I tried finding a picture of the Professor and Mary Ann from the Gilligan's Island credits to go with the headline, but Google Images has failed me. With apologies to all of these teams for not giving them individual treatment either through a story or fanshot, I just don't think I can finish covering all of the teams plus write about other stuff by tomorrow's draft. There's too many of them. So consider this a roundup of the notable (but not all) returning and allocated players that D-League teams will be enjoying, at least in the beginning of the season. Except for Maine, Dakota, Bakersfield and Fort Wayne. Oh, and I'm also not including Springfield, since their most notable players at this point are Marcus Taylor and Kentrell Gransberry, and we covered those guys around the expansion draft. All of the players listed fall into the "returning" category unless otherwise noted.
Even without those four teams this is pretty long (surprise! I wrote something that's too long), so you can read it all after the jump.
Albuquerque Thunderbirds - Antoine Agudio, Keith McLeod, Kevin Pittsnogle (allocation)
McLeod and Pittsnogle both are familiar names, though for different reasons. McLeod is a classic 'tweener, not in terms of position but in terms of NBA vs. the D-League. He's spent the first few years of his career in the NBA, including starting 79 games for the Utah Jazz over two seasons, but he spent last year in Albuquerque and also has played in Europe and the CBA. He also has a B.S. in computer science, so he's a smart guy, and given that he's 30 years old (or will be tomorrow - happy birthday Keith!) I wonder if he's not going to hang around for a few more years as an entry into coaching. Pittsnogle is more known for his college exploits though that was what, four years ago now? Since then he's played in the D-League (for Austin and Albuquerque), the CBA and in France. Last I heard he was coaching high school basketball and out of shape (due in part to a thyroid condition), so it will be interesting to see how he looks when the season starts. Agudio isn't that familiar of a name, but he's an excellent shooter (he made around 43 percent of his threes last year), and not much else.
So that's where Dwayne Jones went. I've talked about him on this site probably more than his talent warrants, because although he's a very good post defender and rebounder, there's not much else to his game at this point. Not that he hasn't been working hard on it, and his free-throw shooting improved steadily over the course of last season, but he's still pretty limited offensively. So's Johnson, for that matter, who can occasionally get hot shooting threes, but more often than not has 1-6 nights. Also, he may be one of the few people who has a great nickname but an even better real name. He almost never turns the ball over, though, which is typically what you want in a point guard (although he also doesn't pick up many assists, which is the other thing you want in a point guard). Jerrells will, I assume, take the backup PG spot now that Stanley Burrell is playing in Europe, but the distribution of minutes between him and Johnson will be something to watch as the season goes along. He was one of San Antonio's last preseason cuts, and in the limited action I saw he was decent, and the Spurs may want to get in enough work to improve his game. Of course, there's one guy missing from the list (I didn't exclude him, he's just not on the list), and that's Marcus Williams. My hope and assumption is that either the team didn't think he would be cut before it submitted its list, or they have to wait until they're at the top of the player pool before he joins the D-League. I suppose it's also possible that he's still exploring the overseas option, as he'd do great over there, but I hope not.
I've talked about Kurz a lot recently between Summer League and the preseason, but to review he's a 6'9" three-point shooter who doesn't offer much else. That also sounds a bit like Harris, doesn't it? Harris was second in three-point percentage among forwards last season and sixth overall in the league. Gunter was a backup to Erik Daniels last season, but with Daniels currently in the Ukraine, Gunter should take on a larger role. He's an athletic rebounder, but doesn't have great hands and hasn't shown much scoring ability thus far. Jackie Manuel, on the other hand, may have his role reduced a little bit with Kurz around. Manuel's a decent rebounder for a small forward, but doesn't have much of an outside shot. I'm not a huge fan of Lafayette, as he's not a very efficient scorer, but he put up a triple-double last year so there's that. This team made the playoffs last year, but they'll need to replace the production of Maureece Rice and Erik Daniels, who while inefficient still offered the team something as a point-center.
Idaho Stampede - Lanny Smith, Roberto Bergerson
Both of these guys should do well in Bob MacKinnon's offense, though Smith probably needs to up his three-point shooting percentages a bit. He's not really a shooter, more of a distributor/defender, but Colorado's point guards spent a decent amount of time playing off the ball last year. Bergerson could be a bench version of Billy Thomas, in that he's a streak-shooting veteran. He made around 70 percent of his threes last April, though that was far above his season average.
I don't expect Tolliver to be in Iowa for very long, as he's had some NBA looks recently, and it talented enough to make all of his shots in a Summer League game. Expect him to be an early scoring leader, though. Stinson is a solid all-around point guard and a good rebounder for his position, though turnovers were a big problem for him during Summer League. He was invited to the Bulls' training camp but only spent a few days there before being waived, so he didn't really get a chance to show NBA teams that he's not as turnover-prone as he seemed in Vegas (he's not). Jeff Trepagnier and Mark Tyndale are also here, but I didn't really feel like talking about them, which should be understandable.
