Fort Wayne Mad Ant Tory Jackson taking a shot against LA D-Fender Courtney Fortson. (Randy Jackson Photography)
Top prospects in the NBA D-League have received a lot of attention since all-star weekend with some receiving call-ups to the NBA. Most recently, Jeff Foote - formerly of the Springfield Armor - received a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Hornets. Other top players were recently covered in a "best of the rest" article here on Ridiculous Upside, but what about the role players and contributors from the bench?
The D-League has quite a few talented players who do not get more than 28 minutes per game. Here is where we will focus, but first a few ground rules. All-Stars and those covered in the best of the rest article will not be considered, nor will players assigned from the NBA. Players with recent (this season) call-up are out as well.
With all that said, let’s take a look at a 5-man squad that is short on minutes, but huge on talent.
Tory Jackson - 5'11" 205lbs - 24 - Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Jackson is a unique true point guard that has all-around skills that allow him to score, rebound, and distribute the ball. His quick hands and explosive speed make him a serious threat at both ends of the floor. Jackson's defensive abilities are evident in his 1.48 steals per game which is 5th highest in the D-League.
With an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.16 he's clearly taking care of the ball and distributing well. He's doing all of this while averaging only 23 minutes per game. In his last 5 games he's averaged 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Brandon Ewing - 6'2" 195lbs - 25 - Iowa Energy
Ewing's basic stats are solid, but do not tell the entire story. He manages 8 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes per game while playing behind some talented players such as Mike Efevberha, Moses Ehambe, and Curtis Stinson.
Even with limited minutes Ewing is unselfish with the basketball. He is 5th in the league in assist percentage with 30.17 percent and has an assist-to-field goal attempt ratio of .77. Ewing takes care of the basketball with an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.88 and can knock down shots when he needs to with a true shooting percentage of 54 percent.
Dante Milligan - 6'9" 215lbs - 28 - Canton Charge
Doing multiple things well is a big part of Milligan's game. With 11 double-doubles this season, he has established himself as a dominate rebounder who can score off of second chance points. Milligan is second in the D-League in both blocked shots (1.39) and rebounds (9.6) per game.
He scores an average of 9 points per game with an impressive true shooting percentage of 53 percent. He's accomplished these numbers while only playing 24 minutes per game. Milligan is an effective backcourt player who plays good defense and keeps the glass clean.
Juan Pattillo - 6'6" 225lb - 23 - Bakersfield Jam
Pattillo is a product of the Western Kentucky University system where he was selected to the 2011 Lou Henson All-America Team his senior year. His hard play earned him the reputation of being a work-horse in the NCAA. With 9 double-doubles during his rookie NBA D-League season, Pattillo is living up to expectations.
He averages 14 points with a true shooting percentage of 55 percent. On the defensive side of the floor he is ranked 4th in the league in rebounds with 7 per game and averages one steal and one blocked shot per appearance as well. He plays hard on each play and deserves more than the 25 minutes that he currently plays.
Kyle Goldcamp - 6'10" 250lbs- 25 - Erie Bayhawks
Goldcamp got an invite to the Cleveland Cavaliers pre-season camp, but ended up with the Erie Bayhawks for his 3rd season in the D-League. He's averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes per game. With 9 double-doubles this season, Goldcamp has been explosive at times and is always a strong presence in the paint.
With a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 62% and an efficiency rating of 17.73, Goldcamp capitalizes off of second chance points, takes smart shots, and gets a lot of work done in his compacted playing time. At times a solid shot-blocker, Goldcamp is a strong backcourt player capable of putting up big numbers in multiple columns.
Here's my 5-man squad. Who are your top 5?