Prospect Watch 2012-13: The First Big Board
The NBA D-League bills itself as the fastest way to the NBA. These are the 30 guys who should get there first.
1 JaJuan Johnson Fort Wayne Mad Ants Forward | 6-10, 220 | Drafted
No. 1 overall pick in 2012 NBA D-League Draft Live Via Cisco WebEx is just a year removed from outclassing Big Ten competition, but while he has a precious combo of size & quickness, needs to add strength and finesse to post game. May not be in RGV long.
2 Chris Douglas-Roberts Texas Legends Forward | 6-7, 210 | Affiliate Player
Swingman with 155 NBA games to his name showed glimpses of what he could become during 2009-10 season with Nets, going for 9.8 points and 3 boards in 25.8 minutes a night, but faltered with Milwaukee in 2010-11 and played abroad last year.
3 Andrew Goudelock Sioux Falls Skyforce Guard | 6-3, 200 | Drafted
The "Mini Mamba" -- a nickname given him by The Black Mamba himself when Goudelock was in L.A. -- didn't get a chance to play a ton with Lakers, but when he did, he showed same scoring touch he had when he was making Charleston a contender. NBA-level offensive weapon if he finds right fit.
4 Chris Wright Maine Red Claws Forward | 6-8, 225 | Returning
The hyper-athletic swingman played 24 games for the Warriors last year and earned an invite to Raptors training camp this fall. He can finish at the rim and shoot a little, but he'll get a Call-Up based on his ability to defend from the paint to the perimeter.
5 James Anderson Rio Grande Valley Vipers Guard | 6-6, 215 | Affiliate Player
The long (6-foot-6, 210-pound) shooting guard logged 77 games with the Spurs over the past two years. His main value now stems from his defense, but he's going in search of a jumper that abandoned him last year.
6 Shelvin Mack Maine Red Claws Guard | 6-3, 215 | Drafted
John Wall's backup in 2010-11 still needs to improve his capacity for creation -- like many guards in the NBA D-League, he's in the process of transitioning from 2-guard to point guard -- but his ability to put pressure on a defense should take him far.
7 Justin Harper Idaho Stampede Forward | 6-10, 225 | Drafted
High release coming off a 6-foot-10 frame and a tender shooting touch make him a tough matchup. Needs to pack on some bulk and strength, but he's already put on 20 pounds of muscle since coming to the NBA two years ago.
8 Christian Eyenga Texas Legends Forward | 6-7, 210 | Drafted
It's a daunting task to get by Eyenga, a 6-foot-7 frame on rocket-launcher legs, on the perimeter. Offensively, though, he's not there yet. The good thing for his Texas teammates, though, is that if they forget anything at the practice facility, they can be pretty confident that Eyenga will still be there late into the night, working on his 3-point game.
9 Kevin Jones Canton Charge Forward | 6-8, 250 | Affiliate Player
The Big EAST's leader in scoring (19.9 ppg) and rebounding (10.9 rpg) -- one of only three players to ever do that -- and Second Team All-American went undrafted because of his suspect size (he's listed at 6-foot-8), but you can expect some NBA D-League opponents to be the recipients of Jones' rage at being spurned.
10 Henry Sims Erie Bayhawks Center | 7-0, 240 | Affiliate Player
The 22-year-old 7-footer out of Georgetown can use offensive polish the way that Adam Sandler could use a decent role, but 7-feet is 7-feet, and he'll have the whole Knicks staff tuned in to his development.
11 Justin Dentmon Austin Toros Center | 6-0, 185 | Returning
The reigning league MVP shredded up the NBA D-League last year and led his team to the league title and finished Summer League strong for the Mavericks, but not until he spent two games getting shots blocked by taller, more agile competition. Dynamite playmaker, but needs to become 3-point threat to remain in NBA.
12 Mike Davis Sioux Falls Skyforce Forward | 6-9, 225 | Affiliate Player
Second all-time rebounding leader in Illinois hoops history is also crafty and deadly around the basket. Prone to lapses in focus in the past, but looking to put those fears to rest early.
13 Reeves Nelson Rio Grande Valley Vipers Forward | 6-8, 235 | Affiliate Player
Led UCLA in scoring and rebounding as sophomore in 2010-11, but was dismissed due to conduct detrimental to team during controversy-plagued junior season. Brought into Lakers camp, hung around until the end, but after he got cut the Rockets liked him so much that they signed up for a day, then waived him to keep him in the organization in RGV. Also, he's 21.
14 Michael Eric Erie Bayhawks Center | 6-11, 240 | Affiliate Player
The Nigerian-born 7-footer and dual-first-namer out of Temple averaged 9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 19 games as a senior, and earned comparisons to Serge Ibaka in his progression from Cavs coach Byron Scott. The Cavaliers signed him to a partially guaranteed deal over the summer, so, if he makes strides in Canton, Cleveland will most likely want to get some value on the investment.
15 Travis Leslie Santa Cruz Warriors Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
If you're drafting players for a highlight reel, Leslie's a lotto pick. Fast, dynamic and with more hops than a double-IPA, Leslie spent 2011-12 with the Clippers, but didn't show quite enough NBA-level acumen to crack into the lineup on the regular. Tools are there. They just need to be sharpened.
