D.J. Kennedy may be a talented young gun, a D-League All-Star, and an NBADL champion, but he's not an NBA player.
At least that's what casual basketball fans would find to be true when/if googling the St. John's University alumni's name. Despite catching on (and playing in two games) with the Cavaliers at the end of the 2011-12 season, Kennedy's efforts this past season did not result in an NBA call-up.
No one can say Kennedy didn't put his best foot forward when attempting to prove he deserves another shot in the NBA. He had a very impressive year in the D-League by any standard, leading a playoff push with the Erie BayHawks, before going on to help the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (after getting traded) come out victorious in the D-League Finals later in the season, too.
With NBADL M.V.P. Andrew Goudelock getting called up by the Los Angeles Lakers closer to the postseason, Kennedy proved to be a key previous acquisition. He emerged as a leader for RGV, teaming up with the likes of Glen Rice Jr. and Toure Murry to ultimately bring home the bacon for the Houston Rockets' minor league affiliate.
Such success may not have resulted in an NBA call-up last season, but at least his latest efforts haven't gone to waste. This offseason, former Rockets' Executive Vice President Gerson Rossas joined the Dallas Mavericks as General Manager. To his own credit, Rossas was the man behind Rio Grande Valley's championship win. Assembling the minor league team was part of his duties with Houston.
As it just so happens, Kennedy will in fact spend training camp in Dallas after likely being brought aboard by a familiar face in Rossas.
Over the past two seasons plus, many of Kennedy's counterparts (be it from his professional and/or collegiate career) have gone on to find major success cashing in overseas and playing international ball. Set to turn just 24 years old this coming November, the swingman is instead focused on making things work in The Association.
Kennedy is your classic tweener, which can always turn out being either a blessing or a curse. Without much of a specific position, the young gun is a versatile player who is quick, physically assertive, and can do an array of things right on the basketball court. He can score by driving to the hoop, he can rebound the ball well, and also knows how/when to find his teammates and dish out the rock. He's a talented player with an even better attitude that deserves another shot.
When the pressure was on during Las Vegas Summer League, Kennedy struggled with the Miami Heat. He looked somewhat tense, forcing things when he didn't have to. That said, having to impress the NBA champions during a two week tryout with all eyes on you can, understandably so, be somewhat of a burden for a young gun to take on. There's a whole lot at stake.
Perhaps that's why catching on with the Mavericks comes at quite the opportune time for Kennedy. By following Rossas to Dallas, the swingman already has a supporter in his corner. In the Mavs' new G.M., Kennedy has someone who knows just what he's capable of at his best. What's better than that?
Dallas, like many other teams around The Association, are realizing it's best to simply reel in as much talent as possible and not necessarily worry about specific positions. If a team is talented from A to Z, then the coach's job should be easy when mixing and matching players to figure out which ones mesh well together.
Given how versatile he always proves to be, it goes without saying Kennedy should be able to fit into a lineup in any number of different ways. His still young age makes him a very intriguing prospect, and his two years in the D-League have only furthered his development and maturation.
Perhaps when taking all of this into account, it's worth noting that Dallas could be a very good fit for Kennedy, and vice versa.