The 2013-14 NBA D-League season is now officially underway, providing ample opportunities for a bevy of different players. From returning players hoping to pick right up where they left off last season, to NBA veterans embarking on a comeback trail, and not to mention, promising prospects looking to turn some heads and begin making a name for themselves, the new minor league season will undoubtedly prove to be an important next step for each one in their respective professional careers.
On Friday night, the lights became bright for the first time this season as plenty of such young guns received the opportunity to strut their stuff on the NBADL floor for the first time.
Of course, statistics and the ability to put up certain numbers doesn't always count for everything (especially in the D-League). Even so, let's take a look at ten players whose stat-lines were arguably amongst the best of the best from day one as they looked to make their presence felt right out the gates.
Chris Wright, Maine Red Claws
The big man and former Raptors training camp participant led the way for the Red Claws with 27 points (on 9 of 16 shooting from the field), 9 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots as Maine defeated the Springfield Armor by a score of 108-95. Wright knocked down two three-point field goals, converted on 7 of 8 shots from the charity stripe, and had a plus/minus rating of +16.
Kevin Jones, Canton Charge
Former Cavaliers' forward Jones (now a free agent) is starting the season off with the NBADL affiliate of his old squad. Known as quite the physical player and a grinder on the boards, the West Virginia alum not only grabbed a team-high 19 rebounds (7 of those were offensive), but also added 15 points on 7 of 17 shooting from the field. Jones had a plus/minus rating of +10 in Canton's 102-91 victory over the Erie BayHawks.
Quincy Douby, Sioux Falls Skyforce
Drafted number three overall in this month's NBADL Draft by Sioux Falls, Douby did a good job on opening night of proving why he was worthy of such a high selection. Leading his team to a 86-85 victory over the Reno Bighorns, the guard shot 10 of 17 (and knocked down four shots from downtown) on his way to pouring in 29 points. The 6'3" NBA vet was also active defensively, grabbing 4 steals and blocking two shots. He had a plus/minus rating of +10.
Ray McCallum, Reno Bighorns
Currently on assignment by the parent affiliated Sacramento Kings, NBA rookie McCallum did the best he could to help pace his team and keep them in the contest until the very end, despite the loss to Sioux Falls. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity to shine against some minor league competition, the guard was as efficient of a scorer as you could find in the D-League on Friday night. McCallum scored 28 points on 12 of 19 from the field, and connected on three bombs from long range.
Jarvis Varnado, Iowa Energy
Having no number one pick proved to give the Iowa Energy no problems in day one of the new NBADL season. Despite trading the top selection in this month's draft to the Tulsa 66ers just a couple weeks ago, the Energy also went on to acquire NBA champion Varnado from the Skyforce.
Now a free agent, Varnado wasted no time proving he's able to stand tall as a man amongst the boys in the D-League. Easy to spot on the big man's stat-line was his five blocks, but perhaps even more promising and impressive was his offensive production during his team's 127-117 victory over the 66ers. Varnado scored 20 points and grabbed 13 boards. The big man went to the line an efficient fourteen times, and boasted a plus/minus rating of +16 on the night.
Two players that arguably have household NBA names to brag home about already, Ebanks and Douglas-Robers provided the perfect one-two offensive KO punch in their team's 100-99 win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Ebanks leaped to new heights with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks in just 33 minutes. On the other hand, CDR went to work by doing what he does best: efficiently scoring the basketball and putting the rock in the hole. Douglas-Roberts led the Legends with 21 points (on 8 of 16 shooting from the field), but also grabbed 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and dished out 3 assists as well.
Pierre Jackson, Idaho Stampede
If gritty determination is worth anything in the D-League, it's safe to say Jackson displayed more of it than any other draft selection from last month on opening night. With an uncanny will to score the basketball, the fiery 5'10" guard persevered all night long for Idaho.
In fact, Jackson's 29 point effort was enough to lead the Stampede to a 121-113 victory over the Bakersfield Jam. Last season's last place finishing team defeated the first place finisher in this entertaining matchup. The Baylor alum sailed to the charity stripe fourteen times, and converted on twelve of those very shots.
Willie Reed, Springfield Armor
Waived by the Memphis Grizzling following training camp, Reed has since returned to strut his stuff in the NBADL with the Armor once again. Despite his team's opening night loss, one can rest assured Reed will continue to stand tall this season as one of the more promising prospects the minor league has to offer.
Not wasting any time to prove his worth yet again this year, Reed scored 16 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and swatted away 4 shots in Springfield's defeat.
Akeem Scott, Bakersfield Jam
There were certainly players with more points. The were others with more assists. Plenty of young guns saw more minutes on the court. Even so, Scott proved to be one of the most efficient players taking the D-League hardwood on opening night.
Above all else, the guard's strong play translated into a plus/minus rating of +5 (a team high) despite the Jam's loss to Idaho. Scott added 13 points and led Bakersfield with 6 assists in just 23 minutes of play. That's quite a minor league debut for a national tryout participant turned NBADL athlete. Look for the 30 year old to provide a necessary boost and serve as an impressive spark plug for the Jam off the bench all season long this year.
Editor's note: The Warriors/Toros contest ended too late for this report. Santa Cruz's Seth Curry went on to score 36 points in his team's win over Austin.