The NBA Development League wrapped up another terrific draft Friday night, and now that the dust has settled it is time to look back and assess how each team did. It is necessary to consider that certain teams needed a stronger draft showing than others. For example, with the NBA D-League MVP Justin Dentmon set to the return to the reigning champion Austin Toros, a stellar draft performance wasn't crucial for Austin to enjoy success this upcoming season. However, the teams who finished in the bottom half of the standings last season had a lot more to gain from turning in a solid performance this past Friday night.
Before we dive into the grades, I want it to be clear that I considered the players already named to be apart of each respective teams training camp. The grades below are based upon taking that into consideration, but weighted more on the actual draft itself, and the pool of players that teams had the opportunity to choose from in their specific draft position. Without further ado here are my 2012 D-League draft grades...
1. Fort Wayne Mad Ants - B+
Fort Wayne entered the evening with the first overall pick and many had an idea where they were going with it. The Mad Ants selected JaJuan Johnson, the 6'10'' 220 pound forward out of Purdue was a no brainer. Johnson enters the season as the NBA D-League's top prospect for good reason. Johnson was a former first round selection in the 2011 NBA draft and played in 36 games for the Boston Celtics last season. Where Fort Wayne really earned their high mark was with their fourth round selection of Darryl Partin. Partin is a 6'5'' rookie and played his last two seasons of college ball at Boston University. His senior season he averaged 19.6 points, and 3.9 rebounds.
2. Sioux Falls Skyforce - B
The new staff for Sioux Falls made good use with their second overall pick drafting the "Mini Mamba", although a nickname change is likely needed now. Goudelock was the best recent former NBA talent in this year's draft and I think is very deserving of the second overall selection. Goudelock is ready for the NBA now, but whatever time he spends with Sioux Falls will surely prove to be beneficial for the team in terms of success. The Skyforce made great use of their second round pick drafting Mark Tyndale from Temple as well. Tyndale has logged time in the D-League before, and boasts career averages of 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. Tyndale should be a nice piece for the Skyforce as they made great use of their six picks in this year's draft.
3. Idaho Stampede - B
This being the first draft for the Stampede as a hybrid-single affiliate had to of changed how they have approached this draft from previous drafts. Regardless, I believe they made a solid choice in selecting Justin Harper with their first selection. Harper enters this season as the number 6 overall prospect according the official NBA D-League website, and the 6'9'' 225 pound was selected by Cleveland as the 32nd overall pick in the 2011 draft. Harper spent time playing in France before being apart of the Orlando Magic's training camp this season. The Stampede used their fourth round selection nicely when they chose Henry Thorns. Thorns, 5'9'' 165 from TCU, is a prospect to keep an eye on and nice pickup at the guard spot for the Stampede.
4. Maine Red Claws - B-
I wasn't sure where exactly Shelvin Mack would be drafted, but I liked him here as the fourth overall selection by Maine. Mack is listed as the 9th overall prospect entering the season and he surely has the game to eventually land himself a Call-Up back into the Association. Mack is a sturdy guard and should really benefit the Red Claws during his time with the club. I couldn't get on board with some of the other selections that Maine made over the evening, but the pick in Mack was a favorite of mine.
5. Reno Bighorns - B
Reno turned in a solid draft in my opinion. Demonte Harper in the second round was a highlight for me closely followed by their fourth round selection in Arinze Onuaku. Harper was waived by Portland out of training camp earlier this fall, but the undrafted Moorehead State alum hasn't really gotten a solid chance to prove his game amongst NBA talent. The upside is there, but the opportunity that presents itself under the guidance of the excellent coaching staff out in Reno could really benefit Harper.
6. Tulsa 66ers - C-
I couldn't get myself excited over any of the selections that Tulsa made in this year's draft. Overall, as a team heading into the season I like their chances for success with newly hired head coach Darko Rajakovic. It appeared they wanted to go with youth, drafting four rookies including a 7-footer in Travis Hyman from Bowie State. I'm always a fan of big man selection because there is tremendous upside to having a skilled 7-footer on any team. With the players Tulsa already listed as invites to their training camp, I imagine they will be a very solid team heading into the season.
7. Rio Grande Valley Vipers - B+
RGV turned a solid draft performance mostly hinging upon their first two picks. Chris Johnson and DeVon Hardin are both nice prospects as Johnson is a rookie out of Dayton. The 6'6'' forward drew some serious attention from NBA teams leading up to the season, and rightly so. Johnson has a nice wingspan and an alertness on the defensive end that could set him apart from others this season in the D-League. ESPN draft guru Chad Ford was on record as to saying Johnson had a "sweet stroke" when he saw Johnson training in New York. Other notable drafted players for RGV include Matt Dickey (UNC-Asheville), Glen Rice Jr(Georgia Tech). and former Oregon speedster Tajuan Porter.
