Welcome to a new feature here on Ridiculous Upside, where we feature the top D-League players who have not been signed to contracts yet, despite the fact that they are, compared to most bench riding minute men, completely awesome. Omitted from this group, two players we obviously think are worthy, Elton Brown and Sean Banks.
#1. Rod Benson:
Ok, here's a little secret. You'd think that with Boom Tho being a blogger, and me being a blogger, and him being on Yahoo! and me hanging around BDL's livechats all damn day, that Boom Tho and I would be buds, right? Wrong. Benson's known as the best D-League interview you can get, and yet not only have I not been able to get a phone interview with him, but whenever I run into him in person, he keeps looking at me out of the corner of his eye like I've got a glass eye and a carving knife in my hand while I hump an inflatable rhino. I'm a twitchy dude. I get that. But it's still weird that the D-League's most marketable "star" and I have little to no relationship. It makes me kind of sad, but that's the way it goes. And whereas a handful of D-League guys, if you mention me, and then prompt them, and then perhaps show them a picture of me twitching, would recognize me. I'm pretty sure Boom Tho has no clue as to who the hell I am. But Holly? Of course he knows Holly. And to be honest, I get a little twerked that he never seems to have time for me. I'm trying to help a guy out, you know? But hey, he's Boom Tho, I'm sure he's got videos with hot girls to shoot or tequila shots to take with Deji Akindele or something. Can't really blame the guy for passing up an opportunity to talk about blogging with me.
Why do I mention all this? Because I don't want you thinking that Benson's number one on this list because he's a blogger with a known name. Do I think that should add to the marketability of signing him to a club? Yeah, but there are much better reasons.
Yes, his upper body hasn't beefed up yet. Yes, his measurement numbers aren't over the moon. And yes, he has a tendency to get lost looking for the block instead of sticking with his man. These are still not good reasons to overcome some facts.
Let's start with numbers. You want to talk about data? How's this.
He was the league leader in rebounds for 07-08. Not bad, right? Except that he beat the next guy BY 150 REBOUNDS.
He was ninth on minutes played, so you know injury's not an issue.
He tied for tenth in blocks with 66, and this on a squad with a big front line.
He's sixth in defensive rating, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
How about Win Shares? Top of the defensive win shares at 9.0, second in Win Shares above average.
One of only two All-D-League players to not have NBA experience yet.
Put simply, this guy does what you want guys from the D-League to do. He doesn't try and score every time with the ball. He doesn't overrate his offensive skills. He doesn't force the issue. And while, yeah, his frame may not be perfect yet for the NBA, his work ethic more than makes up for it. If he's getting this kind of rebound rate with the terrible D-League training regimen, imagine what he'd do with a professional crew helping him in the weight room?
Memphis, we're looking at you.
We keep asking around, trying to figure out what the deal is. Did he kill someone and get away with it? Does he secretly walk around the locker room in a bra? Did he piss on Heisley's convertible? What's the deal? This guy's about to head overseas, and it's a damn shame, Boom Tho or no Boom Tho.
#2 Desmon Farmer
Farmer's a headcase. Or at least he was when he came into the league initially with the Sonics back in 06, playing 6 games before getting yanked again. But at 26, soon to be 27, when you talk to him, you realize he's settled down quite a bit after his time in Rio Grand Valley and Europe. What's more, you're talking about a natural born scorer. The guy lights it up. The Raptors had him on the bench for most of the summer league (sound familiar? I really want to know who in the hell was in charge of minutes for that squad. So I can hit their car with a dump truck), and then in the last game, they thought, "Hell, why not, let's give him some burn."
22 points in 28 minutes, 4 rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Farmer's got such a great set of offensive skills, he's such a ....
Oh, screw it, here's what Todd Mavreles of the The Monitor says about him:
"Farmer is actually a shooting guard who came to the team midway through the season with a reputation of being a high-maintance guy in the locker room. I suspect that's why he's not in the NBA at this point in time. No one can tell me he's not better than those guys the Miami Heat keep calling up from the D-League.
I've been hesistant to say it in print or even on my blog because as a Kobe Bryant fan, it's blasphemy to compare anyone to him, but when Farmer gets hot, it's almost like watching Kobe. You expect every shot to go in, and most times it does. It doesn't matter if he's off-balance, fading away on a jumper into the bench, getting fouled or launching from five feet behind the 3-point line, that ball is splashing through the net. When Farmer is on, the only way to stop him is to deny him the ball and even
that doesn't work sometimes. During his 49-point game against Albuquerque on Friday the Thunderbirds were sending a second defender at him when he was beyond the 3-point line, 23 feet from the basket. And he still found a way to score.
Farmer is also clutch at the free throw line (which comes in handy during close games) and isn't afraid to drive to the basket. I don't think he's had a bad shooting game at home since he's joined the team, so it's kind of a head-scratcher as to why a team like the Heat or the Clippers (he's a USC guy and could get a couple of people to Staples) hasn't given him a 10-day contract. He has played with Seattle and Indiana in the past so he has NBA experience. Maybe it's his defense (sometimes interested) or his reputation, but for whatever reason he should probably have gotten another shot in the league. Maybe next year."
Somebody, for the love of God, take a chance on the guy.
#3: Earl Calloway
Yet another guy that it simply boggles the mind that he hasn't gotten upgraded yet. 5th in PER last year. Tops in offensive win shares. Terrific Summer League.
There's no reason not to sign this guy. From what I hear, he's also a terrific guy and not a headcase. There were concerns about his length, but he's making up for that with renewed intensity and focus on the defensive end. The guy's been lights out, he's efficient, and he's smart. He's the kind of guy you want on your squad. He's smart with the ball. Being able to run an offense and score, but not wanting to dominate the ball is a great thing to have in a backup point.
#4 Carlos Powell
Okay, quick history. Went to University of South Carolina. Played overseas a bunch. Hit the D-League last year. Here's his resume from last season.
Most Field Goals
Most Free Throws
5th in defensive rebounds (6.4 per game)
8th in assists (4.8 per game)
10th in steals (1.4)
1st in Points, 5th in Points per Game
8th in defensive win shares, 6th in overall win shares
He's the kind of guy you can put in, he'll hustle, he'll work, he'll just play ball. That whole "Just a basketball player" phrase you hear bandied about? That's Powell. In the right system, he could be great. He turns 25 in August.
#5. Chris Alexander:
12 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks per game. You want big men that can move, here's a big man that can move. It's as simple as that.