Despite the NBA Development League's regular season coming to a close on Saturday, the D-League call-ups are still coming as Marc Stein reported (while I was watching Snooki on Wrestlemania) that the Philadelphia 76ers have called up Antonio Daniels from the Nancy Lieberman led -- and playoff bound -- Texas Legends.
Daniels, who turned 36 last month, averaged 14.5 points, 8.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds while making 43 percent of his attempted three-pointers in 38 games this season. While those statistics aren't all that impressive, the fact that his Legends (24-26) went 4-8 while he was out with a hand injury in December show how important the NBA veteran was to the expansion franchise.
Daniels was called up to replace Sixers'
rap star point guard Lou Williams due to a hamstring injury. In the Sixers last game, Jrue Holiday played more than 46 minutes, leading to the need to sign an additional point guard (and also leading to everyone to wonder if Evan Turner will be a bigger bust than Hasheem Thabeet. Hint: He won't).
The 12-year-NBA vet and former fourth overall pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 1997 NBA Draft told me earlier this season that he hoped that playing in the D-League would be a quicker avenue to get back to the NBA than playing overseas. While it may not have been quick, the D-League did develop into an NBA call-up.
"Instead of going overseas, playing in China, it's just easier for me to get back to where I'm going -- where I need to be -- by coming to the D-League," Daniels said, noting that his best asset is his leadership. "I've taken being a leader upon myself from day one -- to be the leader, the vocal voice, to do all I can to influence. Basically I'm just trying to lead by example."
Daniels did an excellent job of leading by example, as is obvious from this call-up, and also was able to keep in check what one would have perceived was a team of NBA misfits (fellow former NBA first round picks Joe Alexander, Rashad McCants, Sean Williams, Reece Gaines and Dominique Jones all appeared in games for the Legends this season) by playing his role perfectly as a coach on the floor.
The veteran point guard handled the offense very well, taking what was given to him and not trying to do too much (though there were times early in the year where he'd pound the ball waiting for his first option to get open). He made enough oh his jumpers to keep defenses honest and was able to distribute when his creating own offense wasn't available at a proficient rate as his 3.63 assist-to-turnover ratio led the D-League by quite a wide margin.
As one might expect, a 36-year-old with 867 NBA games under his belt and a recent meniscus surgery (he tore it during the 2009 NBA playoffs with the New Orleans Hornets) didn't look the best on defense in the D-League this season. However, with Andre Iguodala around, that probably wasn't the biggest concern for the Sixers' brass.
This is just the second all-time call-up in Sixers history with Lou Amundson during the 2006-07 season being the only other case.