Yawwwwwwwwwwwn. Streeeeeeeeetch. What's that? D-League news? Oh yes, I suppose I should write something about that.
Same as last year, the D-League is hosting an "Elite Mini Camp" for NBA teams to get a look at players who weren't called-up last season. If you're unaware, this mini camp has been held right before the NBA draft as a way to get certain players more exposure and potentially spots on training camp rosters.
I'm not sure I'd agree with D-League Preesident Dan Reed in the above video (it's from last year - calm down Celtics fans) that teams will be inviting these players to camp instead of their second-round picks, but I do think that many of these guys should get looks instead of some undrafted rookies. (Scott's take: I think he means instead of teams buying back into the second round. I hope that's what he means, anyway. Otherwise, Jon L is on point.)
Here's this year's list, with last year's for comparison. After the jump, I'll break down the group by position:
Russell Robinson got some positive notice for his work with Orlando's Summer League team last season, but he had an okay-but-not-great D-League year that saw him traded from Reno to the Red Claws mid-season.
I'm not really enthused about other guys.
Kevin Kruger has done relatively well on a per-minute basis, but is a sieve on defense and dribbles too much.
Both Jonathan Wallace and Leemire Goldwire are three-point shooters more than they are point guards, although it should be noted that pretty much all of these guys can shoot.
I'm a little surprised Trey Johnson isn't on this list, but perhaps he already has another offer (he played in both the Orlando and Vegas Summer League's last year, so that certainly isn't out of the equation).
I can think of a few more better point guards, but they have some marginal NBA experience in the past so they may have been considered over-qualified for this camp (although former first-round pick Yaroslav Korolev is here, so that's probably not it).
Honestly, the point guard list might be able to out-shoot this group.
Antoine Agudio, Hofstra's finest, does well from behind the arc and he actually played a bit of the point guard for a dismal Thunderbirds team last year.
Lewis Clinch can go off but he's a bit streakier - He did provide a lot of energy off of Austin's bench last year, as a positive.
Dar Tucker was last seen winning last year's D-League dunk contest before disappearing into the morass that was Chucky Brown's rotation.
Donell Taylor washed out (if we're being honest) as Erie's everyday point guard before settling in as a combo guard in Bob MacKinnon's offense up in Idaho.
Jackie Manuel has a good defensive reputation, but is on the wrong end of upside and isn't much on offense.
Shy Ely showed occasional flashes of talent at various points last season, but averaged less than 12 minutes a game so it's tough to gauge where he is.
Here, too, I question some of the non-selections. Where's Cecil Brown? Where's Andre Ingram? Where's Pat Carroll? Where's Moses Ehambe? Where's Mildon Ambres? (And yes, I'm aware that there are likely answers to all of these, but I'd rather see them get this kind of exposure.)
Mark Tyndale is athletic and versatile, though his offensive contributions come largely in getting to the rim and/or free-throw line, and he got a training camp invite with the Bucks last year.
Jared Newson and Yaroslav Korolev are more athletic than anything else (semi-related question in light of last night's MLB draft; should we start calling certain basketball players "toolsy?").
I'm not a huge fan of Ryan Ayers, but if he can get a bit quicker on the court he could find a niche as a Bruce Bowen-type (defend and run to the corner to shoot threes).
Chris McCray is a decent defender but had an awful year offensively, and probably is more of a shooting guard in the NBA anyway (as is the 6'4" Newson).
This probably is the strongest group overall.
I'll be interested to see whether Bennet Davis's complete offensive transformation carries over to the offseason. He already was a good shotblocker and defender, but added a jump shot and a few other solid moves, making him probably the best all-around player in this group.
Julian Sensley is likely taking advantage of increased attention that came with the Vipers' championship run, but the reality is that he's a stretch-four whose outside shooting percentages have decreased every year.
I didn't see Darnell Lazare play much because I tried to avoid Springfield Armor games whenever possible (and I think Lazare's team, Maine, played them every other game), but he rebounds about as well as Sensley and Sykes do and scores on a level with Sykes, but with a worse percentage and fewer thunderous dunks.
Will Daniels attempted 64 three-pointers last season, for reasons likely known only to him. Scott likes him though, so he has that going for him:
I don't think I've professed this to you, but I think my favorite under-the-radar player in the D-League is Will Daniels. He's probably not on track to be in the NBA next season, but his talent is intriguing - plus I always love the players that suffer from not having a true position (think Mike Harris, add the ability to put the ball on the floor, but take away the other bells and whistles). He's not great on defense and his 3-point shot release is crazily inefficient, but he flat out knows how to score. I think it's because he's deceptively quick, but he beats his defender with regularity and finishes well at the rack. Anyway, in less than 20 minutes off the bench last night, Daniels had 24 points.
Michael Fey is probably the standout here, at least on offense. By which I mean, he actually has an offensive game. He was third among centers last year in field goal percentage, and considering the two guys ahead of him were dunk/tip-in "specialists" Cezary Trybanski and Kurt Looby, Fey probably should be given a little more credit.
Sean Sonderleiter is a rebounding/energy guy, who worked himself into better shape before last season allowed him to play more minutes, although that also meant he had more fouling opportunities.
Marcus Campbell is a pretty good rebounder, though he doesn't contribute much else. Still he seems to pop up on NBA radars during the Summer, but hasn't since a camp invite with the Rockets a couple seasons ago, so maybe he's here for that reason.
Darian Townes has been a backup so far in a D-League career, and while he's a pretty good backup, he's a pretty good D-League backup.
Mickell Gladness also has been invited. (And if you think that's harsh, may I direct you to his stats?)
I temporarily stopped listing players who should've been invited to the Elite camp but other centers I would've liked to see include: John Bryant, Looby, Paul Davis,and maybe (though he had some visa issues last year, so maybe those cropped up again).