Today we're looking at the Eastern Conference playoff teams and which D-Leaguers they should call up. I'll be honest; I wrote up the East second because I wanted to give the five teams at the bottom of the playoff picture a few more days to sort themselves out. That didn't really work out, with Chicago, Charlotte, New York, Jersey and Indiana all within four and a half games of each other, so I went ahead and analyzed the whole lot of them. The more the merrier, etc. For an explanation of how this works and a look at who I think the Western Conference teams should call up, check out part 1. And again, feel free to put any disagreements or other suggestions in the comments.
Another team where it's hard to find a glaring weak spot, as their bench has been very effective this year. A big man probably wouldn't see much time, given that Mike Brown seems to prefer cycling three players through the 4 and 5 spots. Initially I thought a guard more likely here to help Daniel Gibson spell the starters, but that was before Szczerbiak got hurt. Now they definitely need another scorer, so why not give Trey Johnson and his positional flexibility another look?
The Celtics had some noticeable weaknesses earlier in the season, but they ostensibly addressed those after the trade deadline by signing Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury. I'm not that high on the Moore signing, and between him, Powe, Davis and starters Garnett and Perkins that's a crowded frontcourt. Still, they've also had a lot of injuries up front, and they need someone to help them get through the end of the season without Paul Pierce playing center. I initially went with Lance Allred here, but Pierce is playing big minutes at a time they should probably start resting him a bit, so instead Josh Davis gets the call. He's mainly a PF, but can play enough 3 to keep Bill Walker and his apparent desire to use all six fouls on the bench.
Stan Van Gundy appears content to go with Anthony Johnson as a backup PG. A defensive specialist to matchup with LeBron James? Maybe, though they've done pretty well on defense so far this year. And by "pretty well" I mean they've been excellent. I originally had Marcus Williams coming to Orlando to serve as their "backup point forward" behind Turkoglu, but in the end New Orleans had a bigger need than the Magic, and Williams isn't enough of a three-point shooter to fit into that offense. Anthony Johnson is still Anthony Johnson, so how about single-season three-point record holder Blake Ahearn?
They're pretty set up front and they're "set" for backup guards with Flip Murray and Acie Law. With Marvin Williams out for awhile, though, I'll go in the wing direction, where Mario West has started to pick up more playing time, which isn't good for anybody. Additionally, offensive rebounding is a problem for the Hawks, both doing it and preventing it, so why not call up the best offensive rebounding wing in the D-League, Othyus Jeffers.
This one's a relatively easy one. The Heat need either a backup point guard or a backup center. In the end, though, I like their options at PG (Chris Quinn, Luther Head, Daequan Cook) just slightly more than their options at the pivot (Joel Anthony and the tattered remains of Jamaal Magloire). Unfortunately, the D-League only has so many centers and there are several playoff teams that could use one. Miami, say hello to Rod Benson. Fourth among centers in steals per 48 minutes (who play at least 20 a game), second in blocks per 48 minutes and in block/foul ratio, mostly efficient scoring...yeah, that'll work.
This is a team that like Houston, Atlanta and Chicago, needs another player less than they need more production out of the players they have. Still, another center would be helpful for nights that Theo Ratliff remembers how old he is. Let's see, a center in the Philly mold of blocks, rebounds and not much else...sounds like Kurt Looby to me.
This is the one that stumped me the most. I initially thought they were set at guard, because Michael Curry's plan was to give Iverson some PG minutes, but then Iverson started missing games with a bad back, but then again Will Bynum started playing decently for them. Now I'm torn as to whether they need a swingman or a big. I'm tempted to go with the latter, because Kwame Brown somehow gets minutes for them and Rasheed Wallace has some calf muscle issues, but I think that's more a matter of Curry inexplicably believing Kwame can produce reliably and less about them not having other options. (Yes, I'm a Washington Wizards fan. Why do you ask?) And yet, it seems like they're sticking with Walter Herrman as the backup small forward, otherwise I would've selected David Noel here. I ended up stealing Chris Hunter away from another team. When his shot is on he can score from all over, and while he's not a great rebounder, he's adequate, and Detroit has plenty of guys who can help in that department.
Vinny Del Negro's rotation remains...a work in progress, so no matter who they call up he probably wouldn't be used properly. With Luol Deng hurting the Bulls could use a small forward to give Salmons a break, or another big to slot in front of Aaron Gray. Jawad Williams is versatile enough to give the Bulls what they might need on any given night, be it an off night from Tyrus Thomas or an off night from Gordon or an off night from Hinrich or a regular night from Tim Thomas.
The Bucks need another defensive-minded big man to match with their bench scorers and to keep Joe Alexander in limited minutes. Kurt Looby would've also worked here, or Rod Benson (though Scott Skiles's boom tho-ness is questionable). I think Milwaukee should call up Herbert Hill. He's turned his production up in the last few weeks, averaging four blocks and 10 rebounds a game from March 12-17. He's more of a project, and is a bit undersized at 6'8", but he'd be an intriguing look for a team currently relying on Dan Gadzuric and Francisco Elson. UPDATE: I have been informed that Hill was released for injury reasons. Unfortunately I'm pretty much out of decent big men. Since I laid out the criteria of a defensive-minded guy, well, Cheikh Samb is available.
Alexis Ajinca just got sent to Sioux Falls for not playing defense to Larry Brown's liking, and in his place the Bobcats called up stellar defensive guard Dontell Jefferson. Additionally, they have several players who can slot at multiple positions; Diaw, Radmanovic, Bell if you want to stretch things. That gives them a little more flexibility to make room for another SF, so with Ajinca's reprimand in mind how about defensive whiz Ron Howard?
Maybe the easiest "need" call of the bunch. Devin Harris is out for while, so need = point guard. You know it, I know it, Moltar know it, Zorak know it, Tansut know it, Brak know it, Lokar know it. Anyway, as Scott has said, Eddie Gill is the obvious choice. He provides the "quick fix" they're looking for and this won't be his first time on the Nets roster.
I had the Knicks calling up a point guard for awhile, given Chris Duhon's back problems, but then they went ahead and did my job for me by calling up Courtney Sims. I'm glad they did, too, because I had a hard time finding a good fit for Sims among the playoff teams. Both David Lee and Al Harrington are hurting to varying degrees, and while Sims' per 48 rebounding numbers aren't as solid as his per games, he's been the second-best defensive rebounder in the D-League (after Richard Hendrix, no shame there), which should help Mike D'Antoni's team start the break. He also has the best FG and FT percentages among centers, so he can finish in ways that, say, Cheikh Samb couldn't.
Yet another one for the "they just need everyone to be a little better/healthy" category. Mike Dunleavy is done for the year and Granger missed three weeks with a foot injury, so another forward would fill in some of the lost production and/or let the team get healthy would be welcome. Between Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert and Jeff Foster they could stand to get a little less stiff, so congratulations Pacers; you're calling up slasher Ronald Dupree.