When the New Orleans Hornets signed center Henry Sims to a 10-day contract, the market for serviceable centers in the NBA D-League was condensed even further. Sims, along with German big man Tim Ohlbrecht, represented two of the most valuable center options in the NBA D-League, and are now gone.
The current list of center options in the NBA D-League is led by Los Angeles D-Fenders center Jerome Jordan. Jordan joined the team in a trade from the Reno Bighorns, and rumors led some to believe that the Lakers were perhaps interested in Jordan. The Lakers claim that they have no deal set in place for Jordan, but the Jamaican born, 7-footer, will have ample opportunity to impress the Lakers' brass while playing for the D-Fenders. This season Jordan is averaging 13.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, and is considered the second overall NBA D-League prospect according to both NBADLeague.com, and HoopsHype.com.
Outside of the obvious option in Jordan, there are other productive centers lingering in the NBA D-League. NBA teams looking for added depth at the center position, should consider the following list of big men.
Brian Butch - Bakersfield Jam
Entering their first game with the Los Angeles D-Fenders this past weekend, Butch had a 12-game streak of establishing double-digit rebounding totals. On the season, Butch is averaging 12.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.0 block per contest. This is Butch's third season in the NBA D-League, and also as a member of the Bakersfield Jam. The Jam have been spoiled by Butch's efficient contributions over the years, and this season has been no different. At 6-11, 280 pounds, Butch has nice size, but his greatest attribute is his parameter shooting ability.
Butch has always been known for his shooting skills, but has recently stepped up his rebounding effort, and can provide NBA teams with a versatile option at the center position. Butch's lack in athleticism is perhaps the only knock to his game at the moment, but his ability to score the ball from outside can present interested NBA teams with an excellent spacing option for a big man.
Hilton Armstrong - Santa Cruz Warriors
Armstrong has made the most out of his time while on the floor for the Warriors, and currently leads the NBA D-League in field goal percentage. Armstrong is a forward/center that makes up for his somewhat small size as a center option, with his 7-4 wingspan. Armstrong is averaging 11.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 24.8 minutes.
Armstrong has five years of NBA experience to his credit, and joined Santa Cruz in mid-January, he has since provided the Warriors with an excellent low post option. Over his last 7 games, Armstrong has averaged 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds, while the Warriors have posted a 5-2 record.
Armstrong can provide NBA teams with a center option who has had NBA experience, and also understands the the intricacies of the game.
Hassan Whiteside - Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Whiteside is a sleeper pick in terms of potential NBA D-League centers who are ready for an NBA Call-Up. At 7-feet, 255 pounds, Whiteside surely has the proper size to make a difference in the Association. In fact, Whiteside has played in 19 total games for the Sacramento Kings in his career. Whiteside was a second round selection by the Kings in the 2010 NBA draft, but was assigned to the Reno Bighorns twice in his rookie season.
After starting the season out with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Whiteside is now a member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and will look to help fill the gap left by Ohlbrecht's absence. In Whiteside's six games with the Skyforce, he averaged 12.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 17.4 minutes. In his last four games with RGV, Whiteside is averaging 10.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks.
Whiteside is just 23-years old, and will continue to develop into an NBA center, but if teams need an energetic post presence with good size, he may fit the bill.
Mickell Gladness - Santa Cruz Warriors
Gladness is third overall in blocks per game (2.2) in the NBA D-League, behind Fab Melo and Jerome Jordan. The minor league veteran and heavily documented fringe NBA big man, is once again a candidate for a Call-Up. Gladness started off the season in Miami Heat's training camp, but was ultimately let go. Now with Santa Cruz, Gladness has shared his gifted athleticism and shot blocking skills with the team he is most familiar with at this stage in his career in the NBA D-League.
Last season, Gladness earned Call-Ups as a member of the Dakota Wizards, the Santa Cruz Warriors franchise name prior to their relocation this season . Gladness appeared in eight games with the Miami Heat, and played in 18 games (7 starts) for the Golden State Warriors last season. Gladness has all the physical tools necessary to play center in the NBA, and with his speed, the Alabama A&M alum presents NBA teams with another option at the post position from the D-League. Gladness is averaging 6.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 23.1 minutes.