D-League Call-Up Rankings: Randy Livingston Memorial "On The Edge" Style

You're probably tired of seeing this picture, but I couldn't find a youtube video of Notorious B.I.G.'s Everyday Struggle.

The General D-League Blogosphere's Randy Livingston Memorial On The Edge Call-Up Rankings are back with a vengeance!

Since our last rankings came out (February 16th), the following nine players have been called-up: Antonio Anderson, Mike Harris, Reggie Williams, Will Conroy, Chris Richard, Garrett Temple, Othyus Jeffers, Alonzo Gee and Cedric Jackson.  That said, there were more call-ups in March last season than any other month, leading me to believe that while the talent pool is a bit picked over, the call-up's aren't going to stop.

Might as well rank 'em!

As always, the comments are mine (I'm dedicating them to the late Notorious B.I.G. who passed away 13 years ago today) unless noted otherwise.  Please address hate/fan mail to Scott Schroeder, unemployed D-League scribe.  Thanks.

 

Randy Livingston Memorial "On The Edge" Call-Up Rankings

 Player w/ link

to season stats


Jon L

(RU)


Matt Moore

(HP)


Scott Schroeder

(RU)


Steve Weinman

(D-League Digest)

Composite

Rankings

Mike Harris 1 3 3 1 1 (tie)
Mustafa Shakur 2 1 2 3 1 (tie)
Alexander Johnson 3 6 1 5 3 (tie)
Morris Almond 4 2 5 4 3 (tie)
Dwayne Jones 5 4 6 2 5
Rod Benson 6 7 7 6 6
Trey Johnson 9 NR 4 9 7
Cartier Martin 7 NR 9 7 8
Rob Kurz 10 NR 8 8 9
Brian Butch NR 5 NR NR 10

1. (tie) Mike Harris, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (26.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 58% FG) - It shouldn't come as a surprise that Mike Harris is once again at the top of the list - he's simply been dominant during D-League play and is just returning from a 10-day call-up with the Washington Wizards.  I ranked him third not because he's the third best player in the D-League, but I think NBA teams still aren't sure how to use a 6-foot-6, 235 pound comboish-forward.  My advice: Just put him on the court and let him be D-League scrappy. You won't be mad.

1. (tie) Mustafa Shakur, Tulsa 66ers (20.5 ppg, 7.1 apg, 4.6 rpg, 2.3 spg, 51% FG, 41% 3pt) -  I said everything I have to say about Shakur right here, so read that quick if you're questioning how Shakur tied Harris for the top spot this week.  Interestingly enough, Shakur didn't play in Tulsa's game last night due to what Tulsa PR says was an "illness."  I'm guessing he's probably sick of not being called-up, because he's been consistent all season.  That, or "illness" is code for "on his way to the NBA."

3. (tie) Alexander Johnson, Sioux Falls Skyforce (23.4 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 54% FG) - I'm going to assume Johnson is the next player to get called-up from the D-League.  He's got all of the buzzwords going for him - he's explosive, has a great body, he's skilled and has an NBA resume (102 NBA games in two seasons between Miami and Memphis).  He's got an ugly but effective mid-range shot, is quick enough to put it on the floor from the pinch post, and pretty much just plays hard.  As an aside, I'm going to assume he was ranked lower by the other members of the panel simply because they've yet to see him play in the D-League (six games with three starts thus far).  (I wrote the preceding on February 16th and don't feel inclined to change it. I did update the stats, however.  I also plan to have a full post devoted to Johnson soon, possibly later today.)

3. (tie) Morris Almond, Maine Red Claws (25.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 50% FG, 40% 3pt) -He's awesome on offense, below average on defense.  I guess I really don't know what else to tell you about him.  He hasn't developed much since he was a first-round pick by the Utah Jazz, but he was also a first-round pick by the Utah Jazz - the talent is there.  I don't know about any character issues, so apparently the offense just doesn't outweigh the defense in the eyes of NBA scouts.  That said, according to an update yesterday on his Twitter account, he's "making adjustments and preparations."  I don't know if that's referring to his basketball game, however, because he later tweeted that he was "on the internet, ordering another engine. for the lavendar chevy with the suede grey innards."  As I've said before, I don't know why I try to understand his Twitter updates.

5. Dwayne Jones, Austin Toros (17.4 ppg, 15.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 62% FG) - I've written about Jones so much this season that I really don't know what to say about him anymore.  Weinman, who ranked Jones highest, says it was "more out of respect for his bonkers D-League production than anything else. Still not sure I totally understand why he hasn't gotten a shot this year."  I'm not sure why he hasn't received a call-up either, but I have my guesses.

