes. Maine's Wright has assaulted the basket, going for 18.8 points and 9.3 boards every night and posting one of the league's Top 10 PER metrics, all the way to the No. 2 spot in the Prospect Watch Big Board.

Meanwhile, the other Wright, a point guard for the Iowa Energy who finished his career at Georgetown sixth all-time in school history in assists, has gone from residing outside the Prospect Watch to a likely spot in the Top 15 when our rankings come out on Tuesday.

Having quieted fears about his health, which kept his Prospect status frozen, the New Orleans Hornets training camp invitee's putting up 19.8 points and 7.2 assists a night – after a night of 31 and 9, respectively, on Sunday – to vault up the charts.

The NBA D-League specializes in undersized 2-guards attempting to morph into point guards or, at the very least, passing-competent combo guards. Which makes Wright – as finished an offensive product as the league has at the point guard position – stand out from his competition at a premium position for Call-Ups.

For a neatly packaged look into what he can do, check out the video below, which starts just before he hits a long jumper, then slices to draw in the defense in transition and create a trey for a teammate, then hits another three and finishes by sinking a running, falling trifecta at the third-quarter buzzer.

All in the span of about 95 seconds.



That said, the pair of Wrights still trail Texas' (pretty-much-the)-same-named duo of Chris Roberts and Chris Douglas-Roberts in points per game, with CDRCR racking up a combined 43 a night to C-2-Double-W's 38.6.

The Legs of Troy Hudson

Hudson, as we wrote about a few weeks ago, hadn't played organized hoops in more than three years when he decided that he wanted to return to the game this summer – an epiphany that synced up pretty well with the Sioux Falls Skyforce coaching staff's mission to hire a veteran point guard. After injuries took out most of his lower limbs – from hips to ankles – over the last few runs of his 11-year NBA career, Hudson said he didn't so much as pick up a ball after a brief appearance in a privately run Summer League in 2009.

He's currently averaging 15.8 points and three assists a night through six games.

If Hudson's going to land a Call-Up and carve out the same sort of path Mike James did last year – James earned four separate Call-Ups to the Bulls in relief of an ailing Derrick Rose, giving the Bulls a steady, NBA-tested hand in a reserve role – he'll need to crank up his distribution a bit, but if any questions remain about whether or not he can still run with players 10 to 15 years his junior, they're fading fast.

The Ascent of Durrell Summers

Two and a half years ago, after rampaging his way through the NCAA Tournament and beginning to hear the words 'possible first-rounder' attached to his name, Durrell Summers decided that, rather than take the chance of falling to the second, he'd come back to Michigan State and drive himself into the Lottery.

One month ago, he was drafted in the fourth round of the NBA D-League Draft – two rounds lower than he'd gone a year prior, after going undrafted in the NBA Draft.

But over the past two weeks, playing for the Idaho Stampede, he's done more than start to put things back together. After struggling to find a role in Maine last year – he averaged 10 points and 3.2 boards in 25 minutes a night and turned the ball over three times for every assist, before going through season-ending knee surgery – he's packed the stat sheet this year, going for 16 points, 5.0 boards and 2.2 assists (to only 1.67 turnovers).

“Durrell Summers is an all-purpose guy,” said Idaho Stampede coach Mike Peck. “Having spent a month in Portland, I think he does for us what Wes Matthews does for Portland, on a lesser scale. He can be that kind of guy, and his pedigree gives him instant credibility.”

Stay tuned: we'll have more on Summers in the days to come.

Melo's Shaky Start

When the Celtics sent first-round Draft Pick Fab Melo to the Maine Red Claws a few days into the season, Boston coach Doc Rivers said he expected Melo "to be almost dominant."

Having played basketball for only six years before going 21st overall to the Celtics in June's Draft, Melo had growing to do – thus the trip to Maine. Luckily,at 7-foot, 255, that growth didn't mean physically. A natural at swatting shots, the Brazilian-born 7-footer blocked 2.9 a game in his senior year at Syracuse, relying on athleticism and height to do the work for him. That style didn't fly as well at Summer League or in training camp, but in the NBA D-League – a place not known, until this year at least, for an abundance of NBA-ready big men – Rivers reasoned that Melo could own the lane while he developed his game.

Looks like that'll take some time, too.

