I've made a few oblique references this offseason to all of the D-League three-point shooters who will be playing overseas this year, and it's true that there will be some unfamiliar faces jacking up perimeter shots next month. But it's actually even more remarkable than I thought. Heres is the list of last year's D-League award winners:
MVP - Courtney Sims
Defensive POY - Brent Petway
Impact POY - Eddie Gill
Rookie of the Year - Othyus Jeffers
Coach of the Year - Quin Snyder
Sportsmanship Award - Will Conroy
Notice anything? With the exception of perhaps Sims, all of the players listed above are playing overseas (and RU's Coach of the Year pick, Bryan Gates, is in the NBA now). True, one of them could come back midseason (and be in the running for the Impact award), but those are still some relatively big names missing. It gets even more drastic than that. Here are the All D-League teams:
First: Blake Ahearn, Will Conroy, Erik Daniels, Courtney Sims, Marcus Williams
I expect Williams to join back up with the Toros, and we're still waiting to see what Sims will do, but Ahearn, Conroy and Daniels are all overseas now.
Second: Derrick Byars, Josh Davis, Chris Hunter, Trey Johnson, James White
Hunter's back in Fort Wayne, but Byars - gone; Davis - gone; Johnson - gone; White - gone.
Third: Lance Allred, Ronald Dupree, Eddie Gill, Dontell Jefferson, Cartier Martin
Jefferson is back with Utah but I would expect a call-up for him at some point this season (the defense is too good). Otherwise, they're all in Europe and elsewhere. And while I won't bother listing all of the honorable mentions, by my count less than half of them are with the D-League again this year.
So what's the point of this? Change, and lots of it. Sure it will be disappointing not to see these talented players, but I prefer to see it as a crisi-tunity. With training camps underway and the regular season starting in just two weeks, a lot of players will have a chance to make their mark on the D-League. Some of them we can probably guess - expect Marcus Williams to tear it up again until he gets called up, Garrett Siler should be one of the best big men in the league and Carlos Powell and Anthony Tolliver should both fill up the box scores. But just as likely is that we can't predict right now who's going to make those 2009-2010 All-D-League teams. It could be someone like Amara Sy, who started his career off promisingly in Europe; or Reggie Williams, who was a smart, crafty scorer in college; heck, it could even be Yaroslav Korolev (it probably won't be Yaroslav Korolev).
All this turnover at the top of the league, talent-wise, is both likely a little daunting for the league and a pretty exciting development for D-League watchers. Teams are busy right now sorting out who can play and who can't, then it will be our turn.