Established Players Highlight An Exciting And Eventful Weekend in NBA D-League

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Three of the D-League's top talents have either already joined, or are set to join NBA squads following strong early starts. These announcements were only the collective cherry on top of what was an exciting weekend for the NBADL.

This past weekend marked one of big accomplishments for a bevy of D-League athletes, as both Chris Douglas-Roberts and Shelvin Mack received NBA call-ups to the Mavericks and Wizards, respectfully.

Both players have notable experience in The Association to date. Douglas-Roberts is a three-year veteran who played quality minutes in the past, both as a starter and reserve for the Nets and Bucks. On the other hand, Mack broke the Wizards' rotation last season as a rookie, and appeared in 64 games during the lockout shortened campaign.

The pair of guards each chose to use the NBADL this season as their bridge back to the big league. Mack owns a 19.7 point per game average, to go along with his 7.5 assists per contest, and CDR led the minors in scoring with 22.5 points per game on 49% from the field, which included 40% from long range.

The two undoubtedly set the tone for a player like Jarvis Varnado to also catch on with an NBA team as well. After impressing in two more contests for the Skyforce this weekend, the versatile big man will reportedly sign with the Celtics on Monday. Read on below to learn more about the new Celtics big man, and four other NBADL standouts who made the past couple of days exciting in the minors.

The NBA Call-Up: Jarvis Varnado

Before receiving word of the Celtics' interest, Varnado still managed to fill up the stat-sheet and dominate in a number of ways through two more contests for the Skyforce this weekend.

Logging two double-doubles, the 6'9" forward put up numbers well close to his season averages (14 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks), and even grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds in his final game, a 117-106 Skyforce victory over the Toros on Saturday.

Varnado will surely provide a boost to an otherwise depleted Celtics' front court, whether it be during games or by pushing others during practices. The big man is not afraid to use and/or sacrifice his body to get his way inside, asserting himself as quite the physical presence. He pesters offensive opponents with his alert hands, and has an efficient field goal percentage due to his easy opportunities under the basket following strong offensive rebounds.

The NBA-to-D-League Assignees: Fab Melo, Reggie Jackson, and Darius Johnson-Odom

As players like Douglas-Roberts, Mack, and Varnado work tirelessly to prove to NBA teams they deserve a shot in The Association, big league teams are also using the D-League to develop their existing prospects as well.

As if Mack's call-up wasn't enough of a headline-maker, one of his teammates on the Red Claws made some noise this weekend as well. Celtics' big man Fab Melo may not be one of the top scorers in the minors, but he's still doing his part to ready himself to help Varnado and company when he too gets called back up.

Playing for Boston's NBADL affiliate, Melo set a league-record with an eye-popping 14 blocks on Saturday night. Despite his effort coming in a loss to the Erie BayHawks, Melo wasn't just seen swatting opponents' shots away. The double-digit block performance was part of a triple-double performance in which the big man also scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. In his team's winning effort just a day before, Melo still logged 8 points and 6 rebounds in limited minutes as well.

In just his second NBA season, Thunder guard Reggie Jackson is showing flashes of similar offensive electricity to that of Russell Westbrook. With not many minutes to go around in Oklahoma City as the team rises to atop of the Western Conference, the point guard is using the D-League to further prove his worth.

Leading the 66ers to two victories, Jackson shot the lights out. Averaging a near triple-double himself this weekend, the guard averaged 32 points (on a total of 25 of 39 shots from the field), 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Whereas Melo set a league-record, and Jackson poured in the points through two games, Lakers' guard Darius Johnson-Odom found other ways to contribute in his sole game with the D-Fenders on Saturday.

Though he struggled to get into a rhythm offensively, the guard still managed to not only score 13 points, but also grab 6 rebounds, dish out 5 assists, and swipe 5 steals in his D-League team's latest victory. Such a defensive and versatile effort could give the Lakers an injection of life when it comes time to bring him back up.

The Promising Prospect: Henry Sims

After watching a trio of top D-League talents get called up over a short period of a couple days, BayHawks big man Henry Sims is certain to also have his eyes set on soon gracing an NBA hardwood.

Sims had the unique opportunity of muscling up next to a multi-time NBA all-star this past week, when Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire joined Erie for practices as part of his rehab process. Matching up against STAT as he prepped for the weekend's competitions seemed to make a difference for the center, as Sims led his team to two victories.

The big man is averaging 16.8 points, 8.3 boards, and 1.4 blocks per game on the season for Erie. With the D-League Showcase coming up at the beginning of next month, Sims could build on his productive start in order to shine on the larger platform. Such an effort could soon propel him to an NBA call-up of his own.

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