Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson told the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday that his Warriors are looking for a small forward. Luckily for Mr. Nelson, the D-League has a bevy of wings and I'm in the spirit of breaking down the best the D-League has to offer, position by position (bigs here, point guards here).
With the point guards, I decided to look outside of the D-League, just because there aren't many NBA worthy players running D-League teams currently. The D-League is a wing-dominated league, however, so this breakdown is going to be exclusively focused on such.
Also, to air a grievance of mine, why is Don Nelson looking for a "small forward?" It seems to me that these positions are so antiquated, it's absurd to consider there to be five separate positions on the floor. Can we all agree to go with point guards, wings, combo forwards and bigs? It only eliminates one position, but it'd make me a lot happier.
Morris Almond (6'5", 210 - 28 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 48% FG, 26% 3pt) - Offensively, he's a freak of nature. He can't run the pick and roll, but he's money from everywhere else. Seriously, hardly a flaw in his offensive game. Defensively, he's, well, not good at all. Hopefully he improves on this side of the ball because he's really a first-class offensive player, but it's painfully irritating to watch him on defense. Still, Free Mo Almond!
Antonio Anderson (6'6", 215 - 17.5 ppg, 6.9 apg, 4.4 rpg, 46% FG) - Anderson is more of a big combo-guard, but I don't think Nelson would be making a bad decision by calling up the rookie defensive stopper out of Memphis. He began his senior season as the starting point guard for Memphis last year, but got shifted back to the wing when Tyreke Evans took over. I tell you that because there is a possibility that he could be an emergency point guard or provide a different look with Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis in the game. Anderson's game on offense is best either in transition or in the pick 'n' roll, mostly because his jump shot needs a bit of fixing - it's not as broke as I am, but it's hurting. On defense, he can guard the best perimeter scorer, regardless of position, and guard them well. Steve Weinman of D-League Digest just did a pretty good breakdown of Anderson last week, so for a more in-depth rundown on Anderson, check this post out.
Romel Beck (6'7, 195 - 16.8 ppg, 49% FG) - Beck just seems like a Warrior to me - oddly, I'm not sure that's a good thing. He's had his minutes jerked around a bit in the D-League (32 mpg) due to what looks to be occasionally porous defense and lapses in effort, but the guy is probably the best scorer in the D-League. Beck is probably most famous for the Kobe Crossover, but he's actually got a good amount of different ways he gets to the basket. His 3-point shot isn't quite where it should be, but aside from that, he's an offensive juggernaut. Defensively, he never seems to put forth all that much effort, and he's not amazing without the ball, but whoa! Offense.
Desmon Farmer (6'5, 210 - 25.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.6 rpg, 44% FG, 39% 3pt, 4.2 TO/g) - There's a reason Farmer's played in 113 D-League games, and it's not because he's constantly developing. He's left handed, which can be a good thing (most of the top D-League bloggers are left-handed), but it's a bad thing when you may as well tie your right hand behind your back because it's not getting used (ask my high school basketball coach). Farmer's fourth in the D-League in turnovers per game with the next non-point guard being Joey Dorsey - Having worse handles than Joey Dorsey is "a problem", as they say. Still, he's averaging amazing statistics, so he should get a call-up. Right? Not necessarily. Still, Desmon Farmer!
Alonzo Gee (6'6, 220 - 20.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 52% FG) - It's no surprise that Gee was the first round pick of the San Antonio-owned Austin Toros after he played with the Spurs in Vegas this Summer - they like him. And typically, if the Spurs like somebody, he's probably a good basketball player, so I'm keeping him on the short list of call-up candidates. Gee is actually hitting the spot up jumper fairly well in the D-League, which was an area of concern at Alabama. Add that to his overpowering iso play and boom, you've got an NBA player. Defensively, he's hovering right around good enough for the Warriors, but I think if he focused on defense, he could do it. I know unfocused D-League play probably won't translate all that well to the NBA, but Gee's got it. He may not "get it", but he's got it.
Trey Gilder (6'9, 185 - 23 ppg, 6 rpg, 64% FG since Billy Walker was called back up to the Celtics) - Gilder's played in a small sample size of D-League action this year, so I'm going to point you toward Jon L's profile of his season last year. I'm not sure what one area Gilder's calling card is (probably defense), but he's got NBA-caliber intangibles. After coming off the bench for the D-League champion Colorado 14ers last season, he earned an invite to play for the Memphis Grizzlies this past Summer. Though he didn't excel in the Summer League, he got an invite to play the preseason with them. While he still didn't excel with them in the preseason, he made the regular season roster. He was eventually cut, but it shows he has NBA talent. Essentially all of that was to say that I can't really pinpoint why I like Gilder, but he rarely disappoints when he's on the floor.
Ron Howard (6'5, 200 - 22.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 47% FG, 45% 3pt) - Howard is one of those guys that the D-League has really helped improve - He's went from making the Fort Wayne Mad Ants two years ago via open tryout to playing the past two pre-season's in the NBA (Milwaukee, then New York). Granted, he hasn't played a lick of meaningful NBA action, but the kid can play. He's best at getting to the basket and drawing contact, though he's also added a 3-pointer to the mix, hitting 18 of his 40 shots from beyond the arc this season after going 0-for-16 the past two seasons - still, his mid-range game has yet to impress. Defensively, he's one of the better wing defenders on this list. Not that that''s saying much, but still, I like him.
Cartier Martin (6'7, 220 - 18.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 47% FG, 46% 3pt) - Martin is probably the favorite for this spot, but I don't necessarily think he's the best option. Elie Seckbach likes him though, so that should be a good enough reason to like him as well. There's also the fact that he averaged 19.7 points and 4.3 boards for the Warriors Summer League entry out in Vegas, but his defense wasn't great and it wasn't hard to tell he was trying to fill the box score more than put in any sort of team effort (Warriors may coach this, I guess?). Martin probably would have went to camp with the Warriors this year with a chance to make the team had he not signed overseas mid-Summer League. I thought that was an odd decision, but it'll pay off if he gets this call-up after picking up some spending money in Italy.
Carlos Powell (6'7, 225 - 23.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.8 apg, 52% FG, 2 spg, 2.5 TO/g) - Powell is also going to be a familiar face to Warriors fans, as he was with the Warriors in training camp two seasons ago. To catch you up, since then he's dominated the D-League (twice) and nearly made the Phoenix Suns this Summer. On offense, he's a big, physical presence that rarely settles for a jump shot, often getting to the rack (40 points last night, for what it's worth). On defense, he's not going to stand out, but he won't hurt his team, either. In the interest of full disclosure, Powell has a reputation as not being the greatest teammate in the D-League, but that shouldn't be anything new in Golden State, and thus, shouldn't hold him back from a spot with the Dubs.
Reggie Williams (6'6, 210 - 26.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 60% FG, 47% 3pt) - Williams is my favorite player to watch from this selection, and thus, my favorite for the Golden State Warriors call-up. He led the nation in scoring twice while playing at VMI and is second only to Almond in the D-League thus far this season. He's not just a scorer, however. Williams isn't exceptional at anything, but he really seems to get it - he does whatever it takes and plays within his limitations, which is actually a compliment. Offensively, his jump shot has improved immensely, which, not surprisingly is why he's shooting 60% from the field. He also gets out and runs very well, which would fit perfectly in Golden State. Defensively, he's not exceptionally quick, but he's long enough and crafty enough that he's not going to kill a team defensively.