The 2012-13 D-League regular season is now in the rearview mirror as fans from Bakersfield and Maine are looking forward to the NBADL postseason, which begins on Wednesday.
The top four seeds (Bakersfield, Santa Cruz, Canton and Rio Grande Valley) are able to pick their opening round matchups. The first seeded Bakersfield Jam had the first crack at picking their opponent, selecting the sixth seeded Austin Toros.
This series between these two teams will probably be one of the more unpredictable matchups because they are two completely different teams. Bakersfield is an up tempo team that relies heavily on its bevy of perimeter players, including James Nunnally, Stephen Dennis, and Damion James (Jerel McNeal's signed for the rest of the season with the Utah Jazz).
While Bakersfield likes to do most of their damage on the outside, Austin is more of a balanced team with solid pieces both in the frontcourt ( Rick Jackson, JaMychael Green and potentially Spurs' assignee Aron Baynes) and backcourt (Lester Hudson, Tre Kelley and Chris Roberts).
Matchup To Watch
Rick Jackson/Aron Baynes vs. Brian Butch
While neither of these players are as well known as say Lester Hudson or Damion James, their respective skill-sets help them matchup very well with one another. Butch is a 7'0, 240 pound center, whose main strength is his perimeter shooting (shooting 33% from behind the 3 point line) which is something that's extremely uncommon in the D-League.
Jackson, on the other hand, is one of those physical powerhouses, who uses his 6'9, 240 pound frame to outwork his opponents for offensive rebounds or to get off his small hook shot. The battle of the boards between both of these guys will be very interesting, due to each one's ability to pull down double-figures in rebounds.
Bakersfield in 3 games (Best-of-3 series)
Despite this being a matchup between the #1 and #7 seeds, expect this series to go down to the wire. It would probably be another story if Bakersfield still had McNeal on their roster, but the team has done pretty well with regard to trying to find a replacement, with James Nunnally and especially Phoenix Suns assignee Diante Garrett, who will be with the affiliate during the playoff run.
Toros fans may argue that Tre' Kelley and Lester Hudson are close to the level of those two athletes, but the edge should still be given to the Jam because of Damion James. James is probably the most imposing player in this series because of the potential he has to just take over a game. He knows how important this playoff series is to his upcoming offseason and his potential to land a worthwhile big league gig.Even though Austin's Jamarr Sanders is a solid defensive player, I just struggle to see how either him or anybody can stop Damion James when he's focused and in the zone.