Since our last call-up rankings, James White (#1), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (#2), Dontell Jefferson (#4), and Demetris Nichols (#6) have all been called up, so it's about time we give it another shot. In the meantime, Trey Johnson has returned to the D-League from his call-up. What this means is a semi-drastic changing up of our call-up rankings, as two players have fallen out of the top 10 (Mateen Cleaves, Walker Russell Jr.) meaning quite a few new faces, but still (mostly) familiar to those that follow basketball.
Continue on after the poll to see my reasoning.
1. Trey Johnson, Bakersfield -- Johnson has had two call-ups this season, both with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I don't think it'll be long until he gets his third. Although he didn't get much run with Cleveland, that was probably to be expected on a championship caliber team. In the D-League, however, there aren't many players that can do what he can. Johnson can play anywhere from the point guard to the 3-spot, he can drive to the lane, he can shoot 3-pointers, and he's even starting to get better on defense. In his lone game since being with Cleveland, he scored 26 points, dished seven assists, and turned the ball over just once, shooting 10-for-20 from the field.
2. Blake Ahearn, Dakota -- Ahearn is the best shooter in the D-League, and would rank close to the top in the NBA as well. He has experience with both Miami and San Antonio, and is known for his clutch shooting, whether it be from beyond the arc or at the free-throw line, which he surprisingly gets to with ease (since February, he's made 71 of his 73 free-throw attempts). Over his last 10 games, he's been red hot, shooting 50% from the field and 40% from behind the arc. Though he's not bringing much else to the table, he's great at setting and working off screens, getting himself open. If there's a team that can consistently find an open Ahearn, there won't be much to worry about on the offensive end.
3. Josh Davis, Colorado -- Davis is a player you need to see in person. NBA scouts, if you're not sold on him, call up Chad Andrus, tell him you'll be in Broomfield tonight, and make sure he treats you like a king - Tell him you want the Ben Tenzer treatment. He's a hard worker, got a sweet stroke, is too quick to guard in the post, but too much of a shooter to leave him alone on the perimeter, and as long as he's on the court, you can tell he's working his butt off. Love his game, as he's a tweener, but definitely serviceable as either a small forward or pick-and-pop power forward. Over his past 10 games, he's averaging 21.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and shooting 41% from beyond the arc.
4. Marcus Williams, Austin -- Williams is finally starting to seem as though he likes playing basketball, and wants to make a living doing so. I absolutely love it. He plays the majority of the game and is evolving into the prototypical point-forward, playing the point for about 20 minutes a game. His numbers over the past 10 games aren't bad either, as he's averaging 26.5 points, 6.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds, shooting a respectable 45% from the field. The fact that he's just 22 years old and has a few years of professional basketball experience doesn't hurt either.
5. Jawad Williams, Rio Grande Valley -- Jawad is a physical specimen that will eventually probably be able to carve out a spot for himself on an NBA roster solely because of that. That is, if he can ever find himself a position. Some days he decides he's a wing, others, he's a post. Some games he relies on work around the basket, other games he jacks up 10 3's, seemingly without rhyme or reason. Regardless, he's definitely worthy of a pick-up, as he's a North Carolina guy, which obviously means he does the little things (except, for some reason, rebound). The 6'9" tweener is currently averaging 24.6 points over nine games in the D-League.
6. Othyus Jeffers, Iowa -- Jeffers is a guy you've never heard of, and that's disappointing, as he's probably this seasons best kept secret. Jeffers didn't start a game until mid-January, but since he's been inserted into the starting lineup, he's been very impressive. Watching his last couple games, I'm not sure there's a better defender in the D-League now that Dontell Jefferson has been called-up. He's the definition of "pesky". He's got a great story behind him, and whenever he steps on the court, it's not hard to tell that he's had to work for everything he's achieved thus far in life and is still working just as hard. In 15 games as a starter, the 6'5" 2/3 out of Robert Morris (NAIA) is averaging 22.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game, shooting 54% from the field.
7. Richard Hendrix, Dakota -- I've said it before, we'll say it again: Hendrix is a beast. Hendrix is a 6'9", 255 pound rookie that was drafted by Golden State, though released before NBA action. Hendrix is leading the league in rebounding, and since February, he's averaging 14.7 points and 13.2 rebounds. He's got an NBA body and apparently an NBA mind (graduated from Alabama in three years), but lacks intensity while out on the court. Sometime it seems as he doesn't always care what's going on. He also sat out last game with a strained calf, which wouldn't be scary to any team unless they were to call-up a player today.
8. Courtney Sims, Iowa -- Jeffers teammate at Iowa has had two call-ups this season, but wasn't able to stick in Phoenix. Sims is fourth in the league in scoring (22.5) and second in rebounds (10.7), but I don't think too many teams are in need of a big man currently. Also, and this is probably more of the case of me focusing on him more as he's been putting up big numbers, but he's got a few noticeable flaws - No post moves if you take away his left shoulder, rarely goes up strong, and a seeming attitude problem. He's got many positives, and I've sung his praises plenty, but I just couldn't find myself placing him any higher than this.
These last two players, while I don't feel they will get a call-up, their numbers make them impossible to ignore.
9. Will Conroy, Albuquerque -- His attitude just scares me, and, apparently, NBA scouts. Plus, I just don't see the NBA looking for a 6'1" slashing guard that averages 4.3 turnovers per game. Over his last ten games, his scoring has went up, but so have his turnovers, and his assists have fallen. This isn't what the NBA is looking for, unfortunately. As has always been the case in the minors, the scouts look for everything but scoring, and as the season goes on, and Conroy gets more frustrated about not getting a call-up, his scoring has increased. If the NBA was looking solely for scoring point guards with high turnover rates, he would have been called-up long ago, as he's led the D-League in scoring all season.
10. Erik Daniels, Erie -- Daniels is playing out of position at the center (which he'd never be able to play in the NBA), but I just can't argue with the numbers any longer. The 6'8" wingman is leading the league in double-double's and is consistently flirting with a triple-double. He's much quicker than any other center in the D-League, and he's crafty, but his D-League game just doesn't translate to the NBA. Regardless, he deserves the mention, as he's averaging 20.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 7.4 assists over his past 10 games. He is working on his shooting, but he should probably be jacking the 3's up in practice, rather than during the games. Over his past 10 games, he's made just eight of his 33 3-point attempts (a 24% clip). Ouch.
Guys I would have liked to include (But why I didn't): Walker Russell, Fort Wayne (4.9 turnovers on 3-7 team last 10 games, 41% from the field); Jasper Johnson, Albuquerque (Impressive numbers, but he's 6'7", at least 270 pounds, needs to get in better shape or taller); Derrick Byars, Bakersfield (Solid, not spectacular); Eddie Gill, Colorado (Watching the last Colorado game, it looks like he has nothing left in the tank); Dominique Coleman, Colorado (Impressive numbers, but I'm thinking they're a product of the system?); Chris Hunter, Fort Wayne (rebounds are dropping, don't think three bigs get called up); Kasib Powell, Sioux Falls (MVP last season battling injuries this season)