For the first few weeks of 2013, L.A. D-Fenders guard Courtney Fortson graced the front page of NBADLeague.com as the number one overall prospect in the entire league.
The point guard is as explosive as they come, and he only further proved that during his couple of outings in the NBADL Showcase earlier this year. With a deadly first step towards the basket, Fortson is quick and agile, and can beat most defenders to the hoop to lay in the rock or even dunk the ball.
Fortson can be dominant if necessary, and as his team's most lethal offensive weapon, he's often been looked upon to do that.
But with the offense running through such a player so much, one is susceptible to be a bit turnover prone. And that Fortson certainly is. What's more, his shot selection is also somewhat questionable at times. Again, because he's his team's number one point producer (he averages 18 points on 42% from the field), he's also likely to take the most shots and command the ball most often too. At times, they're certain not to be the best of looks. This happens to plenty of talented scorers in the NBA (such as J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford), so it's certain to happen to a few of the D-League's more talented players as well. It's only natural.
But as the season's progressed, the D-Fenders have made efforts to surround Fortson with a bevy of other talented players, many of which have substantial NBA experience. The most recent aquisition for the team also happened to be arguably the most notable one as well, when Los Angeles traded away two of their veterans (Ronald Dupree and Orien Greene) to the Reno Bighorns for D-League All-Star Jerome Jordan.
Trading for Jordan may have been all the more of an easier decision after watching he and Fortson go to work together in the NBADL All-Star Game. Though the pair came off the bench for the losing team, they thrived with one another, and it was easy to see. While such a contest may be nothing more than a glorified exhibition, Jordan and Fortson could be found conferencing throughout, almost working out potential plays while on the hardwood. They worked well in the pick and roll together, as Jordan shot 6 for 6 from the field, and Fortson poured in 20 points and added 4 assists too.
There was visible on the court chemistry between the two, and perhaps the D-Fenders were able to take note of that during the game. But more importantly, the team has now put both players in a very easy position to succeed with one another on their side full-time.
Many of Fortson's shortcomings seem to come from all of the different pressures on his shoulders. He's a talented player whose instincts and decision making process could use a bit of improvement. Things will likely come easier for him from playing with Jordan. As Fortson drives to the hoop, the big man simply represents another versatile option, should his floor general want to dish it out inside when the double-team attacks him instead.
Fortson's game has already seemed to benefit from Jordan being another feather in L.A.'s packed offensive cap, as Fortson has totaled no fewer than 9 assists in three contests with the center.
For Jordan, playing with the D-Fenders will bring him similar, if not more success, than what he was enjoying in Reno. During the Showcase, Bighorns point guard Walker Russell Jr. told RidiculousUpside.com that Jordan was the best big man he had ever played with (presumedly in the D-League). After their All-Star outing together, certainly Fortson began to see why his fellow point guard comrade would think so.
Fresh off a rookie season in the NBA with the Knicks, Jordan has gone to work by asserting himself as a surefire candidate for the "Defensive Player of the Year" award in the NBADL. With a point guard like Fortson running the show for his new team, perhaps Jordan will cash in even more on the offensive end too.
Both players represent two of the D-League's top ten overall prospects. It's easy to understand why each one's skill set is appreciated by those in the minor league. But perhaps playing together and elevating each other's game along the way will aid each one's own quest for an NBA call-up.