The NBA’s Top Ten D-League Call-Ups
by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com
63 different players have received GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA since the D-League began in 2001. Here is a look at eleven of those players who have established themselves as NBA contributors after spending time in the D-League.
Chuck Hayes - Hayes was only in the D-League for a few months in his first season of professional basketball before he earned a Call-Up to the Houston Rockets in January of 2006. The Kentucky product has been a valuable role player for the Rockets ever since, averaging 5.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 78 games during the 2006-07 season.
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Ime Udoka - A true basketball journeyman, Udoka spent three different seasons in the D-League, and earned GATORADE Call-Ups to the Lakers in 2004 and the Knicks in 2006. He caught on with the Portland Trail Blazers prior to this season and earned a roster spot in training camp, going on to start 75 games for Portland. Udoka, who won the D-League's Sportsmanship Award in 2005-06, averaged 8.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in his first full NBA season.
Smush Parker - Parker, who has been the starting point guard for the Lakers over the past two seasons, spent the 2004-05 season in the D-League with the Florida Flame. The Fordham product turned in a dominating performance, averaging 19.9 points and 9.1 assists in 23 games while receiving a GATORADE Call-Up to the Phoenix Suns. Parker played his way onto the Lakers roster next season and has been a mainstay of their rotation ever since.
Matt Carroll - Carroll played with Roanoke in the D-League for two seasons, and was named the league's MVP in 2004-05 after averaging 20.1 points in 24 games. Carroll got the GATORADE Call-Up for the Bobcats in February of 2005 and has developed into a big part of the Charlotte rotation, averaging 12.1 points during the 2006-07 season. He scored an NBA career-high 27 points on two different occasions this season.
Mikki Moore- One of the Nets most popular players, Moore spent parts of two seasons in the D-League with Roanoke, averaging 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds between 2002 and 2004. Moore received GATORADE Call-Ups from the Nets and the Jazz during his stint in the D-League, and made his way back into the NBA for good for the 2004-05 season. This past season with the Nets, Moore posted career highs in scoring (9.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.1 rpg) and led the NBA with a .609 field goal percentage.
Bobby Simmons - Simmons is the first former D-League to win an NBA award, taking home the NBA Most Improved Player honor in 2005. After two seasons with the Wizards, Simmons landed with Mobile in the D-League during the 2002-03 season. After averaging 17.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in 14 games with Mobile, Simmons returned to Washington via a GATORADE Call-Up. He went on to sign with the Clippers and turned in a career season in 2004-05, averaging 16.4 points to earn the Most Improved Player award.
Rafer Alston - The eight-year NBA veteran and New York playground legend played in a short but productive stint with Mobile in the D-League during the 2002-03 season. Alston averaged 15.8 points and 9.7 assists in 6 games before he received a GATORADE Call-Up to the Toronto Raptors. Alston has been in the NBA ever since, spending the past two seasons manning the point guard spot for the Rockets.
Anthony Johnson - A veteran point guard who has played in 613 NBA games over ten seasons, spent part of the 2001-02 season with Mobile in the D-League. Johnson averaged 11.9 points and 2.9 assists before signing with the Nets via a GATORADE Call-Up. Johnson spent the next two seasons with New Jersey before moving on to the Pacers, Mavericks, and Hawks, where he finished the 2006-07 season.
Jason Hart - Hart, who played in the D-League's inaugural season in 2001-02, averaged 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds with Asheville before signing with the Spurs and completing the rest of the season in the NBA. Hart has gone on to play with the Kings and the Bobcats before finishing this season with the Clippers. He has played in 240 NBA games, including 54 starts, over six seasons.
Bonus Number 11
Devin Brown - Brown is the only player on this list to win an NBA title, earning a ring with the Spurs in 2005. Before San Antonio, Brown played 44 games with Fayetteville in the D-League in 2002-03, averaging 16.9 points and earning first-team All-D-League honors. Brown received a GATORADE Call-Up to the Nuggets that year, before spending the next two seasons with the Spurs before moving on to the Jazz and the Hornet. Brown enjoyed a career season with New Orleans in 2006-07, averaging a career-high 11.6 points and 4.3 rebounds while starting 49 games.