by Matthew Brennan
MAY 25: GATORADE Call-Ups: A LOOK BACK
This season, 20 different players earned 27 GATORADE Call-Ups to NBA rosters. Let's review the season of each player who got the call up to the next level.
Zabian Dowdell, Tulsa (Suns) - Dowdell, who played in training camp with the Suns, got the first call-up of the season in early January after averaging 14.5 points and 4.6 assists with the 66ers. Dowdell defied the odds and stuck with the Suns for the entire remainder of the season, appearing in 24 NBA games. The Virginia Tech product's best game of the year was a 14-point, five-assist outing against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 1.
Larry Owens, Tulsa (Spurs, Wizards) - Owens followed up on a solid debut year in Tulsa with a 2010-11 season that featured multiple call-ups to San Antonio and Washington. The 6-7 forward also earned an NBA D-League All-Star nod for the 66ers before finishing the year as a member of the Wizards. Overall Owens averaged 3.3 points in 12 games during his first NBA season.
Mustafa Shakur, Tulsa (Wizards) - One of the league's top point guards, Shakur was dealt to Rio Grande Valley in the preseason and averaged 16.7 points and 5.0 assists in 23 games before joining the Washington Wizards. Shakur went on to finish the year with Washington, averaging 2.3 points in 22 games.
Chris Johnson, Dakota (Trail Blazers, Celtics) - The NBA D-League's Defensive Player of the Year, the lanky center from LSU earned call-ups to both the Trail Blazers and the Celtics during a very successful debut campaign in the NBA D-League. In between his NBA time, Johnson averaged 16.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks for the Wizards after he was selected in the first round of the draft. After joining the Trail Blazers for the second time in March, Johnson went on to appear in four games during their playoff series against Dallas. He also posted a 13-rebound game in the regular season against Golden State on April 13.
Garrett Temple, Erie (Bucks, Bobcats) - Fresh off of three call-ups during the 2009-10 season, Temple returned to the NBA D-League and earned call-ups to Milwaukee and Charlotte after being traded to the Erie BayHawks. The former LSU star finished the year with the Bobcats, averaging 3.2 points in nine games. Temple posted a new career high with 17 points against Miami on April 8. After two years he's now appeared in a total of 51 NBA games with five different teams.
Trey Johnson, Bakersfield (Raptors, Lakers) - Johnson dominated the NBA D-League's scoring ranks in 2010-11, finishing way ahead of the competition with 25.5 points per game. The NBA took notice with call-ups to the Raptors and then during the NBA D-League postseason to the Lakers. He went on to appear in three playoff games for Los Angeles to finish the year.
Orien Greene, Utah (Nets) - Greene earned a call-up to the NBA in his second NBA D-League season, playing a ten-day contract with the Nets in February. Greene appeared in three games for New Jersey before returning to Utah. He was an NBA D-League All-Star in 2010-11, averaging 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.0 steals for the Flash in 39 games.
Steve Novak, Reno (Spurs) - Novak made a brief cameo in the NBA D-League, joining the Reno Bighorns and playing in only two games before a call-up to San Antonio, where he finished the season. The five-year NBA veteran averaged 18.5 points in his two games as a Bighorn.
Jeff Adrien, Rio Grande Valley (Warriors) - Adrien dominated the NBA D-League after entering the scene in December, and might have been the league's MVP if he was not called up by Golden State in late February. He averaged 18.2 points and 11.4 rebounds over 27 games between Erie and Rio Grande Valley, earning the NBA D-League's Impact Player award. He also played in a total of 22 games with the Warriors, with whom he started and finished the season.
Othyus Jeffers, Iowa (Spurs, Wizards) - One of the league's top guards over the past three seasons, Jeffers was an MVP-candidate for Iowa, averaging 21.1 points and 9.1 rebounds before late-season call-ups to San Antonio and Washington. Jeffers saw a lot of playing time in Washington to finish the season, posting 5.7 points in 16 games to finish what became his second season as an NBA player. He was named second team All-NBA D-League and also earned first-team All-Defensive honors.
Jerel McNeal, Rio Grande Valley (Hornets) - McNeal was one of the NBA D-League's top scorers in 2010-11, posting 20.6 points while leading the Vipers to the Finals. McNeal earned a call-up to the New Orleans Hornets in March, but did not see any game action.
Marcus Cousin, Austin (Jazz, Rockets) - Cousin emerged as a top center prospect in the NBA D-League in 2010-11, earning two call-ups from the Austin Toros. He signed with Houston very late in the season and was assigned to the Vipers for the playoffs, but was shut down by an injury as the Vipers advanced to the Finals. He appeared in three games earlier in the year for the Utah Jazz before returning to Austin, where he averaged 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds while earning second team All-NBA D-League honors.
Danny Green, Reno (Spurs) - Green was immediately traded from Sioux Falls to Reno upon joining the NBA D-League, where he posted big numbers before a call-up returned him to the Spurs fold. Green averaged 20.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in Reno before playing nine games for San Antonio, including action in the playoffs. He was also assigned to Austin for one game, scoring 19 points in their season finale.
Patrick Ewing Jr., Sioux Falls (Hornets) - Ewing had an excellent season in the NBA D-League split between the Reno Bighorns and Sioux Falls Skyforce. He was one of the league's top forwards with 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds before earning his first career call-up from the New Orleans Hornets. He appeared in nine games with the Hornets to close out 2010-11, his second pro campaign.
Kyle Weaver, Toros (Jazz) - Weaver got off to a hot start with Iowa, but was sidelined with an injury before a trade to Austin in March. He played in only nine games for the Toros before a call-up to the Utah Jazz. The former second-round pick averaged 5.6 in five NBA games in April to finish his third pro season. Overall he averaged 15.6 points in the NBA D-League in 2010-11, earning honorable mention All-League honors.
Mario West, Maine (Nets) - The NBA veteran guard earned a call-up from the Red Claws for the second straight year, signing with the New Jersey Nets to finish the season. West, who earned second team All-Defense honors in the NBA D-League, closed out the year by playing in six games for the Nets. He averaged 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds for Maine over 42 NBA D-League games.
Antonio Daniels, Texas (76ers) - One of the most NBA-experienced players to join an NBA D-League team, Daniels put together a solid season for the Texas Legends. It paid off with a late-season call-up to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he played in four games to close out the regular season. Daniels, who helped the Legends reach the playoffs in their first year, ranked second in the NBA D-League with 8.5 assists and was named third team All NBA D-League.
Robert Vaden, Tulsa (Thunder) - A first-round pick by Rio Grande Valley in the draft before being traded to Tulsa, Vaden spent the whole year as a 66er before the Thunder signed him to a call-up during the NBA D-League playoffs. Vaden was immediately assigned back to Tulsa until they were eliminated from the playoffs. He has been inactive for the Thunder during their playoff run after averaging 10.4 points for Tulsa in 2010-11.
Magnum Rolle, Maine (Hawks) - Rolle was taken third overall by Maine in the NBA D-League Draft, but an injury sidelined him until March. A healty Rolle went on to average 14.1 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Red Claws before he signed with the Hawks in April. Rolle did not see any action for Atlanta to close out his rookie season.
Marqus Blakely, Iowa (Rockets) - The explosive Blakely was traded from Bakersfield to Iowa in March and emerged as a top performer for the league's best team. Blakely was signed to the final call-up of the season when he joined the Rockets on the last day of the NBA's regular season. He was named second team All NBA D-League after averaging 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds as a rookie.