Top Storylines to Watch During Opening Weekend
The 2012-13 NBA D-League season brought us a record 184 NBA assignments -- including appearances by NBA first-round picks like Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Jones -- as well as 36 GATORADE Call-Ups and statement seasons from rising prospects like Glen Rice Jr., Jeremy Tyler, MVP Andrew Goudelock and many others. What does the league’s 13th season have in store? Here are the storylines that will highlight the opening weekend:
Live Streaming: For the second straight season, nearly every D-League game will be streamed live on the NBA D-League YouTube channel. That’s over 350 games, including seven on opening night and eight more over the weekend.
Hyped Debuts: In June, Grant Jerrett and Pierre Jackson heard their names called early in the second round of the NBA Draft. Five months later, they were both top five picks in the NBA D-League draft by the 66ers and Stampede, respectively. On Friday, they’ll each play in their first pro game -- Jerrett, the No. 1 pick, against ex-Miami Heat champion Jarvis Varnado and Jackson (No. 4) against the Jam in Idaho.
Changing of the Guard: Reno and Sioux Falls will each embark on new eras this weekend when Reno visits Sioux Falls on Friday and Saturday. Both teams entered into single-affiliation partnerships during the offseason -- Reno with the Kings, led by new general manager Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Sioux Falls with the Heat. Bighorns forward DeQuan Jones, who spent 2012-13 with the Magic, and explosive Skyforce guard Quincy Douby will be players to watch.
CDR Returns: Need I say more? Chris Douglas-Roberts dropped 49 points and eight assists in his Texas Legends debut last season and proved to be the best scorer in the league while with Texas. The former University of Memphis star will go head-to-head with two-time NBA D-League All-Star Ron Howard (career 16.8 ppg) as the Legends take on the Mad Ants twice.
Sevens Up: The Sixers-affiliated Delaware 87ers, who became the D-League’s 17th team in April, tip off their inaugural season against the Canton Charge, winners of the East Division in 2012-13. Under coach Rod Baker, the Sevens boast one of the most intriguing rosters in the league, featuring two former high school sensations in 5-foot-6 guard Aquille Carr and athletic big man Norvel Pelle, as well as top prospect Rodney Williams and Bucks rookie Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo’s brother, Thanasis.
Watching the Throne: The Rio Grande Valley Vipers’ title defense begins fittingly against the D-Fenders in Los Angeles on Saturday. Despite losing many key pieces from their 2012-13 championship squad, the Vipers should remain elite thanks to Rockets assignments Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington, plus second overall draft pick James Johnson.
Sunday Matinee: With newcomers Jeremy Tyler, C.J. Leslie, Ricky Davis and Chris Smith in the fold, the Erie BayHawks will present a major test for the Maine Red Claws’ big three of scoring forward Romero Osby and 2012-13 holdovers Jermaine Taylor and Chris Wright. The first afternoon game of the D-League season should be a good one.