8. Texas Legends - B
The Legends impressed me with their first and second round selections. Christian Eyenga at this point in the first round was a nice grab and Sean Singletary in the second round was just as great. Both players are on the D-League's top prospect radar and will likely draw interest from NBA scouts the moment they suit up in a Legends uniform. Singletary is a 6'0'' guard who played international ball last season averaging 9.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Singletary also had a brief stint with Sioux Falls where in 3 games he averaged 15.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists, ultimately leading to a Call-Up with the Bobcats in 2009.
9. Iowa Energy - B+
Iowa impressed me with what they were able to find in the late rounds, specifically landing D-League veteran guard Vance Cooksey in the 6th round. The Energy followed their Cooksey pick with another impressive late round gem in Patrick Richard, a 6'4'' guard from McNeese State. The Energy had two selections in the 2nd round and I preferred their second choice in center Terrence Jennings. Jennings played in this year's Summer League with Philadelphia and spent last season on the International basketball scene. Jennings even in college has never stuffed the stat sheet, but as the number 22 prospect overall his upside still remains.
10. Canton Charge - A-
The Charge scored three straight top 25 prospects with their first three selections, including the number 13th overall prospect Jorge Guiterrez in the 2nd round. The Charge utilized their double selections in the 2nd round quite nicely adding Ryan Rossiter, a 6'9'' forward. The Charge's top selection D'Aundray Brown went undrafted in this year's NBA draft, out of Cleveland State the 6'4'' guard has tremendous upside. Enough upside to land him on the D-League's top prospect rankings at the number 15 spot. On paper it appears the Charge turned a solid night from their "war room", the results should translate on the floor as well.
11. Bakersfield Jam -C+
The draft results from the Jam look solid, but no player really jumps out at you other than their top selection.Shan Foster, the D-League's 27th ranked overall prospect, had an impressive collegiate career for Vanderbilt where he averaged 15.1 points, and 3.9 rebounds. Foster spent last season abroad and also did fairly well for himself averaging 8.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 44 total games. The Jam enter the season with a nice mix of returning players including Brian Butch and Renaldo Major, so a mediocre draft is really nothing that will set the Jam back heading into the season.
12. Erie BayHawks -C+
Much like the aforementioned Jam, Erie enters the season with impressive returning players. The BayHawks did land themselves the number 20 overall prospect, Jack McClinton with their first round selection. Like so many others McClinton spent time overseas last year where he averaged 13.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. McClinton was drafted in the 2nd round by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2009 NBA draft. It was nice to see Ronnie Moss, who was highlighted here at RidiculousUpside.com prior to the draft land with Erie as well.
13. Santa Cruz Warriors - A
The newbies (well not really) to the scene had a very impressive night in this season's draft. With the 13th overall pick the Warriors landed themselves the talented Travis Leslie. Leslie currently sits as the 8th overall prospect in the D-League and was just waived a few days ago by the Los Angeles Clippers. I felt like Leslie was a definite steal at this spot and then the Warriors backed up that selection with Faisal Aden in the 3rd round, and the 26th overall D-League prospect Durrell Summers in the 4th round. Japeth Aguilar in the 7th round helped round out the Warriors successful evening.
14. Springfield Armor - C+
The Armor kicked off their evening by selecting the big German Tim Ohlbrecht, a 6'11" 255 pound center, at only 24-years of age there is plenty of potential to be seen here with Ohlbrecht. I thought the Armor's best selection came in the 5th round when they snagged Shawn Taggart. Taggart spent last season overseas where he averaged an impressive 16.4 points, and 8.2 rebounds in 20 games. The Armor will look to duplicate their most successful season as a franchise last year by implementing these two prospects amongst their other training camp invites.
15. Austin Toros - C-
Like I stated in the beginning of this piece, the Toros really didn't need to stress themselves with churning out a solid draft. Their first round selection Toure' Murry, a 6'5'' forward spent this past Summer League season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He played extremely limited minutes averaging 2.5 points, and 1.75 rebounds a game.
16. Los Angeles D-Fenders - C-
With noted NBA talent Jamario Moon already slated for training camp amongst others for newly hired head coach Reggie Theus, like the Toros, the D's didn't need any sort of impressive draft night selections either. The D-Fenders did select rookie Dairese Gray from New Mexico with their first round selection. With the D-Fenders affiliate (Los Angeles Lakers) in all the headlines currently for underachieving thus far, and an injury to Steve Nash already this season, perhaps drafting a young point guard with plenty of potential was exactly what the D-Fenders needed to do here.