16 Darnell Jackson Reno Bighorns Forward | 6-9, 253 | Affiliate Player
Veteran of 138 NBA games (though just 7.5 mpg) played in Ukraine last year during lockout and came back to Kings camp 25 pounds lighter.
17 Brian Cusworth Maine Red Claws Center | 7-0, 255 | Affiliate Player
Lin's teammate at Harvard has gained about 50 pounds since his freshman year, filling out his 7-foot frame and enjoying so much success in Europe that he decided to come back and make a run at the league into which he was nearly drafted in 2007.
18 Wesley Witherspoon Austin Toros Forward | 6-9, 207 | Affiliate Player
Member of that freshman class at Memphis alongside Tyreke Evans, Witherspoon was once predicted as first-round pick in 2011 NBA Draft, but rough junior year kept him at Memphis; recovered efficiency as senior, then had impressive preseason with Spurs this October -- highlight was his 17-point, 6-for-9 (3-for-6 from behind arc), 4-rebound night in 28 minutes against Rockets.
19 Keith Benson Erie Bayhawks Forward | 6-11, 230 | Returning
After Hawks cut him last year (and Benson went out to smack around NBA D-League big men for a few months), Atlanta invited him back for Summer League and training camp. Benson still needs more consistency -- he dominated some action in Las Vegas, and vanished at other times -- but this small-school big man is clearly evolving against better competition.
20 Mychel Thompson Erie Bayhawks Forward | 6-7, 215 | Returning
Springy forward -- and brother of Klay -- made the Cavs to start the season last year, then got an invite to Knicks training camp, but looking to develop jumper to supplement defensive chops.
21 Jamario Moon Los Angeles D-Fenders Forward | 6-9, 207 | Affiliate Player
String of double-doubles, 48.5-percent clip from the field and improved defense earned him a quick Call-Up from the D-Fenders last year. But at 32, how many go-rounds does Moon have left?
22 Rick Jackson Santa Cruz Warriors Forward | 6-9, 240 | Affiliate Player
Bouncy athlete out of Cuse who shot better than 55 percent from the floor and pulled down 10.3 boards a game his senior year in 2010-11
23 Jorge Gutierrez Canton Charge Guard | 6-3, 195 | Drafted
The dreadlocked whirlwind out of Cal was the Pac-12 Player of the Year last year and wrapped up his time in Berkeley as a three-time Pac-12 All-Defensive First Teamer, in addition to being his team's heart and soul. Will need to improve as a point guard, but defensively, he's as crushing as an insult.
24 Oscar Bellfield Erie Bayhawks Guard | 6-2, 190 | Affiliate Player
The UNLV point guard became the all-time assists leader in WAC history his senior year, averaging 5.4 a game and putting up a 2.38 assist-to-turnover ratio.
25 Dominique Morrison Iowa Energy Guard | 6-6, 210 | Affiliate Player
Pure scorer who can do it both inside and outside; shot 48 percent from the field senior year at Oral Roberts, along with 42.3 percent from behind the arc.
26 Andy Rautins Tulsa 66res Guard | 6-4, 190 | Affiliate Player
Great distributor (4.9 assists per game) and shooter (40.7 percent from behind the arc) in final year at Syracuse. Didn't get much run with Knicks in 2010-11, then played in Spain during 2011-12.
27 JaMychal Green Austin Toros Guard | 6-9, 220 | Affiliate Player
Only other University of Alabama player to finish in school's top 15 in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks was Robert Horry. Spurs signed Green, then cut him in order to retain him as Affiliate Player and see how he performs in Austin using San Antonio's system.
28 Jarrid Famous Los Angeles D-Fenders Forward/Center | 6-11, 240 | Returning
When he's on, he's nearly unstoppable in NBA D-League action. When he's off, he looks like he sleep-walked into the gym. Famous vaulted up the Top Prospects list last year, then jetted overseas. But he's coming off a productive Summer League and training camp with Memphis. Will we see a focused Famous?
29 Ben Uzoh Springfield Armor Guard | 6-4, 195 | Returning
The Smash Williams doppelganger -- in face and frame -- comes back to the NBA D-League after having a good run in Vegas himself. Uzoh's defense belongs in the NBA, but his point guard skills still need some time to progress in the NBA D-League.
30 Stefhon Hannah Santa Cruz Warriors Guard | 6-1, 185 | Returning The reigning NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year has a severe height gap to overcome (though he's listed at 6-foot-1), but when he got time to perform with the Bucks in Summer League, he showed up. He also had one of the best stretches in NBA D-League history last year, burning up the league from mid-March to early April.
Thanks a lot for posting this; I have been trying to figure out the best way to follow NBDL prospects so this is clutch.
This is from yahoo. Dequan Jones's path to the NBA is remarkable considering his college career.
When DeQuan Jones finally got a moment alone after making the Orlando Magic's roster, he sat silently for a while in his rental car outside the team's practice facility, reflecting on his good news that defied NBA odds.
