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The D-League has already seen a bevy of its prospects get called up to the NBA this season, but a trio of Erie BayHawks highlight some of the better talent still available in the minors. Here's RidiculousUpside.com's resident scout's take on all three.
The Erie BayHawks (7-5) are currently one of the hottest team in the NBADL. The New York Knicks' affiliate club had its five-game winning streak end Saturday night, with a loss to division opponent Fort Wayne (5-10).
Sims, the 22-year-old from Georgetown, has the highest ceiling of the trio. He's averaging 16 points and 8.1 rebounds through 11 games. The 6-foot, 10-inch center has long arms and physically resembles former NBA journeyman Mark Blount. Sims is an aggressive defender, uses his body well, and has shown steady improvement early this season. He blocks out and rebounds aggressively, moves his feet deceptively well when defending quicker/smaller players on the perimeter, and has a solid grasp of the club's defensive system.
On the offensive end, the big man has a mid-range step-back jumper, which serves as his "go to" move. He is not a great shooter, but knows his range and makes good decisions while playing within his means. Sims must improve his offensive repertoire and improve his concentration and body control when finishing in the paint. His ability to finish through contact must get better as well.
The Baltimore, Maryland native participated in the 2012 NBA Summer League with the Utah Jazz. He then spent training camp with the New York Knicks, prior to being acquired by Erie through the affiliate rule. Sims averaged 11.8 points and 5.3 boards with the Hoyas during his senior year at Georgetown, while shooting 47.9% from the field. He went undrafted last June, despite many projections of him being a second round pick. It is possible Sims could get a call-up in the next few weeks, especially if he has a good showing at the NBA D-League Showcase.
Benson, the 24-year-old from Oakland University, has compiled solid numbers in two partial D-League seasons. He's averaging 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds through the first 11 games of the current campaign. Last season, he put on display similar promise with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The 6-foot, 11-inch forward is a post player with a real strong work ethic and physically resembles the body type of Jared Jeffries. Benson is a solid defensive rebounder, makes good hard block outs, establishes good early position in the post (on both ends of the floor), moves well without the ball, and has a real good court sense. He may not have a "go to" move on the offensive end like Sims, but still plays like a veteran with good basketball IQ.
Kennedy, the 23-year-old out of St. John's University, is one of the better all-around players in the D-League this season. He leads the BayHawks in points (19.7), rebounds (8.4), and assists (5.3) per contest this season. He has a strong, wiry frame resembling a lighter version of Josh Smith's frame. He has a solid mid-range game, shows creativity in getting to the basket, drawing contact, and getting to the free throw line (where he is shooting 87.3% on the season). Defensively, he is solid and in good position on the defensive glass. His court awareness and instincts are good, in general. Kennedy is Erie's primary ball handler, but is more of a combo guard. He could fill a short-term need for an NBA club, although he would have to develop more consistency shooting the ball in order for a team to move him off the ball.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native played in 44 games for Erie in 2011-2012, averaging 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per contest. Kennedy played in two games with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, scoring 12 points in his debut. Cleveland dealt Kennedy to Memphis in July, before releasing him in September. Memphis re-signed him later in September, but released him in October. Kennedy averaged 11.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest in 129 career games at St. John's.