The NBA D-League Showcase presented by Samsung Galaxy is the league's premier event. It is the time of year where all 17 teams congregate to compete against each other while being put under the NBA microscope. Representatives from all 30 NBA teams should be in attendance and the Showcase has long been a Prospect's best opportunity to catch the eye of an NBA team.
Starting on Sunday, the NBA D-League will converge on Reno, Nev. for 17 games over the course of five days. In a week chock-full of hoops, here are the top storylines (in no particular order) to keep an eye on this year:
For aspiring NBA players in the NBA D-League, it doesn't get any better than the Showcase. Having decision-makers from all 30 NBA teams in the same gym is the perfect storm for getting noticed. And, as history would have it, the Showcase is a prime time for Call-Ups. In fact, during the eventís nine-year history, 40 NBA D-League players have earned GATORADE Call-Ups during or in the week following the NBA D-League Showcase.
A telling example of this from last season was Rio Grande Valley's Chris Johnson, currently our No. 23 Prospect. Johnson had been flying under the radar on a talented RGV team heading into the 2013 Showcase, but the sharpshooter shot well while in Reno and that intrigued the Memphis Grizzlies, who subsequently signed him to two 10-day contracts because they were looking to add a perimeter threat.
Also in Reno last year, NBA vet Mike James earned a Call-Up to the Dallas Mavericks, and he ended up playing 45 games for them last season.
The second day of the NBA D-League Showcase this year is an important day for all legitimate NBA Prospects because January 6 is the date in which NBA teams can start signing players to 10-day contracts. The freedom of the 10-day contract allows teams to get a closer look at a Prospect without necessarily making a long-term commitment. If teams like what they see, they can offer a second 10-day contract, after which the team will have the choice to either sign the player for the rest of the season or release him. In all, 26 of the 36 Call-Ups last season came during or after Showcase, many of which were originally 10-day Call-Ups.
In the week leading up to the Showcase, it should not come as a surprise that several marquee NBA players have been assigned to their NBA D-League affiliate, seemingly so that they can play in Reno. This will give the NBA teams an opportunity to see the players that they have under contract in person. This year, the big names include MarShon Brooks (Maine Red Claws/Boston Celtics), Rudy Gobert (Bakersfield Jam/Utah Jazz), Marquis Teague (Iowa Energy/Chicago Bulls) and Peyton Siva (Fort Wayne Mad Ants/Detroit Pistons). Last season, high-profile assignments like Houston's Terrance Jones and Oklahoma City's Jeremy Lamb played in Reno and they are now key contributors for their NBA teams. Check out all of the NBA assignments here
The NBA D-League, believe it or not, is not just about Prospects and assignments. In a growing trend in the league, more and more players that have yet to declare for the NBA Draft are using a season in the NBA D-League as a way to improve their NBA draft stock. Currently, there are two such players -- and they are both on Delaware. The duo consists of Greece's Thanasis Antetokounmpo, brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo who plays for Milwaukee and Norvel Pelle, once one of the top prep centers in the country. This duo is trying to follow in the footsteps of Glen Rice Jr. who parlayed a strong NBA D-League season into being a second-round draft pick last season. Fittingly, it was right around Showcase when Rice Jr. really started to blossom.
The NBA D-League is also a place for NBA veterans that are in the twilight of their careers to give it one more shot. Their experience is valued in NBA circles and if they can prove that they can turn back the clock on the court, they could be looking at a Call-Up. Several players fit that bill this year like Ricky Davis (Erie), Ike Diogu (Bakersfield), Josh Howard (Austin), Jamario Moon (Los Angeles) and Flip Murray (Austin). Diogu, Howard and Moon are ranked in the Prospect Watch at No. 12, No. 25 and No. 28 respectively while Davis and Murray are playing some of their best basketball of the year in recent weeks.
If you happen to be in Reno or watching from home, you may see some familiar faces. The NBA D-League is also a place for aspiring coaches to develop and several former NBA veterans are on NBA D-League coaching staffs. Throughout the week, you could see Anthony Carter (Assistant Coach, Austin Toros), Eduardo Najera (Head Coach, Texas Legends), Doug Overton (Head Coach, Springfield Armor), James Posey (Assistant Coach, Canton Charge), Sean Rooks (Assistant Coach, Sioux Falls Skyforce) and Luke Walton (Player Development, Los Angeles) on the sidelines.
The Showcase will also be the first opportunity for many scouts and GMs to see NBA D-League rookies. Highlighting this particular class of rookies is Idaho's Pierre Jackson and Tulsa's Grant Jerrett, both of whom were also selected in the second round of this year's NBA Draft. Both, however, never signed a contract with their NBA team (Jackson with New Orleans or Jerrett with Oklahoma City), so while they are in the NBA D-League, the NBA teams that drafted them still own their NBA rights, meaning New Orleans is the only NBA team that can sign Jackson and OKC is the only team that can sign Jerrett. Nevertheless, their explosive talent will be a sight to see.
The hallmark of NBADLeague.com is the Prospect Watch
and the top 30 Prospects will be updated daily during the Showcase. To see how Prospects are rising and falling throughout the week, look no further than NBADLeague.com.
2014 NBA D-League Showcase Schedule (all times local - PT)
Sunday, Jan. 5
|Delaware 87ers vs. Reno Bighorns|| 2:30 p.m.|
|Bakersfield Jam vs. Sioux Falls Skyforce|| 5:15 p.m.|
Monday, Jan. 6
|Idaho Stampede vs. Canton Charge|| 10:00 a.m.|
|Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Santa Cruz Warriors|| 12:45 p.m.|
|Austin Toros vs. Erie BayHawks|| 3:30 p.m.|
|Sioux Falls Skyforce vs. Los Angeles D-Fenders|| 6:30 p.m.|
Tuesday, Jan. 7
|Canton Charge vs. Texas Legends|| 10:00 a.m.|
|Iowa Energy vs. Bakersfield Jam|| 12:45 p.m.|
|Maine Red Claws vs. Austin Toros|| 3:30 p.m.|
|Los Angeles D-Fenders vs. Tulsa 66ers|| 7:00 p.m.|
Wednesday, Jan. 8
|Erie BayHawks vs. Idaho Stampede|| 10:00 a.m.|
|Rio Grande Valley Vipers vs. Maine Red Claws|| 12:45 p.m.|
|Tulsa 66ers vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants|| 3:30 p.m.|
|Reno Bighorns vs. Springfield Armor|| 7:00 p.m.|
Thursday, Jan. 9
|Texas Legends vs. Delaware 87ers|| 10:00 a.m.|
|Santa Cruz Warriors vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers|| 12:45 p.m.|
|Springfield Armor vs. Iowa Energy|| 3:30 p.m.|