Jeff Adrien, the 6-foot-7ish Connecticut alum, told the New Haven Register that he's focused on making the NBA next summer.
"Right now, I'm really trying to focus on making the NBA," he said. "I think I have a good chance of making it, either through (training) camp or through the ‘D' league. If I have to go through the ‘D' league route, I'll go through the ‘D' league route. I'm just going to stay focused on making the NBA."
We'll ignore the fact that the newspaper decided to call it the 'D' League instead of the D-League, or even the NBA Development League, because this is pretty good news.
Adrien played with the Orlando Magic in the Orlando Summer League before heading to Vegas to play for the Memphis Grizzlies, acclimating himself well to the talent evaluators in attendance at each leading me to agree with Adrien that he has "a good chance of making it."
Albeit undersized, Adrien makes up for it with his girth - and a propensity for rebounding the ball, staying active and playing within his skill set. In Vegas, for example, Adrien played in four games and amassed 13 offensive rebounds on his way to 34 total boards. His scoring wasn't anything to write home about - 6.5 points per game - but he knows that and probably won't be sidled with any sort of scoring burden in his NBA career, anyway.
Adrien will more than likely end up going to camp with Memphis since they've shown enough interest in him to have in on their Summer League team the past two years, but I'm not sure he'll make the team right out of training camp due to the Grizzlies already employing enough 4/5 options, though it wouldn't surprise me to see him come down and dominate the D-League to get the scouts talking.
Actually, I wrote about that last month!
Adrien would excel in the D-League as a tough 6-foot-7 back-to-the-basket power forward, but that typically doesn't fly in the NBA.
Even though Yo Adrien doesn't have ideal size, he could have a chance at an NBA future if he's able to show that he's still willing to do the dirty work in Orlando. He plays hard, he rebounds well and his post defense is better than you'd think for a player of his stature.
While players like him often excel in the minors, it doesn't always translate to NBA success. The best case study for Adrien would probably be former Colorado 14er Elton Brown. Brown, a burly 6-foot-8 (listed) power forward out of Virginia, excelled for two seasons in the D-League with the Colorado 14ers without being called up despite posting averages of 19 points and 10.5 boards over the course of 91 games.
I fully endorse Adrien trying out the D-League and would love to see a hard working, out-of-the-regular-mold player make it but I think he has work cut out for him.
Then again, he's shown he's not afraid of hard work.