Here's how big of a long shot Jones was in making the team, let alone starting a game for the Magic: He wasn't invited to any predraft camps, wasn't listed in the league's media draft guide and worked out with only three teams. He was the seventh-leading scorer at the University of Miami last season as a senior, light credentials that led to a quiet evening at his parents' house last June, when he watched the NBA draft and didn't hear his name called.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say an ounce of doubt didn't creep in my mind," Jones said of his NBA dreams. "Nobody expected anything. It was more so a shot in the dark."
Jones got workouts with the Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. While working as a Pistons executive, Magic assistant general manager Scott Perry liked the athleticism he saw from Jones, a 6-foot-8 guard/forward. Perry soon added Jones to the Magic's summer league team, where he made a strong impression that landed him a training camp non-guaranteed invite.
Jones began believing he could make the Magic when he scored 22 points in a preseason game against the Pistons on Oct. 16. (His career-high at Miami was 16). He made a strong final impression in the preseason finale, scoring 16 against Houston.
The Magic had to make the tough decision of keeping either Jones, veteran swingman Quentin Richardson, who had two years and $4.5 million left on his contract, or young guard Justin Harper. On Oct. 27, the Magic gave Jones the nod.
"I just sat in the car for about 10 minutes and replayed everything that happened the last couple years of my life," Jones said. "I just wore a smile. I just can't stop smiling."
Two days later, the 22-year-old was apartment hunting in Orlando with a new salary of $473,604.
"He was smiling ear to ear when we told him," Magic GM Rob Hennigan said. "We told him it doesn't get easier from here, it gets harder. It speaks to the perception of timing. DeQuan put himself in this position because he was in shape, – his effort, his athleticism – and he made great plays."
Not bad for a player who had a lackluster college career that included a career-low two games started as a senior, and an average of 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game. His top highlight was perhaps competing in the slam dunk contest at the Final Four. His lowlight was serving an 11-game suspension as part of the investigation into former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, who said he gave a then-Miami assistant coach $10,000 to give to a member of Jones' family to aid his recruitment. Shapiro also said he believes Jones had no knowledge of the transaction.
Jones, who was later reinstated, denied receiving any money or ever meeting Shapiro. He said the "suspension wasn't justified" and believes the scandal hurt his standing in the NBA heading into the draft period.
"I looked back on that as a teaching point," Jones said. "It taught me how to deal with adversity and how to persevere. In the future adversity is guaranteed. But that moment taught me how to deal with it, how to stay positive, how to believe in myself and not give up."
Miami coach Jim Larranaga said Jones played sparingly during his college career because he made the mistake of "making a habit of trying a lot of different things" like shoot a "Kobe Bryant fade-away jumper." Once Jones focused on rebounding, Larranaga said, he was able to improve his game – and that makes him a "major success story."
Jones missed the Magic's season-opener because of a strained left groin. But with swingman Hedo Turkoglu out indefinitely with a broken hand, Jones started the next two games for Orlando at small forward. He had two points Sunday in his NBA debut against the Phoenix Suns as a starter, but described the moment as incredible.
Said Jones: "My hat goes off to the Orlando Magic organization for giving me an opportunity in summer league and training camp. They obviously saw the potential in me and took a chance."
I'm really rooting for my boy Rick Jackson to get a call up, he would make a decent enforcer type big man for soft teams, like Detroit.
I'm really surprised Wesley Witherspoon didn't stick with the Spurs he looked really good in their system. Also James Anderson has really fell from grace I thought he was a sleeper going into that draft, he was a decent athlete he could really catch and shoot effectively.
Justin Harper will be on a roster by the end of the year, he's really talented.
I've always been a huge Jajuan Johnson fan but this guy can't gain weight to save his life. He's a freak athlete with a nice jumper, and can block shots and rebound but he get's broken in half in the post.
Jorge Guttierez should be in the league based on his ability to defend.
Watching Jannero Pargo and AJ Price makes me miss Mack dearly...
AJ Price is better then Shelvin Mack which is the reason Mack no longer plays for the Wizards.
I understand AJ Price, he played well in the preseason, and deserves a spot on the team.
But JANNERO PARGO? Seriously? The man has bounced between Europe and the NBA for his entire career. Let's not forget that he's 32 to Mack's 22, and that Mack actually OUTPLAYED him in the preseason. I'm certain this is one of Ernie Grunfeld's "I'd rather be mediocre now rather than good later," moves. At least Mack has upside. You know what you're getting with Pargo.
JaJuan Johnson should be in the NBA, IMO. He's a pretty complete player, with decent size and athletic ability. He also played pretty well last year. He got a lot of garbage minutes, but he produced well when in the game.
He only aveaged 3 ppg because he picked up a lot of 2 or 3 minutes appearances, but in games where he played over just 10 mpg, he averaged 6.7 ppg. I caught him in a game against the Bulls, last year, when Bass was hurt and he dropped 12 points in a C's win. He won't start for anyone, but there are backup bigs in the league, right now, who aren't as talented as he, nor as young.