by Matthew Brennan, NBA D-League.com
On Saturday night, the Bakersfield Jam will visit the Idaho Stampede on VERSUS, with the action starting at 11 p.m. ET. If you are wondering why you should check out this week's NBA D-League game, here are five good reasons why you should tune in to VERSUS to see some of the NBA D-League's most intriguing prospects in HD.
1. Lighting Up The Scoreboard
Do you like to see lots of fast breaks and lots of scoring in a basketball game? Than Saturday's contest will be right up your alley. The Idaho Stampede lead the league in nearly every offensive catergory behind head coach Bob MacKinnon's fast-paces offensive system. They lead the pack of all teams with 110.9 points per game, 40.5 field-goals per game, 9.9 three-pointers per game, and 47.4 rebounds per game. Last season MacKinnon's system worked wonder as he led the Colorado 14ers to an NBA D-League title. So far in Idaho, two of his players (Sundiata Gaines and Anthony Tolliver) have already received GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA. The Jam are one of the lower scoring teams in the league, but Saturday can see their offense take a step up since Idaho also gives up a league-high 108.4 points per game.
2. The Return Of Blake Ahearn
Bakersfield's Blake Ahearn has had one of the most intriguing career paths of any player in the NBA D-League. A relativley unheralded draft pick by Dakota in 2007-08, Ahearn was a reserve player for half of the season before a player defection placed him in the starting lineup. A few months of excellent play later, and Ahearn was accepting the NBA D-League Rookie of the Year Award as a member of the Miami Heat. Ahearn returned to the NBA D-League last season and added to his trophy case by earning Co-MVP honors at the All-Star Game. Now in Bakersfield after starting the 2009-10 season in Spain, Ahearn is adjusting to new NBA D-League surroundings while he chases another call-up to the NBA. He is currently off to a slow start with 12.5 points and only .322 shooting, but a fast-paced game against Idaho could get him back into the groove.
3. The Local Star Returns Home
Coby Karl has returned to Idaho after being wavied by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he has quickly established himself as one of the league's top guards. A college star just a few miles from Qwest Arena at Boise State, Karl has been a familiar face in the NBA D-League over the past few seasons. He was assigned to the D-Fenders as a Los Angeles Laker in 2007-08, and then started last season with the Stampede before heading to Spain, where he was a teammate of Ricky Rubio. Now looking for an NBA return after parting ways with the Cavaliers, Karl has posted 27.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his first five contests with the Stampede. Saturday's game will be a great opportunity to see one of the most talented guards in the NBA D-League in action.
4. New Faces In Bakersfield
The Bakersfield Jam's lineup has been a revolving door this season with a host of players suiting up for the Jam as first-year head coach Will Voigt looks for the right combination. Two new acquisitions who will be in action on VERSUS Saturday are Keith Brumbaugh and John Edwards. Brumbaugh, acquired in a trade with Sioux Falls earlier this week, is a talented 6-10 forward with perimeter skills who was a top-20 recruit nationally in high school. He was in training camp with the Denver Nuggets prior to this season, where he is averaging 15.9 points per game. He will make his Jam debut on Friday. Edwards is a 7-0 center with NBA experiences, playing in 40 games for the Atlanta Hawks in 2005-06. Over the past few years he has shuttled between the NBA D-League and overseas.
5. Protecting The Fort
Qwest Arena, located in downtown Boise, has traditionally been one of the toughest places for opponents to win games in the NBA D-League. In their first three seasons since joining the league, the Stampede racked up a home record of 57-18 while clinching the 2007-08 NBA D-League title on their home floor. This season, things have been different as the Stampede have already dropped six games at Qwest Arena, including an 18-point loss to Maine on Wednesday night. Winning more games at home will be key if the Stampede want to get back into the Western Conference race, and that makes a game against Bakersfield (3-11 in away games) as much of a must-win as a game in January can be.