D-League Week Ahead: November 6, 2006
D-League Training Camp Rosters, Returning Players Announced
The D-League training camp rosters were released after Thursday's draft, and many of last year's impact players have returned to the D-League for another season. They will join the players selected in the D-League Draft, as well as allocated players and players from tryouts, in D-League training camps. Rosters must be cut to 12 by next Wednesday, November 14, which is the last day before the start of the D-League preseason. The final ten man rosters must be set by November 21, two days before the start of the season. Here are a few returning players to watch for the 2007-08 D-League season, including two First Team All-D-League performers.
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Randy Livingston, Idaho Stampede
The 2006-07 D-League MVP returns to Idaho after finishing out last season with the Seattle Supersonics. Last season, Livingston helped lead Idaho to a tie for the league's best record and also ranked among the league's leaders in assists with 10.6 per game. He will once again provide veteran leadership and act as a coach on the floor for the Stampede, although he should be a likely candidate for a GATORADE Call-Up from NBA teams looking for point guard help.
Elton Brown, Colorado 14ers
Brown was a first team All-D-League performer last season and a lineup mainstay for the 14ers, averaging 18.4 points and 9.6 rebounds as they advanced to the D-League title game. The 6-9 forward returns to Colorado after spending time in preseason with the Los Angeles Lakers. The first overall pick in last season's Expansion Draft, Brown is also a likely GATORADE Call-Up candidate in his third D-League season.
Brian Chase, Los Angeles D-Fenders
Chase was one of the D-League's top scoring guards last season, joining the D-Fenders in December after he was waived by the Utah Jazz. A member of the D-League All-Star team who averaged 16.2 points last season, Chase will return to STAPLES Center after opening some eyes during his stint with the Miami Heat during the preseason. The Virginia Tech product should team with fellow Heat preseason teammate Devin Green to form one of the D-League's most high-powered scoring duos.
Kevin Lyde, Dakota Wizards
Lyde was one of the last cuts by the Utah Jazz in training camp, capping off an eventful offseason where he traveled to China as part of the D-League Ambassadors team. Lyde is a low post presence who played a big part in the Wizards 2006-07 championship season and will patrol the paint once again at 6-10, 250 lbs. Other returning members of the Wizards who were in NBA training camps this season include Rod Benson and Dontell Jefferson. Point guard Maurice Baker will also return to Bismarck as the Wizards gear up for another title run under new coach Duane Ticknor.
Jeremy Richardson, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Richardson came up just short of making the Miami Heat roster in October and will head to Fort Wayne as the second overall selection in September's D-League Expansion Draft. Richardson was an All-D-League Second Team performer for the new defunct Fort Worth Flyers last season, earning GATORADE Call-Ups to the Hawks and Trail Blazers while averaging 17.4 points per contest. The former Delta State star should be the go-to offensive weapon for the Mad Ants and rank among the D-League's top scorers if the NBA doesn't come calling.
Mike Hall, Tulsa 66ers
Hall will return to the Tulsa 66ers after being waived by the Washington Wizards, who made him a GATORADE Call-Up midway through last season. Hall will be returning to a new look Tulsa team that will be withouth the services of Will Conroy and Desmon Farmer for the first time. Expect Hall and first round pick Glen McGowan to form a potent duo at forward for Joey Meyer's squad.
Former D-Leaguer To Watch
The first GATORADE Call-Up of the 2006-07 season, Azubuike is off to a spectacular start to the NBA season with the Golden State Warriors. Azubuike is averaging 20.3 points per game over the first three games of the season as a member of the Warriors' starting lineup. The highlight of his season came on Friday night, when Azubuike posted a career-high 33 points on 12-17 shooting in a loss to the Clippers. The third-year pro is also averaging shooting .647 (22-34) from the field, .500 (5-10) on three-pointers, and averaging 3.7 rebounds in his first full NBA season. Undrafted out of Kentucky, Azubuike played for Fort Worth in the D-League for two seasons before signing with the Warriors last January. He was leading the D-League in scoring at the time of his call-up.
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Games To Watch
We are still a few weeks away from the start of the 2007-08 season, but with the NBA season off and running, there are plenty of former D-League players who will be in action. Here are a few games of interest during the first week of the season that prominently feature former D-League players or coaches.
Thursday: Dallas at Golden State
Azubuike and the Warriors will meet the Mavericks at Oracle Arena on TNT. In the season's early going, the Mavericks have been sparked by the play of former D-League assignee Jose Barea. Barea has moved into the starting lineup due to an injury to Devin Harris, and he responed with a career-high 25 points on Saturday in a blowout win over the Sacramento Kings.
Barea is averaging 10.8 points and 1.8 assists over the first four games of the season. He scored 14 points in only nine minutes against Atlanta on Friday before his breakout game and first career start against the Kings. Harris may be back by Thursday, but it appears that Barea has earned himself some playing time for Dallas as the season continues. Check him out against Azubuike and the Warriors on Thursday, who also feature former D-League player Matt Barnes in their rotation.
Friday: Milwaukee at Houston
The Rockets are currently featuring two former D-League players in their starting lineup, with Rafer Alston at point guard and Chuck Hayes starting all three games at power forward. Hayes is second on the team to Yao Ming with 9.0 rebounds per game, while Alston leads the team with 5.0 assists. Houston, who is off to a 3-0 start to the season, will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. Former D-League star Bobby Simmons is averaging 8.3 points for the Bucks after missing the entire 2006-07 NBA season due to an injury.