D-League Call-Up Rankings - Hey Potential, Meet Reality!

Marcus Williams

We've done different versions of this over the past few weeks between my Prospect/Quick Fix list and Jon's playoff hopefuls (East and West).  This morning though, I figured we'll go back to the list.  It's pretty tough to do this list, as there are about six myself and Jon both agreed on and the rest were up in the air, so have mercy - not even Jon's going to agree with this.

1. Marcus Williams, Austin - Williams is the consensus for us as the player most deserving of a call-up.  In the month of March, Williams averaged something ridiculous - 25.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, shooting 92% from the free-throw line along with showing improved range, hitting 36% from beyond the arc.  He's also extremely long and handles the rock quite a bit for the Toros.  Williams has had a little trouble adjusting to the recent additions of DeMarcus Nelson and Malik Hairston, but lines like his last game - 11-of-20 from the field for 29 points, including 3-4 on his threes, six rebounds and four assists are becoming the norm for him.

2. Josh Davis, Colorado - I sing his praises more than what is healthy, but I won't stop until he gets a look, so somebody better get on this guy pretty soon, as I'm running out of things to tell you that I haven't already.  Davis is a player you need to see in person.  Davis is a hard worker, got a sweet stroke, is too quick to guard in the post, but too much of a shooter to leave him alone on the perimeter, and as long as he's on the court, you can tell he's working his butt off.  Love his game, as he's a tweener, but definitely serviceable as either a small forward or pick-and-pop power forward.  In his 13 games in March, Davis' rebounding numbers dropped just a bit, but his percentages went through the roof.  Davis averaged 19.6 points and 6.9 boards (in 32 minutes), but shot an incredible 47% from beyond the arc, along with a very efficient 52% from the field.  As the glue guy to what I consider the best team in the D-League, he might get my MVP vote.

3. Blake Ahearn, Dakota - This might come off as a homer pick (Ahearn is a longtime favorite of mine), but Dakota wouldn't be the same team without him and every team could use a shooter with as sweet of stroke as Blake's.  Ahearn is known for two things: His quirkiness and his shooting ability.  While it'd be nice for him to round out his game and become more of a point guard, he's shown this season that he can somehow get to the basket, which is just as valuable for him as his point guard abilities.  He's been to the line 261 times this season, making 248 freebies (95%).  Along with the free-throw shooting, he stepped up his 3-point shooting in March, hitting 46% from beyond the arc.  On the season, he's also averaging 22.6 points and 5.3 assists per game.

4. Othyus Jeffers, Iowa - I love watching good defense in the D-League, and Jeffers is, in my eyes, the premiere defender in the D-League (second: Brent Petway, Idaho).  He is also a prolific scorer (inside the 3-point line) and rebounds at least as well as any 6'5" swingman that's ever come through the D-League.  You want numbers?  I'll give you numbers.  The rookie and reigning NAIA player of the year played 11 games in March, averaging 22.2 points and 9.6 rebounds, showing a variety of ways to score while shooting 49% from the floor.  The only flaw in his game is his shooting from beyond the arc, as he's just 7-of-25 from deep.

5. David Noel, Reno - Noel's been in the D-League all season, but this is really the first time I've focused on him - don't worry, his quick rise is warranted.  Noel started with Albuquerque, was traded to Reno, and boom tho, he's dominating.  I'm not sure what's in the water in Reno, but if you want to revive your D-League season, ask for a trade to Reno.  In Noel's last two games, h'es averaged 20.5 points, 12 boards and 9.5 assists - Ridiculous.  In March the former 2nd round pick of the Bucks averaged 20.6 points, 6.7 assists and 6.5 boards, shooting 55% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc.  He's ready.

6. Jawad Williams, Rio Grande Valley - Williams is a 6'9" combo-forward that can score.  He's not going to contribute much else to your team, but he will contribute points.  Lots and lots, from all over the court.  Since coming to the D-League after a couple of stints with the Cleveland Cav's, Williams is tearing the league up.  Williams is averaging 25.5 points and shooting 45% from beyond the arc.

7. Dwayne Jones, Austin - He's already played six games in the NBA with the Bobcats to start the season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't get a couple more under his belt before the season is over.  He's got an NBA body and NBA experience, two of the qualities that a league called the NBA should be looking to pick up during the season.  Jones has had a double-double in all but two of his games in March.  Averaging 15.7 points and 13 boards on 60% shooting.  His best game of the season came on March 13, when he shot 14-18 for 33 points and 23 rebounds with three steals and a block.  Jones also leads all centers in rebounds per 48 minutes.  The downside is that he occasionally turns the ball over too much along with a tendency to get frustrated when things aren't going well.

8. Chris Hunter, Fort Wayne - He's kind of the yin to Jones' yang, as both are great big men, just differ in the way they went about getting those titles.  With Jones, his defense and rebounding would be the reason for a call-up.  For Hunter, it's going to be his offense.  He's polished in the low post and has shown a serviceable jumper when it's called upon.  While he's not a bad rebounder (9.1 per game), his 20.9 points and 87% shooting from the charity stripe are what's going to catch the attention of the scouts.

9. Walker Russell, Fort Wayne - Personally, I'm not as sold on him, but Jon has him ranked much higher than myself.  He's younger than who I would have put here (Eddie Gill, maybe even Mateen Cleaves) and is excellent at penetrating and dishing along with running the fast break, averaging 10.9 assists per game.  The thing I'm not sold on is his scoring.  Even though he's averaging 16.3 points this season, he's shooting just 43% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc.  Those numbers aren't going to help his chances.

10a. Rod Benson, Reno - I know, he blogs, he'll never get called-up, he's too entertaining and real!  Well, sorry, I'm including him.  Boom Tho himself had a very impressive March despite being traded and starting only half of his 12 games.  We've talked about him at length this month, so I'm just going to give you the numbers he ended up with while averaging 31 minutes per game: 15.7 points, 9.2 boards, and 2.7 blocks.  Boom tho, indeed.

10b. Dominique Coleman, Colorado - I should have let Jon write this, as I'm not sold on him, but he forgot about him when he sent me his original rankings!  Regardless, I'll give it a shot.  Coleman is extremely efficient and on the season, he's averaging 15.7 points, 7.9 boards and 4.8 assists and 2.8 steals, shooting 51% from the floor and 42% from beyond the arc.  The negatives are that he's a 6'3" 2-guard shooting 69% from the free-throw line and his numbers across the board fell dramatically during March.  I'm probably late to the game as he belonged here last month.  This month, I'm not as sure.

Honorable mention: Trey Johnson, Bakersfield (3 point %'s, assists dropped big in March); Derrick Byars, Bakersfield (bad shooting month for Bakersfield, apparently); Kurt Looby, RGV (Rookie has been very impressive on defense and the boards); Richard Hendrix, Dakota (plagued by foul trouble and I'm questioning his motor); John Lucas, Colorado (bit on the small side, but he can run an NBA team); Eddie Gill, Colorado AND Mateen Cleaves, Bakersfield (Decided to promote the upside RU is known for).

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