On Thursday, basketball fans were overwhelmed with the news that two lottery selections-- the Thunder's Jeremy Lamb and the Suns' Kendall Marshall-- were both assigned to the minor leagues and will report to their team's respective D-League affiliate.
Lost in all of the debate of whether or not these said lottery picks "deserve" to be sent down to the NBADL was the news that Canton Charge forward Kevin Jones received an NBA call-up to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As Lamb and Marshall both look to make strong enough impressions in the D-League to prove their worths to their NBA squads, Jones is a perfect example of how one can use the minors to catch the attention of a squad in The Association.
After being waived in training camp by the Cavs, the team still saw enough potential in the forward to warrant keeping a closer eye on him. Looking for a place to play after getting cut, Jones' services were retained by Cleveland's D-League affiliate, the Charge.
At just 6'8", an early knock on Jones' game has been that he's too small to be able to assert himself against some of the NBA's more aggressive forwards.
If the Cavs had any early doubts about that following training camp, Jones has used his early stint in the D-League to begin putting those all to rest. At 251 pounds, the West Virginia alum has muscled his way inside, using his strength to grab an immense amount of boards in the early goings of the season. Averaging 13.7 rebounds through his first three contests, Jones is among the league leaders in that category.
Jones seems to understand that it's doing all of the little and/or unique things on the court that will get an aspiring prospect noticed by an NBA team. 6 of Jones' 13.7 boards per game come off the offensive glass. What's more, he's averaging 1.7 steals per game and is also shooting an efficient 54% from the field.
But the NBA D-League's third call-up of the young season can, without a doubt, score the basketball too. As if he wasn't dominating the competition enough by simply filling up the other parts of the stat-sheet, Jones' 27 points per game prove he's a capable scorer from inside as well.
Jones has gone from setting out to prove he deserves a shot in the NBA, to now proving he's just as deserving of minutes on the court for one as well. Though Cleveland did in fact sign Jones to a contract, they also subsequently assigned him to the Charge, keeping him in Canton for a bit longer. All this means is that the forward will just have to continue doing more of the same, showing the Cavaliers that he'll be ready and able to contribute when called upon to do so.
Such a call-up (and subsequent re-assignment) just further proves the great relationships that NBA teams are beginning to form with their D-League affiliates. These minor league squads are undoubtedly becoming further extensions of the big league teams. They understand what kind of player the parent squad is looking to discover and/or develop, and certainly keeps in contact to let them know who's hot and who's not.
Whereas minutes may not be available for Jones in Cleveland at this very moment, it's safe to say the Cavs saw enough in the gritty forward early on to want to formally snatch him up before someone else did. Keeping him in Canton after training camp surely helped convince them, as he's been front and center with the team's affiliate ever since.
Staying in Canton helped Jones eventually earn an NBA call-up, and it's not the first time such an extended training camp of sorts helped a good-looking prospect. Daniel Orton also re-signed with the Thunder after being waived in training camp, all because they were able to still keep tabs on him with the Tulsa 66ers afterwards.