Rob Kurz has beeen called-up to the Chicago Bulls, taking the roster spot of Jerome James, who has been released.
The 6-foot-9 Kurz averaged 17.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks this season for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants while shooting 49% from the field, 44% from the 3-point line and 81% from the free-throw line.
Needless to say, there are some things most would expect from that line (good scoring, high percentage shooting), but there are also some things that nobody that watched Kurz as a Golden State Warrior last season would expect, mainly the 10-plus rebounds along with a block and a half per game. That, right there, is precisely why the D-League Blogosphere named him the Most Improved Player of the 2009-2010 NBA Development League season.
While he made the Golden State Warriors as a rookie based on his pick-and-pop shooting abilities, and... well, that's about it, his game rounded out quite a bit in the D-League this season. While he's still a shooter (as the percentages above will tell you), he learned how to play in the post this season as well as crash the boards - and even play defense!
I'd be mistaken if I didn't give at least partial credit for this call-up to the Fort Wayne coaching staff. Head coach Joey Meyer has developed plenty of NBA players in his day (most recently Ramon Sessions) and his assistants have seemingly done a remarkable job as well. Anytime two former NBA players (Mike Sanders and Vitaly Potapenko) as well as up-and-coming Steve Gansey are working to improve their own standings by working to improve their players, good things are going to happen.
The rest of the credit goes to
me for pimping him on a near-daily basis to the 19 readers of Ridiculous Upside Kurz for actually developing in the Development League. I've written about it time and time again, but let me rehash my thoughts for those of you that aren't part of the Rob Kurz Hype Train.
After the Warriors let Kurz walk at the end of his rookie season, he took part in a number of opportunities this off-season (Orlando Summer League with the 76ers/Nets combined team, Vegas Summer League with the TWolves, preseason with the Cavs). After none of those jobs pannned out, however, he came to the D-League and has worked on becoming something more than just a shooter. And it worked.
The biggest improvements are:
He can score in the post! Kurz scored at one of the highest rates in the D-League when it came to the low post, averaging 1.09 points per possession, good for the 88th percentile according to an end of season scouting report I obtained from Synergy Sports. More telling, though, is that he spent over 20% of his time in the post. While that doesn't seem like a high percentage, the only thing he does more than doing work in the post is spot-up shooting (24%).
He can rebound! Kurz averaged 10.1 rebounds per game. While that might not blow your mind, it was the top average left in the D-League. It feels weird for me to say, but Rob Kurz was the best available rebounder in the NBA Development league.
He can play defense! Well, he doesn't suck at defense, anyway. He'll at least give it a good effort and even swat some shots along the way. Go Rob!
- He can still shoot! I know I mentioned it earlier, but it probably bears mentioning again. Kurz has hit 44% of his shots from beyond the arc and 51% from inside the arc.
- He has sweet highlight videos from his time with Golden State. Okay, so the highlights were pretty much just jump shots, and it was only a singular video, but the music was sweet. If anyone ever makes a highlight video of me, I prefer it to be set to a Macho Man Randy Savage diss track. Don't believe me? See for yourself!