Until given a reason to do otherwise, this season I'm going to stop pretending that this team is directly affiliated with the Lakers, because other than the uniforms you really wouldn't know it based on how the Lakers participate in the relationship. Crawford's a case in point, in that he could've been the Laker's future backup PG, except they sent him down to the D-Fenders and then forgot about him. It's true that the Shannon Brown (which is how everyone needs to start referring to the Adam Morrison deal) has worked out reasonably well, but they didn't even consider the in-house option. Crawford spent a few games with the Knicks last year, where he didn't shoot the ball particularly well before being released. Forehan-Kelly is a pretty good all-around player who's not great at any one particular thing but good at many things (actually, he's very good at shooting threes). "I can't be out of Earl, I'm the" Earl Barron has spent some time in the NBA, and is an okay rebounder and shotblocker, but he was injured for part of last season and will need to show this year that he's recovered. Longar Longar has had his moments, though I'm generally not a huge fan of slow guys with bad hands. Pruitt is an okay shooter, making 36 percent of his threes last year in the D-League, and he doesn't pick up that many turnovers. Don't be surprised to see him and Crawford playing a lot of minutes alongside each other. No Sun Yue either. WHERE IS MY SUN YUE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
I need to Basically this team is returning a lot of players from what was an abysmal squad last year. The individual talent is there, as Clinkscales is a solid point guard and Looby started growing into a dominating force in the paint, so perhaps new coach Chris Finch can pull it all together. He's said that he prefers an up-tempo, three-point shooting style of play. Marcus Hubbard is probably salivating at that prospect, as he fancies himself a three-point shooter, even though he's not very good at it. Neither are any of the other guys I listed, come to think of it, except maybe Sensley. They all can handle the up-tempo bit, though. This should be an interesting personnel-coach match to watch. I'd also expect to see at least one player assigned from Houston this year, although Chase Budinger has looked better than I expected coming off their bench.
Both Benson and Robinson should - repeat, should - get NBA looks at some point this season. The return of boom tho can only mean good things, both on the court and off. He's a very good rebounder and shotblocker, very athletic, and has been working on his shot. If NBA teams lighten up a little bit, he's one of the best big men in the league. Robinson performed well running Orlando's offense during Summer League but was a little shakier playing for Cleveland this preseason. He's a pretty good scorer and distributor, and could see some continued NBA attention. Noel's a solid all-around wing player who can defend, score, shoot threes and distribute the ball a little. Dorsey is a pretty decent PG who's very quick and is does a good job of getting to the basket. This is a pretty good core.
Sioux Falls Skyforce - Keith Brumbaugh, David Bailey, Greg Stiemsma, Joe Krabbenhoft (allocation)
Krabbenhoft's already been covered, so moving on. Bailey's a relatively efficient scorer and good three-point shooter, and he does a decent job of distributing the ball. He also gets a fair amount of rebounds for his position/size. Brumbaugh is also a pretty efficient scorer (moreso than Bailey) and shoots well from the outside. He's 6'10 but doesn't play inside much, and he also can run into foul problems. Stiemsma was actually drafted by a Korean team, but that appears not to have worked out. His per-minute numbers were decent last year, but he averaged only 14 minutes a game. So the real production wasn't what it probably could have been. This team might struggle early on to replace some of Kasib Powell's points and rebounds.
Clark was draft-eligible after last season, except he didn't really play well enough for anyone to draft him. He's talented, certainly, but at some point he got it into his head that he could make three-pointers, when he really can't. He's a decent rebounder and can score a little bit, but he's not very efficient, and watching him last year one got the impression that he was still relying on his athleticism rather than using any kind of technique or putting up smart shots. Ehambe, on the other hand, can make three-pointers, 41.5 percent of them last season, in fact. That's really the extent of his game, as he shot worse on two-pointers than he did threes, and he didn't provide a ton in the way of rebounds, assists or steals. Hill averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes last season before running into some injury problems. He's from Branson, Mo., so expect a lot of Branson, Mo., jokes this season. Larry Owens has spent the bulk of his career thus far in Europe, but got some looks from New Orleans in Summer League and the preseason, He's a power forward who shoots a lot of threes but doesn't rebound much. Sometimes his threes go in, and sometimes they don't, as in last year's EuroChallenge when he shot 18-110 from behind the arc. I know I've referenced that stat before, but it's pretty amazing to look it. Although if you spend too much time staring at it you'll probably turn into stone.
Last team, I promise. This team returns a lot players, and given that they made the D-League Finals we should probably expect them to do well early on. Especially since Jefferson is back. I really have no idea why the Bobcats cut him, since he's a lockdown defender, has proven he can score in the D-League, and Charlotte is pretty terrible. But whatever, I'm sure GM (or whatever his title is) Michael Jordan knows what he's doing. If you're interested in learning more about Dontell Jefferson, why not read this interview? Picking up Luke Nevill was a decent move, as he can probably challenge Lang for whatever spot in the rotation Lang has. Ingram's a pretty good three-point shooter, as is former BYU guard Lee Cummard. Cummard's also a decent rebounder for a shooting guard. Bennet Davis can block shots and be athletic but not much else, but it'll be interesting to see if he brought anything back with him from the Nets' training camp.