Now in the year 2014, approximately 30% of all NBA players have D-League experience.
It's undeniable that some of the more notable players in The Association today (see the likes of Jeremy Lin, Danny Green, and Chris Andersen) have risen up through the ranks of the minor league in recent years. Thus, it's becoming more and more important for fans and big league personnel alike to pay special attention to the talent in the D-League after all.
The NBADL's most promising of prospects strut their stuff each and every night in hopes of getting noticed, catching the eye of an NBA executive, and perhaps earning that oh so coveted big league call-up soon after.
Of course, whereas such D-League athletes hope to catch on with NBA teams for the longterm, there's no doubt any one of them would relish an opportunity to prove themselves regardless, should an NBA team be hit with an injury bug and need someone to fill in instead.
Needless to say, this is one of the more crucial periods for NBA teams to start thinking ahead. Ten-day contracts can now be signed, allowing teams to take a chance and perhaps have a peek at those most intriguing young guns who may be able to step in and help a squad, as many head towards postseason runs.
Taking all of this (and more) into consideration, the RidiculousUpside.com staff (featuring Keith Schlosser, Scott Rafferty, and Dakota Schmidt) is to proud to introduce our Prospect Pyramid, where we rank the minor league's top players at each position.
Without further adieu, here are the power forwards.
1) Chris Wright, Maine Red Claws: Wright is a young gun who's continuing to make strides towards becoming a complete player. Able to score the ball, crash the boards, muscle up on defense, and hit a mid-range jumper, there's not much more teams could ask for from such an up and coming player.
2013-14 Stats: 21.3 points (47% from the field, 29% from deep), 1.6 assists, 7.4 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.4 blocks
2) Ike Diogu, Bakersfield Jam: Diogu has a well-known NBA name, but hasn't amassed all too much fame in The Association over the years just yet. Still, a strong showing at the D-League Showcase did wonders towards proving he has still has what it takes to garner consideration for a spot on any number of big league benches.
2013-14 Stats: 14.8 points (53% from the field, 43% from deep), 1.0 assists, 7.6 rebounds, 0.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks
3) Kevin Jones, Canton Charge: As a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, Jones was a bit of a raw prospect. This season, he's beginning smooth out all facets of his game as a nightly double-double candidate in the D-League.
2013-14 Stats: 16.4 points (51% from the field, 25% from deep), 7.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.4 blocks
4) Damion James, Bakersfield Jam: James is a much more physical player than most would expect from a young gun of his size and stature. Currently a member of the Jam, this NBA veteran plays a role quite similar to that of the one he'd play with any team in The Association.
2013-14 Stats: 12.2 points (44% from the field, 25% from deep), 1.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks
5) Willie Reed, Springfield Armor: Reed is still young and raw, but this prospect is definitely worth keeping an eye on, as worthwhile physical big men are often difficult to come by in The Association.
2013-14 Stats: 12.8 points (60% from the field, 0% from deep), 0.8 assists, 8.8 rebounds, 0.4 steals, and 1.8 blocks
6) Richard Howell, Idaho Stampede: Another bright spot in Idaho next to Jackson and Bost, Howell has been one of the more refreshing surprises in the D-League this season. He's any intrigued NBA executive's dream for a young up and coming big man.
2013-14 Stats: 18.3 points (57% from the field, 0% from deep), 2.7 assists, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals, and 0.7 blocks
7) Grant Jerrett, Tulsa 66ers (Currently Injured): Jerrett's an intriguing player, there's no doubt about that. But the first overall pick of the 2013 NBADL Draft has a ways to go before being able to muscle up next to those forwards ahead of him on this list. Still, the fact that the Thunder own his draft rights and are impressed thus far certainly says something about his prowess.
2013-14 Stats: 16.4 points (44% from the field, 41% from deep), 0.8 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 0.7 blocks
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