How NBA 2K10 Taught Me Why Some NBA General Managers Overlook The D-League

When I wasn't watching college basketball this weekend, I was blogging dusting off the Playstation 3 and plying my trade as an NBA general manager with NBA 2k10.

I had it all set up perfectly:

  • Team: Memphis Grizzlies
  • Reasoning: no long term deals so I can rebuild how I want to rebound, but they're serviceable enough for the short haul ... Zach Randolph is easily traded because I like to pretend he's still bad Zach Randolph and not reinvented Zach Randolph ... I can assign Hasheem Thabeet to the D-League and imagine someone inventing Hasheem ThaBlog in PS3 land.
  • Game Plan: Just win baby.  Also, re-build around the nucleus and fill the rest up with relevant D-League players and other guys I like around the NBA instead of Mike Conley.
  • Bonus: If I'm bad, it's understandable - the Grizzlies were supposed to be bad this season ... plus I haven't turned my PS3 on since December, so I'm going to be bad.

Unfortunately, the game plan didn't work out how I wanted it to work out, leaving me frustrated, but teaching me valuable things about being an NBA general manager:

Most importantly?  There aren't any faces in the D-League.

After assigning Thabeet to the D-League and trading Darrell Arthur for a second round pick (I don't want him to choke like his alma mater did this weekend), I realized I could probably use a back-up big man.  Being a D-League supporter like I am, the first place I look is at the D-League's League Leaders.

The best player in the D-League is apparently Tom Thompson, a 6-foot-10, 232 pound rookie power forward out of Connecticut.  The only thing I know about him, however, are his D-League statistics - a gaudy 23.1 points and 11.9 rebounds.  Those numbers are impressive, sure, but it's against players I've never watched play - I'm assuming a video game's D-League is not very good.  Plus, he doesn't even have a picture!  Does this mean he has character issues and decided he didn't want to show up at media day?  Why wasn't he drafted?  What kind of parents name their child Tom Thompson?  Regardless, a lot of downside to picking up the top player in the D-League.

When I look through the free agent pool, however, I notice that Melvin Ely is sitting at home, just waiting for a chance at playing for my franchise!  He's played in the NBA eight seasons, he can play both the PF and C positions, he has an NBA ring and it looks like he was fairly productive with Charlotte for a few seasons!  Plus, he has a sweet goatee, is a former first round pick, has the same 60 overall rating as Thompson!  And Ely's a seasoned 31 years of age - he's still got a few years of prime ballplayin' left in him!  Obviously if he's been in the NBA for this long, he's better than Tom Thompson. The best part about it?  When I go to sign him, he happily accepts the veteran minimum for an 8-year NBA player and even the role as "bench warmer - playing time will be very limited."

I don't have anything against Melvin Ely, but I'm a bit disappointed that he was my final answer when it came to choosing between what was a faceless D-Leaguer or Ely - a guy that hadn't played all season and has never really been impressive over his NBA career.

Thus, my goal for the rest of the season is putting a face on all of the current D-Leaguers, starting with tomorrow morning's Randy Livingston Memorial On The Edge Call-Up Rankings, version 5.0 (most recent iteration here).  I also plan to break down the top players by position.  Starting with point guards Tuesday afternoon.

If there's anybody in particular you are interested in learning about, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment - Yes, I'm taking requests, as long as I can fathom them being in the NBA someday.

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