Half of the 24 invitees expected to participate in the free agent mini-camp hosted by Utah, played significant minutes in the NBA D-League last season. The camp begins today, and according to the list of scheduled attendees, some of the D-League's best will take part in the festivities.
Travis Leslie highlights the group of 12 players, which includes First Team All-Rookie and First Team All-Defensive player Jorge Gutierrez, NBADL playoff star DJ Kennedy, and former NBA player Lazar Hayward. Leslie is perhaps the most familiar face to the Jazz executives and fans, as he landed a 10-day contract with the team last season following his stellar play in Santa Cruz.
Leslie averaged 15.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 27.3 minutes last season. He earned Second Team All-D-league honors en route to his Call-Up in early March as well. His athletic and powerful play was well received in Utah, but it seemed his timing was off. The Jazz even went so far as to claim that they had not closed the door on Leslie when they ultimately released him. Perhaps a strong showing during this 3-day mini-camp will elevate Leslie once again in the Jazz's minds.
It won't be easy for Leslie to rise above the crowd though, in fact, he will likely be surrounded by some very familiar faces. There's guys like the pesky Jorge Gutierrez, a 6'3", gritty point guard from Cal, who finished up an impressive rookie season with the Canton Charge. Gutierrez will look to expand his game this summer, and a nice showing in Salt Lake City will surely kick start it in the right direction.
If the Jazz are looking for potential double-double guys, than Rick Jackson, Arinze Onuaku, and Chris Wright will provide themselves as options to fill that void. Jackson averaged 10.8 points (52% FG) and 9.9 rebounds in 48 games with the Austin Toros. Onuaku started 32 of this 38 games in Canton, and averaged 12.6 points and 9.5 rebounds in 23.7 minutes. Finally, Chris Wright logged heavy minutes for the Maine Red Claws (35.1 MPG), and averaged 18.3 points, 9.2 rebounds 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
There will also be big men options in former Austin Toros power forward JaMychal Green (12.3 points, 10.0 rebounds in playoffs), Former Idaho Stampede bruiser Josh Owens (5.4 points, 4.6 rebounds) and Call-Up recipient Henry Sims (16.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 41 games).
Perhaps one of the more interesting players scheduled to attend is former Minnesota Timberwolves, and Oklahoma City Thunder player Lazar Hayward. Hayward was the 30th overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, and played in 14 games with the Los Angeles D-Fenders last season. Hayward averaged 31.6 minutes despite starting just once in his 14 total games for the club. He scored 15.9 points and grabbed 8.0 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field, and 41% from beyond the arc. Hayward's NBA experience could prove to be beneficial for the former Marquette standout in Salt Lake City.
NBADL champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers star Toure Murray (14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in the playoffs), former Texas Legends impact player Chris Roberts (17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals with Texas), and the aforementioned DJ Kennedy (21.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and +25.5 in the playoffs) will also add to the depth of D-League talent competing at the mini-camp.
As the summer continues, look for more NBA D-League alumni to pop up in mini-camps and Summer League as they continue to position themselves in front of the eyes of important NBA team executives.