Now in the year 2014, approximately 30% of all NBA players have D-League experience.
It's undeniable that some of the more notable players in The Association today (see the likes of Jeremy Lin, Danny Green, and Chris Andersen) have risen up through the ranks of the minor league in recent years. Thus, it's becoming more and more important for fans and big league personnel alike to pay special attention to the talent in the D-League after all.
The NBADL's most promising of prospects strut their stuff each and every night in hopes of getting noticed, catching the eye of an NBA executive, and perhaps earning that oh so coveted big league call-up soon after.
Of course, whereas such D-League athletes hope to catch on with NBA teams for the longterm, there's no doubt any one of them would relish an opportunity to prove themselves regardless, should an NBA team be hit with an injury bug and need someone to fill in instead.
Needless to say, this is one of the more crucial periods for NBA teams to start thinking ahead. Ten-day contracts can now be signed, allowing teams to take a chance and perhaps have a peek at those most intriguing young guns who may be able to step in and help a squad, as many head towards postseason runs.
Taking all of this (and more) into consideration, the RidiculousUpside.com staff (featuring Keith Schlosser, Scott Rafferty, and Dakota Schmidt) is to proud to introduce our Prospect Pyramid, where we rank the minor league's top players at each position.
Without further adieu, here are the centers.
Editor's Note: Santa Cruz Warriors' center Dewayne Dedmon was voted by our staff as number two overall on this list initially. With the news of his expected NBA call-up to the 76ers, another lucky prospect moves up the ladder instead.
1) Hilton Armstrong, Santa Cruz Warriors: An NBA veteran of over 270 contests, Armstrong has continued to make strides, both at the Showcase last week and with Golden State earlier in the season. It's only a matter of time before he reaches that next level yet again.
2013-14 Stats: 14.8 points (55% from the field, 0% from deep), 2.5 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 0.6 steals, and 2.1 blocks
2) Jarvis Varnado, Iowa Energy: It's not everyday you see an NBA champion making the rounds in the D-League. But if Varnado's recent defensive prowess is any indication, he won't be in the minor league much longer.
2013-14 Stats: 14.3 points (50% from the field, 0% from deep), 0.9 assists, 11.7 rebounds, 0.5 steals, and 5.0 blocks
3) Melvin Ely, Texas Legends: One of the elder D-League statesmen, most NBA executives know what to expect from this veteran big man. Still, a 32 point outburst at the Showcase helped him turn some heads in surprising fashion last week.
2013-14 Stats: 17.2 points (61% from the field, 0% from deep), 5.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks
4) Justin Hamilton, Sioux Falls Skyforce: Hamilton's balanced production has been a welcome surprise in Sioux Falls, but what isn't a surprise how well the team is doing because of it. This big man has made quite the impact thus far.
2013-14 Stats: 18.3 points (48% from the field, 37% from deep), 1.5 assists, 8.9 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.9 blocks
5) Brian Butch, Bakersfield Jam: For better or worse, Butch is a well known D-League veteran. Still, a bruiser on defense, Butch also has quite the balanced offensive game as well. You don't see such prowess from a center all too often.
2013-14 Stats: 13.3 points (47% from the field, 38% from deep), 1.8 assists, 10.0 rebounds, 0.6 steals, and 0.6 blocks
6) Ty Walker, Maine Red Claws: Clearly one who enjoys doing the dirty work, Walker is aiming to prove his value to NBA teams by asserting himself as a classic big man who can rebound and anchor his team's defense.
2013-14 Stats: 6.8 points (57% from the field, 0% from deep), 0.8 assists, 7.8 rebounds, and 0.6 steals, and 3.6 blocks
7) Mickell Gladness, Reno Bighorns: What you see is what you get from Gladness. An NBA vet, the big man likes to crash the boards, play solid defense, and has also been becoming more of a low-post threat as of late, too.
2013-14 Stats: 8.7 points (56% from the field, 0% from deep), 0.3 assists, 7.5 rebounds, 0.3 steals and 2.4 blocks