This season, it's arguably been more intriguing to keep an eye on some of the best spark plugs off D-League benches the league has to offer.
Of course, the NBADL's most talented and prominent prospects often grace the top of NBADLeague.com's official Prospect Watch on a weekly basis. Still, by observing the type of impact one has while coming off his team's bench, we can all acquire a better feel and sense for the kind of boost he'd be able to provide an NBA team in a similar role.
A perfect example of such a player this year has been the Canton Charge's Bo Spencer. After finishing off his collegiate career at Nebraska, the 24 year old spent last season in Italy before opting to venture out to the D-League. Since, he's had to adapt to more of a supporting role as he learns the floor general position a bit more. Even so, it's a transition that Spencer is so far enjoying.
"[The season] has been pretty good," Spencer told RidiculousUpside.com following Canton's win over the BayHawks on Sunday night. "The transition hasn't exactly been tough, but I've definitely been making the switch from being more of a scoring guard to a running general on the floor. I'm the guy who gets everybody together and gets them ready to play. That's always been my biggest opportunity--being the guy who gets everyone else involved."
"I like this a lot," Spencer added. In addition to noting the great chemistry Canton seems to have, the guard said, "This is great exposure. We have a great team. I just like playing."
Aside from simply being a rookie, one of the other reasons Spencer comes off the bench for the Charge is the fact that vet Jorge Gutierrez (he played for the Kings' NBA Summer League team this pass July) already starts at the one. Still, small ball is becoming an increasingly popular style of play in the NBA. Thus, there's no reason why the pair can't co-exist on the floor and play together at times. They already have this season. Being able to play alongside Gutierrez, watch him closely, and learn from an experienced point guard, is something Spencer has valued to date.
"He's a great guy," the first round 2013 NBADL Draft selection said of his fellow guard. "It's been great to have him as a teammate because of his experience. But playing with him is good also, because we complement each other on the court. The areas in which he lacks, I can kind of pick him up, but there are times where he picks me up also. But the experience that he's had in both the NBA and D-League has been great for me to learn from."
And even as a rookie, Spencer already feels the extra added exposure a prospect like himself receives from NBA executives by playing stateside again. The young gun has enjoyed being closer to home, where everyone speaks the same language (literally), and having the opportunity to keep in touch with family.
For a player with as much talent as Spencer, the idea of spending time in the minor league and waiting for that call-up to come can sometimes make a guy more anxious as time goes on. To combat such a feeling from being overwhelming, the Nebraska product says he and his teammates just concentrate on building a winning team in Canton.
It's seemed to work, as the Charge currently stand at 9-4. Spencer added, "I just try and stay as humble as I can. Most of all, this has been about the players and coaches staying together. We're getting closer and we're all like a family. When [a call-up] happens, it happens. You congratulate the next guy and be happy for them. We all enjoy each other and want the best for everybody. But the fact that we all play with heart and all genuinely want to be here is what keeps us going."
Being a smaller guard who can fill it up in bunches offensively, Spencer said that his favorite player of all-time is Allen Iverson. And as he eyes a potential role as a comb-guard of sorts in the NBA, the young gun watches the likes of Russell Westbrook and and Damian Lillard. He says guards like that are easy to idolize, because those are the types of scoring guards who have also made the transition to running a team as well.
Through thirteen games, Spencer has averaged 9.8 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.6 rebounds. Doing it all in just 25.2 minutes per contest, he's proven that he can provide quite a boost in moderate minutes. What's more, by playing alongside Gutierrez and contributing to a winning environment, the guard is showing signs of promising progression, even through just just over a quarter of the D-League season so far.