From D-League Stints To The NBA Playoffs: A Number Of Guards Showcased Their Abilities In Round One

USA TODAY Sports

In the first round of the NBA Playoffs, a number of guards stepped up and provided their teams with an extra lift. However, these guards weren't the typical household names fans expected to see, and a number of them recorded stints in the NBA D-League this past season on their way to shining this postseason.

Depth is crucial at this point in the season, as NBA teams battle through injuries and continue on with their postseason runs. The injury bug presented a number of players, specifically guards who spent a portion of this past season in the NBA D-League, with opportunities to showcase their talents.

Unfortunate injuries to Russell Westbrook, Jeremy Lin, Steve Blake and Steve Nash opened the door for the likes of Reggie Jackson, Patrick Beverley, and Andrew Goudelock to play significant playoff minutes. Cory Joseph and Darius Morris also played critical roles for their teams in the first round as well. Which of these guards with NBADL stints to their name made the largest impact? Check out our rankings below.

1. Reggie Jackson (Oklahoma City Thunder)

The former first round draft pick in 2011 played a significant role in helping the Thunder escape an early upset against Houston. In six games and four starts, Jackson averaged 14.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 30.0 minutes. In the series clinching win on Friday, Jackson recorded a season-high 8 assists as he helped guide the Thunder into the second round.

Jackson spent three games in the NBADL back in December, and averaged 28.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 8.3 assists for the Tulsa 66ers. His ability to distribute the ball while limiting turnovers is a quality that Jackson showcased in the D-League, but also in the playoffs thus far. Jackson's high-energy style will be counted on in the next round, as the Thunder face Memphis and their impressive backcourt. So far, Jackson has held his own and looks to be improving with each game.

2. Patrick Beverley (Houston Rockets)

Beverley stepped in and provided the Rockets with a completely different look and added toughness during their playoff series against OKC. Beverley certainly earned every minute of his six games for the Rockets during the first round. From Russia to the D-League, Beverley capitalized on his opportunity to show fans and NBA brass that he is more than capable of producing at the NBA level.

Beverley started in five of the Rockets' six playoff games after Jeremy Lin was sidelined with an injury. The former Arkansas Razorback averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33.3 minutes. In both of Houston's wins against OKC, Beverley scored in double-digits and averaged 38.0 minutes.

In January, like so many players on the Rockets roster, Beverley had a three game stint with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. During those three games, the 6-1, 185 pound guard averaged 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in 37.3 minutes. Beverley surely increased his stock despite coming up short in the first round.

3. Andrew Goudelock (Los Angeles Lakers)

Goudelock won the NBA D-League MVP and started in an NBA Playoff game all on the same day for the Los Angeles Lakers. As unique of a situation as that was, Goudelock put together two solid starts for the Lakers after dominating the D-League all season-long. The "Mini Mamba" led all scorers in the first half of his second game in the 2013 postseason, and went on to score 20 points in 41 minutes.

Goudelock's play forced the announcers to drop tidbits about the "D-League" during his playoff run with L.A., but along with the Lakers' season, Goudelock fell short of getting his team past San Antonio despite his spirited effort.

During Goudelock's 52 games in the NBADL this past season, the instant offense-guard averaged 21.1 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.9 rebounds in 37.1 minutes. In addition to winning the D-League's Most Valuable Player award, Goudelock's highly publicized run with the Lakers this postseason plugged him in the minds of NBA executives heading into the offseason.

4. Darius Morris (Los Angeles Lakers)

Unlike the aforementioned Goudelock's situation, Morris played heavy minutes in the Lakers series with the Spurs, but was more of a familiar face to fans. Morris played in 48 games this season, and started in 17 of those contests, he averaged 4.0 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 14.2 minutes.

In the first round, Morris was asked to play more due to a depleted Lakers' backcourt, and the former two-year Michigan Wolverine raised the level of his game. In four games, Morris averaged 10.5 points, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 rebounds in 26.3 minutes, nearly double the amount of playing time he was used to in the regular season.

The steady 6-4, 190 pound guard was assigned three times and played in two games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders earlier this year. Through both games with the D-Fenders, Morris averaged 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.0 steal. Each game that Morris played in the D-Fenders won.

5. Cory Joseph (San Antonio Spurs)

The Canadian born Joseph averaged 4.5 points, 3.0 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 14.3 minutes for the Spurs in their first round sweep of the Lakers. The Spurs organization has done a masterful job in allowing Joseph to develop his game with multiple assignments to their D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros. It has allowed head coach Gregg Popovich to have confidence in Joseph for this playoff run.

Joseph has been no stranger to the NBADL in his first two seasons, and this year spent 26 games (26 starts) with the Austin Toros. Perhaps the familiarity with the league, and it's competition has enabled Joseph to excel during his stints with the Toros. Joseph averaged 19.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 38.5 minutes this season.

As the Spurs continue to go deeper in the playoffs, look for Joseph to contribute efficiently during his time on the court, and perhaps increase upon his totals from round one.

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