Alright, I know not everyone's going to agree, so I'd love to hear some feedback on where I made my mistakes. It's tough to rank the top 10 call-ups, as it depends on what a team is looking to get, rather than how good a player is at his best position. It went a bit long, so my analysis is after the jump. UPDATE: Five votes for others? I'm assuming they're for Will Conroy, so I added him in there. Somehow forgot him. He will take the place of Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who had 16 votes before being called-up. I also removed "Other" with seven votes. Who did I miss?
1. James White, Anaheim -- I've recently caught up with some archived Anaheim games, as I felt I must really be missing something with Flight White. Obviously, he's more than an explosive athlete with an attitude problem if he's getting looks from the Knicks. He can get to the rim, he can rip it from deep, and he can 'D' up, thanks to his long arms and ridiculous athleticism. His consistency isn't quite what it should be, but with athleticism, he can off the bench in the NBA and do what's needed, as he won't be relied upon to score the 26 points he's averaging in the D-League. In an interview he recently said "Everybody thinks I have a bad attitude or I'm a bad guy because I show emotion. But that's what fuels me to play, my emotion." Well, I like the emotion and his attitude, by all accounts, seem to have improved tremendously over the past two years. Also, he can also still do this:
White is averaging 25.6 points and over five rebounds per game, shooting 55% from the field.
2. Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Austin -- Pops is killing it at this level, in the box scores anyway. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to watch a full game of his, but in the comments yesterday from Jon L, he noticed that Pops isn't the greatest defender out of the block and he doesn't box out well. The Pops apologist inside tells me that he's already averaging 26.6 points and 13 boards to go with 2.5 blocks, imagine if he starts to apply himself. However, I can't overlook the fact that it doesn't seem as if he's applying himself. Granted, he probably assumes he's not on some of these guys level, but with a guy like Pops, his motor is going to be a big reason for him getting an opportunity.
3. Jawad Williams, Rio Grande Valley -- Jawad can ball. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what position he should be playing. In the D-League, he's starting at the 4, but Erik Daniels plays the 5 in the D-League, so we can't really go by that. His post game is not pretty and perimeter shooting is lacking, regardless if he thinks it's there or not (by that, I mean he thinks it's there, but it's not, from what I've witnessed). Regardless, in the game I watched him, he looked like a basketball player, with a nose for the basket and the willingness to do the little things, two things that will always attract my attention. If the NBA is looking for a hard-nosed dude that can defend, I'm not sure why he hasn't gotten another look since the Cavs.
4. Dontell Jefferson, Utah -- I've said all I can about Jefferson. Although I'm disappointed he didn't work out well enough to earn a spot with the Knicks yesterday, he can ball. Let me refer you to my big post on him for more info.
5. Courtney Sims, Iowa -- Well, I'm learning he's a little timid, which isn't good for a big. Also, it's becoming increasingly apparent that you can take away his left shoulder and the rest of his post game fairly easily. He was also limited to just two rebounds in last night's game while being three inches taller than anyone on the other team. For positives, refer to this post.
6. Demetris Nichols, Iowa -- Nichols is a stud. Syracuse fans know it, Knicks fans love him, and he's even starting to grow on yours truly. Although I wasn't a fan of him in the D-League last year (he stood at the 3-point line and couldn't hit his shots), this year I am a fan (he stands at the 3-point line and hits his shots). The 6'8" small forward, over his past five games, is averaging 22 points, five rebounds and shooting 44% from 3-point land. Along with being a solid defender and having good size out of the 3-spot, I'm not sure what's not to like.
7. Blake Ahearn, Dakota -- Blake's a shooter. Plain and simple. Need a game clinching free-throw? Call Blake. Need a dagger 3-pointer while falling out of bounds to win a preseason game? Call Blake. Although he occasionally racks up the assists (and occasionally the turnovers to go with these) and can get to the line at a ridiculous rate, his calling card is still his shooting stroke. He's shooting 45% from 3-point land and over 95% from the free-throw line. He's averaging 23 points and six assists thus far in the D-League.
8. Richard Hendrix, Dakota -- Hendrix is a beast. A 6'9", 255 pound rookie who was drafted by Golden State though released before NBA action. He's averaging 14 points and 11.5 rebounds, along with nearly two blocks per game. He's got an NBA body and apparently an NBA mind (believe hegraduated from Alabama in three years), but lacks NBA intensity and focus. He occasionally gets lost on the court during offensive sets and doesn't seem to always care what's going on. If he did turn the intensity up, he'd jump about five spots on this list.
9. Walker Russell Jr., Fort Wayne -- Without Eddie Gill in the league, I think he's the best passer hands down right now. He's really improved his stock this season, as I wouldn't have even considered him a call-up candidate before the season started and now, if you're looking for a point guard to run an offense, he's the best in the business (D-League speaking). He's nothing if not consistent, and for Russell, that's a good thing. He's averaging 16 points and over 11 assists per game, along with being fourth in the D-League with 2.4 steals per game.
10. Will Conroy, Albuquerque -- He's recently been dealing with an eye injury and playing the 6'1" 2-guard role, which is never a good thing, but he's certainly got talent. Also there are rumblings of an attitude problem, which doesn't help. More about Conroy here.
11. Mateen Cleaves, Bakersfield -- Cleaves is a flat-out leader, the type of third point guard a team needs. The oldest player on this last, at 31, but he's the type of point guard that gets called up because he's NBA ready. He stuck around Bakersfield during a recent injury as a third coach, even after the Jam had released him. Learning from great basketball minds like Scott Roth and Deane Martin is never going to be a bad thing. It's not going to be his stats that get him called-up, but he's a leader that will come in and run the offense while demanding respect from his teammates. On the season, he's averaging 13 points and eight rebounds.
Next three: Othyus Jeffers, Iowa (Was at Knicks tryout, but really a 6'5" PF); Lance Allred, Idaho (Big man who hasn't been as impressive as he was last year to earn a deal with the Cavs); Josh Davis, Colorado (3/4 combo whose 3-point shot has been failing him lately.)