The Springfield Armor struggled in the early season, compiling a 9-21 record at the All-Star break. However, a mid-season trade with the Maine Red Claws that saw them acquire former Celtic second-round draft pick Kris Joseph led to four consecutive wins to open the second half of the season, giving the Armor hope for a playoff spot.
In eight games with Springfield since the February 11th trade that also sent James Mays to Maine, Joseph is averaging 23.6 points per contest. The 6'7" shooting guard from Syracuse has been shooting 40% from three-point territory, 82.4% from the free throw line and averaging 2.2 steals per contest during that time. He's scored 20-plus points in six of those eight games, which resulted in a 5-3 run by the Armor.
The 24-year-old has been arguably the best shooter in the league since his change of scenery. He has the ability to catch-and-shoot well from both wings. Joseph will slash to the rim at times, forcing defenders to give him space to shoot the three. Since his February 20th debut versus Idaho, the guard has gone 18-of-43 from three-point range.
Selected 51st overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Celtics, Joseph appeared in six games. He made his NBA debut on November 2nd against the Bucks, but was assigned by Boston to Maine five separate times.
Joseph played 12 games with Maine, scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting in his lone game against Springfield in early February. Currently ranked fifth amongst D-League players by NBA.com, Joseph has a solid shot at a call-up this spring. He could provide a team with a three-point shooter who is capable of scoring in droves.
The recent play of Joseph, along with the strong play of Brooklyn Nets assignee Toko Shengelia (currently with the NBA team) has overshadowed the play of several other Armor players hoping for a late-season call-up. Shengelia is averaging 26.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5 assists in six games (three separate stints) with Springfield this year.
Post player Willie Reed has had a solid season, despite being under-the-radar and in the shadow of the higher profile Joseph and Shengelia. The 22-year-old has averaged 17.8 points per contest since the trade of fellow post player Mays last month. He is averaging 14.5 points and 6.8 points per contest on 53% shooting from the field on the season. Reed also has a streak of 19 consecutive games scoring double digit points.
The 6-foot, 9-inch forward is a defensive-oriented post player with a frame that resembles a younger (shorter) Patrick Ewing. He is very physical in defending the post, bumping the offensive player off the first-marker, and fighting for early position. Reed is also very active in contesting shots in the paint and is in good position defensively.
The big man shows a right-hand hook shot with good extension as his "go to" move. Reed is a good passer out of the post and sees the floor well. His mid-range shooting and free throws need a lot of work though. Reed has been a solid defensive rebounder, but still has room for improvement. He is continuing to improve on the offensive end and needs to further his development in that area.
Armor guard Ben Uzoh and forward Dennis Horner are both players with recent NBA experience, but both have areas in which they can improve if they want another shot in the NBA.
The 24-year-old Uzoh is a defensive-oriented point guard with a frame similar to Marcus Banks. The point guard, averaging 13.4 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per contest, has good anticipation skills and quick feet, but will sometimes take possessions off.
Uzoh is a good ball-control point guard and changes speeds well, but puts his head down too often and will force too much. Uzoh needs improvement as a shooter - both from the mid-range and three-point shot - which allows teams to defend under screens on him and force him to hit jump shots. Uzoh may get a shot with an NBA club, but his shooting and consistent point guard play need to improve for him to develop into a consistent player at the his position.
The 25-year-old Horner is a 6-foot, 9-inch post player with a solid, strong body. He shuffled back and forth between the D-League and the NBA last season (Nets), before playing overseas earlier this winter. Horner is a defensive rebounding, plays solid interior defense, and is a mid-range scoring, while finishing in the paint. He gets a lot of garbage points and is a hard nosed player. Horner is someone that could fill a 10-day void for a club. The North Carolina State product is averaging 12.6 points and 6 rebounds through 20 contests with Springfield.
Should Springfield continues to rack up the recent wins, all four players may be worth NBA call-up consideration.