With training camp for most NBA teams merely weeks away, many D-League prospects are logging those extra hours in the gym as they hope for an invite to camp.
For some players, such an opportunity simply provides more exposure. For others, it serves as validity that they are in fact oh so close to breaking into the league.
29 year old Marvin Phillips has been on the grind for quite some time, making strides in the D-League since 2008. Though he finished last season with the BayHawks, it was as a member of the Mad Ants during the 2010-11 campaign that the forward appeared to have broken out.
In addition to being recognized as the league's best and most efficient rebounder, Phillips posted strong numbers as well, averaging 12.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals in just 27.2 minutes per game.
Though he's listed at 6'7", the gritty forward plays much taller as he guards bigger opponents and aggressively attacks the glass when crashing the boards. Phillips' rebounding ability and smothering defense help him throw the word "potential out the window---this man has a proven skill set, capable of allowing him to help a number of NBA teams.
But his talents don't just lie on the defensive end of the court. As seen in the video below, Phillips (when looked upon to do so) can also hold his own offensively.
Constantly under the basket, Phillips follows up offensive rebounds with sweet put-backs and furious slams. What's more, the forward has the ability to step on out to hit the occasional jump shot as well. During his breakout season in 2010-11, Phillips shot 54% from the field with Fort Wayne, and followed it up with a still impressive 46% as he filled a reserve role for Erie last season.
In recent years, basketball fans have watched in awe as shorter big men such as Ben Wallace and Chuck Hayes have helped anchor their teams' respective defenses. In a league filled with a bevy of star-studded squads, NBA staffs are surely looking for unique niche players to step in and fill various voids on rosters. There's no reason why Phillips can't help serve that purpose in The Association.
With his eyes set on a potential invite to an NBA camp in the coming weeks, Phillips has recently been playing pickup ball with members of the Washington Wizards to help heighten the level of competition. The idea behind this is surely to keep him at the top of his game, if and when that opportunity comes his way.
Phillips may not be a star, but that has never been the type of player the D-League is accustomed to producing. Instead, the forward has used the last couple of seasons to hone his talents, specializing in a couple of different skills that help make him the type of player a competing NBA squad needs.
With so many star-studded casts headlining championship competing teams, a select few niche players are needed to help fill out the rosters. Given his elevated play over the last season or two, there's no reason why a player like Phillips can't step in and provide a pleasantly surprising boost off an NBA bench.