At Saturday's NBA D-League All-Star Game, a bevy of reserves stole the show for their respective teams as both squads went on to provide an exciting contest at the Sprint Arena in Houston.
The NBA D-League pits its players against one another in the NBADL All-Star Game by separating them into two teams, respectively labeled the "Futures" and the "Prospects."
But the annual contest started off a bit differently here in 2013. Instead, the game began as a matchup between the "Prospects" and the Maine Red Claws.
By acquiring James Mayes last week, Maine reeled its unprecedented fifth D-League All-Star in for their lineup. With the Red Claws' coaching staff at the helm of the "Futures" squad, one could have only bet on the coaching staff letting their entire regular starting five hit the hardwood to start the All-Star Contest. That's exactly what they did.
In addition to Mays, Shelvin Mack, Micah Downs, Chris Wright, and DaJuan Summers all started for the "Futures," while Jerel McNeal, Damion James, Tim Ohlbrecht, D.J. Kennedy, and Henry Sims all started for the "Prospects."
Both teams seemed to allow specific units alternately hit the hardwood throughout the game. Much of the contest saw each squad subbing large groups in and out together. In for the Red Claws later on included a group that included Courtney Fortson, Jerome Jordan, and Ron Howard. The trio meshed interestingly well enough together, communicating and staying in one another's ears while in the game. Howard impressed as he spread the floor, and Fortson and Jordan represented a formidable pick and roll duo that went to work quite often. Fortson added 20 points and 4 assists, while Jordan shot 6 for 6 on his way to 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Despite how seamlessly such players seemed to fit together, it wasn't enough to beat the "Prospects." Travis Leslie and Justin Dentmon led the ever so balanced offensive effort by the squad. Leslie scored 19 points, and Dentmon stood out by manipulating the opposing defense while keeping them guesses as to whether he would shoot, drive to the hoop, or dish out the rock instead. The guard added 18 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.
The duo led all of nine "Prospects" team members in double figures. The only player who scored under 10, D.J. Kennedy, logged a still impressive near triple-double performance of his own.
It was Leslie who, in addition to leading his team to a 139-125 victory, stole the show by sparking a back and forth dunk-off between both teams later in the game. The swingman took home M.V.P. award honors in the contest.
With offensive fluidity at its utter best throughout the game by both teams, an array of players were given respective chances to shine, strut their stuff, and pour in the points. The showmanship put on display by Leslie and company simply added to what was an exciting game filled with some of NBADL's most promising talent.