Eric Musselman is entering his first season as head coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, making his debut this weekend with a set of away games against the Dakota Wizards, after coaching the Reno Bighorns last year. The former head coach of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings was on NBA TV to talk about the upcoming season earlier this week.
Musselman's team will be led by Jamaal Tinsley, a player who started at point guard for the Indiana Pacers not too many seasons ago, but the rest of his team isn't quite as well-known. As I wrote in my power rankings, though, they'll still be a tough team to play.
The D-Fenders don't have the strongest roster, at least as far as players I'm familiar with, so this ranking is probably too low for the Los Angeles Lakers' D-League affiliate. The team does have a great coach in Eric Musselman, however, and will be led by longtime Indiana Pacer Jamaal Tinsley at the point guard spot.
The D-Fenders forcused mostly on the backcourt through the draft, picking up a pair of NBA prospects in Anthony Gurley (who was eventually released) and Eniel Polynice to team with Tinsley, but the frontcourt seems to be a bit of a question mark -- specifically whether they will be able to get out and run as much as Musselman would like.
Brandon Costner will create plenty of match-up problems with his ability to both shoot and bang in the post depending on the match-up, but the remaining big men are all kind of question marks after being a couple of years removed from the NBA landscape. Former Syracuse Orange big man Terrence Roberts once looked like an NBA prospect, but he's floated around in some less than stellar leagues overseas for the past four seasons.
One player I failed to mention in that piece is Zach Andrews, a big man out of Bradley that the team was able to acquire through open tryouts. The 6-foot-8 big man scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a closed scrimmage earlier this week against Mexicali Soles, a team from Mexico's National League.
I've learned that Roberts played well in the game as well, scoring 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting while hauling in seven rebounds himself. The other standout was Franklin Session, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Cal State-Los Angeles, as he filled the box score with six points, six rebounds and five assists.
Soles was led by Greg Smith, the former Fresno State draft prospect, with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Two of the team's players were pretty familiar with the opposing head coach, too, as Jose Vargas and David Cubillan both are members of the Venezuelan National Team coached by Musselman. Cubillan scored 13 points in the game while Vargas chipped in 11 in the exhibition loss.
Sticking with the D-Fenders motif, by the way, there was a great profile in the Orange County Register about Joey Buss. The son of Jerry, Buss is working as the general manager of the Laker's minor league affiliate rather than taking a position with the Lakers that he hasn't earned.