Scouts scour the D-Leagues stats and highlights looking for the next Jeremy Lin. However, sometimes finding a player like Greg Stiemsma - a D-League double-double machine who can contribute off the bench - is far more likely.
Stiemsma has gone on to average 3.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocked shots in 12.8 minutes per game with the Minnesota Timberwolves so far this season.
So who else will follow Stiemsma's path to the NBA? Jarvis Varnado is certainly a candidate and was recently covered by Ridiculous Upside's David Scrivines. Digging deeper, Micah Downs has put up the kind of numbers that are attractive to a team looking for positive contributions off the bench.
Downs spent last season overseas with Assignia of the Spanish ACB league, averaging 11.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists. His explosive play caught the attention of the Celtics, who invited him to training camp this year. He was eventually waived by Boston, but was subsequently acquired by the Maine Red Claws as an affiliate player.
His athleticism makes him capable of driving to the basket, shooting from mid-range, and also hitting the three-point shot.
As a member of the Red Claws, he is averaging 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. With his skills and scoring ability, Downs can easily fit in the 2 or 3 spot. Perhaps his greatest asset is his hustle. Often beating the defense down the floor, Downs creates opportunities for easy transition buckets.
While Downs does have a nice shot, his style of play is based on aggressively attacking the rim. He can slash to the basket and dunk or pull up for a floater. This typically gives him room on the perimeter and opens up easy mid-range baskets. Ultimately, he selects his shots well and takes advantage of what the defense is offering.
There's a lot of upside with Downs. He's a hard worker who never takes a play off. He rebounds, plays solid defense, and distributes well too. All of these qualities are reminiscent of the kind of play that got Stiemsma to the NBA. Expect Downs to keep trying to follow in his footsteps.