As the NBA season nears the postseason, team agendas are more concretely defined for the next few weeks, as the various squads now know whether they're in the thick of a playoff race, or whether it's time to begin packing things up and just wait for next year.
Either way, whether it's to make sure they have all hands on deck in time for the postseason, or to get a better look at some young guns who may be Summer League candidates, the next few weeks will serve as an opportune time for NBA teams to explore the D-League for options.
This past week only further proved that theory, as many of the D-League prospects were beneficiaries of NBA call-ups, and those top talents who weren't, only continued to make their case(s) even more. Here's a look at some of the bigger headlining stories from the minors this week.
JEREL MCNEAL SIGNS WITH UTAH JAZZ
Despite being a member of the Jazz for a couple of games now, McNeal has yet to make his NBA debut. Nevertheless, that still doesn't take away from what he accomplished to get there.
McNeal had quite a journey in the D-League this season, emerging as a starter with the Jam, to later accepting a sixth man role behind Suns' assignee Kendall Marshall, to finally rising up as an NBADL All-Star and potential M.V.P. candidate.
Following the NBADL Showcase in January, McNeal began to look like a minor league superstar. In addition to leading the Jam to the D-League's best overall record, his ability to be trusted offensively with games on the line proved he could be as clutch as they come. His explosive first step to the basket helps him overpower defenders and get inside with ease, but he had also been working on his playmaking abilities as the months progressed as well.
Perhaps his skill-set will translate to the NBA game and he'll see more of an opportunity with Utah in the coming days.
KRIS JOSEPH TO GET CALLED UP BY BROOKLYN NETS?
Such a move hasn't been made official just yet, but from a wide range sources including Armor big man Willie Reed's Twitter feed, and our friends at NetsDaily.com, it appears as though Kris Joseph will be joining the Brooklyn Netsrelatively soon.
Shortly after being waived by the Celtics and joining their NBADL squad full-time earlier this season, Joseph was traded from the Maine Red Claws to the Springfield Armor. The Nets have long had their eyes on Joseph, and allowing the Syracuse swingman to don their minor league uniform was simply a way of providing him with a long-term audition of sorts.
Joseph may not be fully out of the woods just yet, though he's certainly been able to peak Brooklyn brass' curiosities. He may not see too much burn on the court in the coming weeks, but at the very least, bringing him aboard will give him more exposure to the Nets' overall team culture and perhaps better prepare him for a Summer League gig with the team.
JUSTIN HOLIDAY TO JOIN BROTHER JRUE IN PHILADELPHIA
Justin Holiday's road to the NBA may not have been as easy for him as it was for plenty of his fellow prospects. The swingman got off to a slow start this season, and his D-League team (the Idaho Stampede) has owned one of the weaker records in the league all season long.
Throughout the early months of the season, Holiday has begun to rise up, albeit as more of a consistent performer than much of a star. Nevertheless, he turned up the intensity a few notches following the All-Star break, not only leading his team to a few extra rare victories, but also doing so in rather dominating fashion.
Having averaged 23.2 points (on 45% from the field and 46% from deep) and 3.2 steals in the month of March, Holiday was able to compete with the best of the best, and earned himself legitimate consideration for the league's "Top Performer of the Month" award.
Though Holiday may not have been preparing for an NBADL playoff run, at least his stellar efforts haven't gone to waste. He will reportedly join his brother, Jrue, in Philadelphia as a member of the 76ers.
TONY TAYLOR JR. HITS GAME-WINNER FOR THE TULSA 66ERS
One of the promising up and coming talents in all of the NBA D-League, 66ers' guard Tony Taylor is simply continuing to do work in the minors as he watches some fellow prospects earn NBA call-ups as inspiration.
This late in the season, Taylor Jr.'s sights may be set on proving himself with regard to earning potential Summer League and/or training camp gigs, but it appears his time to shine and do so has come right now.
With Chris Quinn having signed with the Cavaliers for the rest of the season, Taylor has been free to step back up as starting floor general for Tulsa.
He hasn't disappointed, so far averaging 13 points on 44% from the field and 3.5 assists since returning to the 66ers' first unit. What's more, he hit what went on to become the game-winning bucket for his squad in a contest against the Austin Toros on Friday night.
ANDREW GOUDELOCK STEADILY PROPELLING HIMSELF ON VERY STRONG STRETCH
As mentioned, the likes of McNeal, Joseph, and Holiday will all have joined NBA teams in the coming days (if they haven't done so already) and if this past week is indication, Andrew Goudelock should be right behind them all.
The guard has led the way as the Rio Grande Valley Vipers ride his most recent success and cash it in for a eight game winning streak. Goudelock has continued to prove why he should garner M.V.P. consideration come this season's end all along, but frankly, this week he may have very well otherwise ran away with the award anyway.
Such a dominating offensive force on the NBA D-League hardwood, Goudelock has averaged 31.8 points (on an eye-popping 57% from the field and 53% from long-range), 5.4 assists, and 1.6 steals over his last five contests. He also poured in two 40 plus point performances during the same short stretch.
Having spent his rookie campaign with the Lakers last season, there's no doubt Goudelock holds the potential to help a contending down the stretch by providing a boost off the bench.