Entering this season, the Bakersfield Jam only found three players on their roster returning from last year. Taking some time to ultimately get things rolling, the team started off the new season at just 1-4. Such early struggles were undoubtedly a disappointment coming from a team that finished in first place last year.
Often times, however, time seems to heal all wounds. Perhaps that's all Bakersfield needed to build up some extra rapport and chemistry across its new-look roster, but they've already bounced back to win their next two games to now stand a bit taller at 3-4.
Of course, more time could have aided Bakersfield, but there's no denying that the team also received an injection of life from recent Atlanta Hawks' assignees John Jenkins and Dennis Schroder.
Having said that, the ever improving squad still happened to receive yet another boost in the form of an additional player as well. NBA D-League All-Star and two-time Nets forward Damion James has returned to Bakersfield after helping pace the team's efforts last season, and they are already beginning to reap the benefits of his late re-arrival.
With the likes of Jenkins and Schroder in town, James emerged to fill a sixth man role this past weekend for the Jam. While it's very possible the forward may return to the starting lineup in due time, the aforementioned role has already seemed to suit him quite well.
Though he's an NBA veteran and was named a minor league All-Star last season, James was never quite one to lead his team in scoring. Instead, he made his mark by consistently filling up the stat-sheet from left to right. As it just so happened, his first two games back were no different.
After returning this weekend, James is so far averaging 11 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1.5 blocks per contest. Though he's only shooting 39% from the field (he shot a similar 41% through 44 games last year), the 26 year old makes sure to do all of the other little things necessary to help his team continue competing throughout a given contest.
While Bakersfield may have other top notch scoring options across the roster, such as players like James Nunnally and Brian Butch, James is there to crash the boards, cause turnovers, make that extra pass, etc.
Needless to say, James won't be force fed the ball to prove he can score 30 points per night. Instead, his across the board efforts are those that will prove to NBA teams that he can make his presence felt alongside the already present offensive juggernauts of The Association. Being able to make an impact in different ways will allow him to prove he belongs.