As reported here on RidiculousUpside.com earlier in the offseason, Bakersfield Jam swingman James Nunnally kept his NBA dream alive by working out for a handful of teams, stopping short of getting lured overseas like many of his counterparts.
Nunnally received a training camp invitation from the Memphis Grizzlies, and most players in his position would have jumped at the chance to simply catch on with a team as soon as they could. But as fate would have it, the UC Santa Barbara alumni held out for a more specific opportunity instead.
Nunnally recognized the benefits of signing with a team like the Phoenix Suns, one of now five NBA affiliates of the Jam. Of course, if he is subsequently waived by Phoenix following camp, he can easily catch back on with the affiliated Jam, if so desired. That said, there are a plethora of other advantages to him signing with a specific affiliate. Bakersfield Jam Assistant General Manager Brian Levy recently endorsed such a union.
"James Nunnally was on the radar. He got a workout with the Jazz and another workout with the Suns, and they liked him enough to bring him to camp," Levy said. "From what I'm hearing, he's playing really well there."
While speaking to RidiculousUpside.com at his team's open tryout session in Atlanta, Levy talked about the importance an affiliate like the Jam plays in communicating to their NBA partners which of their minor league studs may best fit the big league teams' needs.
"It's definitely a benefit. We talk to our guys and we tell them where the players are in their development. We tell them where we think these guys will be in a year or two years," Levy added. "It's about who they should keep an eye on, based on their needs and what they're communicating to us."
Levy also pointed to the assignment periods of Kendall Marshall and some of the Suns' other young guns as a beneficial time for both Jam players, and some of Phoenix's staff members that perhaps monitor said players' progress.
"The rapport that a guy like James has already built with some of their assignment players is a plus," he said. "He already knows Kendall Marshall and some of these other guys, so it becomes more comfortable to integrate those players into your organization."
Needless to say, the familiarity Nunnally has with some of the Suns, and the familiarity the organization already has with him, helps all around.
Levy concluded, "We talk to our [affiliates] all the time. The benefit of them assigning a player is that they watch those games pretty closely. They get detailed with it. They break down the film. Not only are they seeing their own assignment players, they're seeing our guys as well."
Nunnally's promotion of sorts certainly goes a long way towards providing the NBA's continuously growing minor league system even more credibility. The relationships Bakersfield maintains with its affiliates is further proof that it works.