A Good Week to be Devin Ebanks
By: Bobby Karalla --- @BobbyKaralla
It’s a good week to be Devin Ebanks.
First, the Legends forward scored 43 points and pulled down 14 rebounds on Dec. 13 in a 125-116 win against the then-undefeated Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Ebanks also hit a game-winning runner against the Springfield Armor on Wednesday, improving his team to 7-2, this after finishing an and-one breakaway layup with 30 seconds remaining to give his team its first lead in more than 12 minutes. Ebanks scored 32 points on the night. He always makes it look so easy.
“I just had a lot of confidence during the game. My shot was falling,” he said after Wednesday’s game. “So I just wanted to drag it out a little bit – waste some time – and I got a good shot up.”
Ebanks’ production could not have at a better time for the Legends, as forward Chris Douglas-Roberts signed with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats last week. Ebanks said he and others would have to fill the scoring void left by Douglas-Roberts’ departure.
“I knew I was gonna have to step up. CDR’s 18, 20 points – that’s what we lost, so I had to step up,” he said. “And my teammates are doing a good job of stepping up – players that hadn’t played – and they’re playing now and getting a rhythm.”
He certainly has stepped up. In the three games since Douglas-Roberts signed with Charlotte, Ebanks is averaging 30.3 points on 55.2% shooting from the field, including 42.3% from beyond the 3-point line. He’s also grabbing 10 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. He averages 22.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 35.5 minutes on the season, all of which are team-highs, and his per-game plus-minus rate of 5.4 also leads the team. For a player who appears mostly quiet and level-headed during games – occasionally he’ll chatter with teammates during a defensive possession – Ebanks seems to let his game do the talking.
It’s not that the former Los Angeles Laker is only now receiving plenty of looks on offense. But while Douglas-Roberts was still with the team, Ebanks would have the ball in his hands less often. However, the crunch-time looks have gone Ebanks’ way, especially against Springfield on Wednesday, a game in which the Legends trailed for the entire fourth quarter until the final 30 seconds.
“I think so far, we’ve gutted out a lot of our wins,” he said. “It’s familiar grounds for us. We had a couple big stops, and got some good shots. It’s a good win for us.”
Ebanks’ recent efficiency could also be one end product of an increasingly cohesive offensive unit. The Legends’ roster is significantly different from last year’s squad, and there were definitely growing pains. However, things are beginning to come together for the team.
Only two clubs in the D-League turn the ball over less per game than the Legends – Springfield is one of them, but Texas was able to force the Armor into committing 22 turnovers. The Legends also shot 6-of-9 from the field in the final five minutes in the win against Springfield, including hitting all three of their field goal attempts in the final minutes, perhaps an indication that the team is growing more comfortable together.
“Our chemistry is building every game,” Ebanks said. “Like I said, tough games down the stretch are making us tighter as a group.”
With timely contributions from teammates and excellent offensive efficiency from the team’s star, Ebanks and the Legends have won four games in a row. The team will now play six straight on the road before heading to Reno for the D-League Showcase, where the Legends will play on Jan. 7 and 9. It seems like an opportunity for Ebanks to impress scouts and GMs from around the NBA with his smooth game, but a lot can happen between now and then. Asked what he needs to do to stand out at what many consider the most important week in the D-League season, Ebanks said he is only concerned with playing as well as he can with his surging team.
“Just keep doing the same thing…,” he said. “Keep playing hard, keep my confidence up.” He makes it sound so easy.