Melo's still blocking shots (2.2 a night), but through five appearance, he's yet to put a full game together. He's posted stretches that should remind fans why the C's liked him so much as a long-term investment – like his 11 boards in just 29 minutes against LA or 14 points (on 7-of-10 shooting) in just 18 minutes against JaJuan Johnson and Fort Wayne – but still needs to show he can impact the game on both sides of the floor.

The Celtics recalled Melo on Monday (the second time this year that they did that), but don't think that signals the end of his time in Maine. The Red Claws don't play again until Friday, so instead of keeping Fab in Portland, Maine – 90 minutes from Boston – all week, the C's brought him up for work with the big-league team.

But for Melo to grow into the player that his body and bounce hint he can be, he'll just need more work to get there.

He'll find that in Maine, and he'll get it against an increasingly talent-rich pool of big men. Already, Melo's taken on No. 4 Prospect Jarvis Varnado (Sioux Falls), Henry Sims and Keith Benson in Erie, Johnson in Fort Wayne and the tandem of Michael Eric and recent Cavs Call-Up Kevin Jones in Canton.

That CDR's Still in the League

Certain NBA Assignments, when they come to the NBA D-League, go feral.

Playing extended minutes for the first time in weeks, if not months, many end up posting some of the year's best stat lines in their debuts. Jeremy Lin did it last year, cranking out a triple-double for the Erie BayHawks two weeks before Linsanity broke out. Kent Bazemore did it this year, with 27 points, nine boards and five steals in his Santa Cruz debut; Terrence Jones went for 27 points and 16 in his first game with Rio Grande Valley.

And Chris Douglas-Roberts, in his first seven games in the NBA D-League, has already had a few lines on that level. In addition to a preseason game that saw him glide to 49 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, he also had a line of 27-8-7 on Dec. 1 and a game two nights prior that saw him go for 28 points, six boards, four assists, three steals and a 13-for-13 mark from the foul line.

Yet, he's still in the NBA D-League. And, sure, for all we know, he might be in talks at this moment with any number of teams, but, when the Legends next play, the standout performer in the NBA D-League will probably drop 30 for them.

But why not, say, eight to 10 for an NBA team? A couple potential reasons:
  • NBA teams rarely go looking for scorers in the NBA D-League. Kevin Jones and Jeff Adrien both rebounded their way to Call-Ups. James Anderson had a history with the Spurs. Daniel Orton had a special case with OKC.

  • CDR's team could be holding out for a better deal. With his NBA background, a non-guaranteed contract in a place that doesn't fit his needs – most importantly, to play – might not be enough.

  • Doubts stiil swirl about his demeanor. There's not a whole lot of doubt in any league about CDR's talent. It's just that, during his time in the Association, there was a perception that his attitude off the court un-did most of the good he did on it.

  • …Which sounds a whole lot like the knock against Gerald Green before he came back to the States, ripped up the NBA D-League, earned a Call-Up and then a multi-year deal. The lasting impression of Green's first run in the league still lingered so deeply that, when he joined the L.A. D-Fenders before Showcase last year, some talent evaluators said that they couldn't see him getting back into the NBA. But, after Green spent a month showing off some newly minted humility and touch from long range, those perceptions changed fast.


  • I Know You From Somewhere

    One of the NBA D-League's biggest strengths comes from its role, basically, as a prep year. Or three.

    For mid-major stars – like last year's NBA D-League Rookie of the Year Edwin Ubiles, out of Siena – or major-conference role players – like Lance Thomas, a fixture but not a phenom at Duke – the league gives players a chance to prove themselves in front of the NBA's decision-makers.

    Which is a long way of saying that, if you've lost track of a guy that carried your favorite team, made a big shot, blew up YouTube or burned up your bracket, there's a good chance you can find him in the NBA Development League.

    Be forewarned.

    Things are gonna get nostalgic.

    Best of the Weekend

    Top 10 Performances from the Weekend

    And for the very best from the NBA players down on assignment, CLICK HERE!

    Videos of the Week

    Whether it's Fab Melo's huge block -- followed by an even bigger staredown, as play goes the other way -- or some Globetrotters action in Rio Grande Valley, check out the year's first edition of the Top 5 Plays of the Week. And then check out the other three, too. They're worth it -- especially to watch Blake's brother Taylor scientifically prove that hops are hereditary.



    Christian Eyenga does some showing off.



    Jumping's just genetic in the Griffin family.