How did the Los Angeles D-Fenders do last season?
Los Angeles emerged as the second seeded team in the D-League after finding success in Bob MacKinnon's run and gun offense.
But come playoff time, opposing scouts considered the D-Fenders to have checked out. The postseason experience of the Warriors was enough to knock the Lakers' affiliate out and send them home earlier than expected.
How will they be this season?
With Phil Hubbard at the helm, receiving his first opportunity as head coach, it'll be interesting to see what kind of system is utilized. But if one thing is for sure, it's that Hubbard will be a player's coach ---- he's been in Los Angeles before, is more than familiar with the D-League, and knows what it takes to make a living in the NBA.
In Manny Harris, the D-Fenders employ one of the more talented players in all of the minor league. How long he remains there is anyone's guess. With the Lakers hoping to uncover some potential diamonds in the rough and develop their young talent, expect the NBADL affiliate to be utilized effectively.
Who is the most likely call-up?
It's not a matter of if, but when Harris gets called up. Through two ten-day contracts with the Lakers last season, Harris averaged 8.1 points while being depended on to fill it up offensively off the pine. He can take defenders to task better than just about anyone in the D-League.
Still just 25 years old, teams will be knocking down the door of Harris, should some of their top respective scorers suffer injuries early on.
Who is the most likely assignee?
The Lakers are young as it is. In addition, they're a team vulnerable to be flooded by injuries as the season progresses. Having said that, there's no clear cut player to send the D-Fenders' way this year.
That said, Ryan Kelly found success rehabbing in the D-League in the last season. As he fights to remain healthy during his sophomore year, perhaps a minor league return won't be out of the question down the line.
Will Eloy Vargas eventually win over a starting job?
Travis Hyman may be returning to the D-Fenders for another year, but Eloy Vargas is poised to make some noise down in the low post.
The D-Fenders' first round pick from this year's draft is as versatile as they come; he's a good defender inside, but can also step back to hit mid-range jumpers and even the long ball, too. Having been coached by current D-Fenders assistant Gene Cross in NBA Summer League with the Knicks in 2013, perhaps he figures to gain favor, sooner, rather than later.