6. Rod Benson, Reno Bighorns (14.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 54% FG, 1.8 bpg, 1.5 spg) - For whatever reason, Benson's been a bit of a late-bloomer over his four-year D-League career - he always seems to get better as the season goes progresses.  I don't know why that it is, and I'm not sure it's necessarily beneficial, but I'm going to report it as fact.  To support my fact, I'd like to tell you that since February, Benson's played 14 games and averaged 16.2 points and 11.2 rebounds.  During that time, his best game was a 19 point, 17 rebound and three block effort in 30 minutes of action against former NBA bigmen Courtney Sims and Earl Barron.  Since he's no longer blogging, I'm not entirely sure what excuse NBA teams have to not give him an opportunity.  Still, they apparently have them.

7. Trey Johnson, Bakersfield Jam (18.5 ppg, 14.0 apg, 3.5 TO - 2 games) - Judging from the rest of the panel's votes, I might be jumping the gun a bit by ranking him as the fourth best prospect in the D-League.  Still, he oozes NBA potential, especially when he's running the point as effectively as he has in his return to the D-League.  At 6-foot-6, with his ability to score and distribute, there's an NBA job somewhere out there for him - especially since he didn't look terrible in his two opportunities with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.  As DraftExpress notes, he also looked good in Vegas for the D-League Select team, which can't hurt being as it was in front of every NBA team against (mostly) NBA-caliber players.

8. Cartier Martin, Iowa Energy (16.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 46% FG, 41% 3pt) - I'm not really as high on Martin as others, but he's earned NBA call-up's each of his two professional seasons, so I'm obviously missing something.  Offensively, he's very good, but also typically streaky.  On defense, he seems to be pretty good in the D-League, but I wasn't all that impressed with it when he was with Golden State for a pair of 10-days.  The thing I like most about him is his effort, which probably should account for something.  Does my sub-par review mean he doesn't deserve a call-up? No. Does it mean I like other players? Yes.

9. Rob Kurz, Fort Wayne Mad Ants (17.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 52% FG, 46% 3pt, 82% FT) - Kurz gets my mid-season award for using the D-League most effecitively. Last season with Golden State, he was primarily (read: only) a pick-and-pop shooter. After that gig didn't fly in a number of opportunities this offseason (Orlando Summer League with the 76ers/Nets combined team, Vegas Summer League with the TWolves, preseason with the Cavs), he came to the D-League and has worked on becoming more than a shooter. It's actually really working. I'm not sure how much credit to give to his coach (Joey Meyer was also credited for developing Ramon Sessions while in the D-League), but Kurz is now able to score in the post and averaging over 10 boards per game as the lone bright spot for his struggling Mad Ants. Oh, and don't worry - his 45% shooting from beyond the arc proves he's still able to shoot as well.  In fact, all of those shooting percentages are pretty good, no? (I wrote the preceding back on February 16th, but have updated the averages. Since then Kurz has been in and out of action with a deep thigh bruise.  He didn't look wonderful in his return last night, but he's obviously an NBA call-up candidate and would have been ranked much higher if we knew he was healthy.)

10. Brian Butch, Bakersfield Jam (17.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 48% FG, 36% 3pt, 68% FT) - Essentially, he's what Kurz was before Kurz learned how to play in the post - a tall, one-dimensional shooter with average defensive abilities.  Still, he was the All-Star game MVP and is bringing in 11.1 rebounds per game, so there are things to like.  Since Moore was the only one that ranked him, I probably should have let him write this one, but I was on a deadline.  Maybe there will be an update later.

To round it out (i.e. tell you guys that were ranked individually, but not collectively):

  • Moore ranked Earl Barron as his 8th best prospect.  Barron's averaging decent numbers (15.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 49% FG) and has been in the NBA before, but I'm not ready to rank him quite yet.
  • Moore ranked Alade Aminu as his 9th best prospect and Weinman ranked him 10th.  Moore's explanation being "Young, talented, brother of an upcoming lotto pick, size, potential, get 'em cheap!"
  • I ranked Romel Beck at nine, while Moore backed me up by ranking him 10th.  My reasoning being that Beck is averaging 18.9 points in 32 minutes per game while shooting 54% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc.  The knock on him is defense (it's not that bad), plus he's long (6-foot-8) and athletic enough that I think if he focused on it he could be serviceable.
  • Jon L ranked Donell Taylor at eight.  Taylor's a former NBA player and is averaging 22.1 points and 6.2 rebounds for the (stat-inflating) Idaho Stampede, so Jon L's justified, I just like other players.
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