I've been trying to figure out a decent daily component for Ridiculous Upside because there isn't exactly newsworthy things happening consistently in the D-League. My latest attempt:
Living in lovely Bismarck, North Dakota, one might think I'd love hockey. I actually hate it. However(!), I do like their idea of the "Three Star" system so I'm going to use it in evaluating the top three performers from last night in the D-League.
Third Star: Marqus Blakely, F, Iowa Energy
Over the past week, the Iowa Energy have lost three starters: Courtney Sims went to China, Mike Taylor decided to take his talents to Italy's second division and Othyus Jeffers was called up to the Washington Wizards. Nevertheless, the short-handed Energy picked up a 109-103 victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce thanks to Blakely's performance off of the bench.
Blakely, a 6-foot-5 forward who spent the preseason with the Los Angeles Clippers and began the D-League season with the Bakersfield Jam, provided a huge spark off the Iowa bench on Friday night on his way to 31 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
If there was going to be an NBA Summer League for sure this year, I'd guarantee someone would have locked Blakely up by now for an extended look just based on potential alone. If he's able to keep having big games like this as one of Iowa's top offensive options, however, the call-up could come anyway.
Second Star: Trey Johnson, G, Bakersfield Jam
Trey Johnson is
probably the best scorer in the D-League and he showed why on Friday night. Unfortunately, his team lost by three or he'd definitely be getting the top star of the night.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 combo-guard, made 17 of his 31 shot attempts from the field and 13-of-15 from the free-throw line to score 48 points in a 123-121 double-overtime loss to the Erie BayHawks.
With performances like this, NBA teams in need of scoring off of the bench will surely take notice. Heck, if it weren't for the Bulls giving away James Johnson, Trey would probably still be with the Raptors.
First Star: Ivan Johnson, PF, Erie BayHawks
Of course Ivan Johnson is the top star -- his team played a double overtime game and he didn't even pick up one technical foul!
Joking aside, the D-League's technical foul leader with 22 (second place has 10), Johnson came off of the bench for the BayHawks to score 34 points, grab 11 rebounds and dish 10 assists on the way to his first triple-double of the season. It's true that Johnson missed 15 shot attempts, but his team won so I'm going to gloss over that fact.
In all honesty, I think Ivan Johnson is the only thing keeping Ivan Johnson out of the NBA. He's the top big man scorer, he's good on the boards and he can play solid defense -- all things NBA teams covet -- but he can't keep his emotions in check. If he figures that part out, he's worth a look. Unfortunately, at the age of 27, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that he'll figure that part out.