Just midway through the second month of the basketball season, the NBA and its D-League have seen an unprecedented amount of call-ups and player assignments.
Such call-ups are undoubtedly in correlation with the immense amount of promising talent present in the minors. But the assignments themselves come down to meaningful trust.
As NBA teams form direct affiliations with NBADL squads, new bonds are formed as well. These said minor league affiliates embrace the big league team's mentality and culture. Doing so makes the D-League squad simply a further extension of the other.
A great example of how two squads can seamlessly work together, the Rockets have put together a steady and ever qualified staff in place in Rio Grande Valley with the Vipers. What's more, both staffs are in constant contact, with the main goal remaining helping their various players grow and flourish into NBA contributors.
The likes of Terrence Jones, Donatas Montiejunas, and Scott Machado have all been sent to the D-League already this season, and it's a trend that appears set to continue. But make no mistake: such an assignment is anything but a demotion.
Instead, the Rockets' organization hopes to provide its rookies with some great opportunities that will, without a doubt, aide each of them in their individual development.
In part two of RidiculousUpside.com's interview with Rockets Vice President of Basketball Operations, Gersson Rosas, (here's part one to review) the executive discusses each rookie's progress, and the strategy behind their assignments. For more, read on below.
Q: As we talk about specific player development, what can you tell me about the progress Terrence Jones and Donatas Montiejunas are making with the D-League Vipers?
A: Terrence Jones is a very special player with a lot of physical tools and good talent base. Both he and Donatas Montiejunas are guys who have played at high levels. Terrence won an NCAA title at Kentucky, and Donatas played at a high level in Europe last season. Both of those guys are very close to playing in the NBA, but we have a lot depth with the Rockets, so they just haven't had the opportunity to play yet.
Q: How does the progress of Scott Machado compare to his fellow rookies?
A: Machado is a different case than the other two players. He was undrafted, and being a point guard, he's at the toughest position to make the transition from college to the NBA. We're investing a lot of time and effort in allowing him to run the team.
We want him to do a good job of running the offense, making good plays, and putting teammates in the right spots to be successful. Improving on the other side of the ball as a defender is important too. In the D-League, Scott is put in the position to become a better defender as well. It comes down to learning how to better defend pick and rolls, be a consistent defensive rebounder, and just understand the game from both ends. It's about developing into a guy who can make an impact as a backup point guard.
Q: Is sounds like these guys being able to hit the hardwood is a big benefit of the NBADL in the eyes of the Rockets' organization.
A: Competition is good. And when the players are in the D-League, members of our Rockets staff are monitoring them to see what they need to continue doing as they progress towards getting into the rotation. A lot of that, for young players, comes down to consistency, defense, and attention to detail. Our young guys are working on those things in practice and workouts, but when we put them in the NBADL, it gives them an opportunity to apply what they've learned in game situations.
We treat specific assignments on a game-by-game basis, but if our roster is healthy and there's not currently a chance for these younger guys to play, we'll send them to RGV so that they don't lose their conditioning or rhythm.
It's hard for young players, because these guys are coming from college or Europe, where they are used to playing thirty plus minutes. Coming here and playing limited minutes is difficult. It's hard to play a five-minute stretch in a game while expecting to play the way you normally do. That's the challenge young players have when entering the NBA and looking to establish themselves. We feel like the D-League gives them the advantage of continuing to play, while at the same time, working on any weaknesses.