Since joining Ridiculous Upside I’ve seen articles on D-league stars almost every day but couldn’t recall reading a post on a D-league team recently . And that’s allright, since most of the players compete for their own right to live that NBA dream.
But here is my vision on the best team in the NBADL. I mean not the best record wise (though they surely were), but the best as a TEAM.
I remember reading NBADL teams’ fans comments back in early February where they expressed opinions on Bakersfield Jam who took over the top spot in the league back then. Mostly there were comments like "Jam is not this good at all" and "This is not for a long". Still 2 months later nothing has changed.
No trades during the season were made to scoop some other team’s top player. Instead front office thought about growing bonds and developing team chemistry. Boosting bench players’ confidence payed off, they were ready to contribute when asked for bigger roles*. And if I’m not mistaken, no player on the roster had been named Performer of the Week, until the very last round (Brian Butch took the title). Everyone from the core that consisted of Jerel McNeal, Renaldo Major, Damion James, Brian Butch and key reserves Stephen Dennis and James Nunnaly, was important. A few NBA assignment guys (Quincy Acy, Mike Scott, Diante Garrett etc.), all helped during their short stints, they fluently molded into the team’s game schemes. It was obvious that guys enjoyed playing with each other and had some pregame rituals developed as well. No hero balls, no ball hogging. That’s not Jam’s style. Coach Will Voigt seemed always to found the right rotations to utilize everybody’s skills the best way possible, for example often playing Dennis and McNeal at the same time, so Jerel could focus on scoring.
No call-ups or injuries had forced them to loose a beat. There was always somebody to fill the gap. Team has showed their character overcoming a 32 point deficit in a W over LA D-fenders. They bounced back in a perfect manner after meltdown in Idaho, beating their bitter rivals Santa Cruz Warriors twice to end the regular season on top. I could continue on and on…
Regardless of what the future/next season may hold, I think every Bakersfield Jam fan is proud of what their team have accomplished this far.
When listening to Jerel McNeal’s first interview as a member of Jazz I felt as if he was a little bit abashed talking about where he just had come from. He really shouldn’t be.
*for more you can read two awesome articles on Stephen Dennis and James Nunnaly here on Ridiculous Upside.com.