With the 2014 NBA D-League Draft now in the books, minor league teams can finally look ahead and start to enter training camp by planning for the regular season.
But of course, with constant player movement a part of the D-League from season to season, respective draft results from each team can ultimately end up making or breaking them over the course of a campaign. With that in mind, who set themselves up well for the upcoming season? Which teams valued veteran experience? Which ones looked for potential to be found in aspiring young guns? Which teams selected players according to their respective systems? Were there teams that just rolled the dice with their eyes closed?
Let's take a look at some of the more intriguing picks and break the draft down round by round.
Round One: Selecting players here obviously comes easy for D-League teams, simply because with so much talent available from the start, there's virtually no way to lose.
That said, the Grand Rapids Drive will start their season off with a bang thanks to the acquisition of Robert Covington, who by emerging as the 2013-14 D-League Rookie of the Year last season, proved his skill-set and evident potential was head and shoulders above everyone else's.
Carrick Felix will be a lot of fun to watch in Santa Cruz, Marquis Teague will learn more discipline running the floor by playing with the Thunder affiliated OKC Blue, and Fuquan Edwin was a steal for the Sioux Falls Skyforce at pick number 15.
The big "winner" here (as if there could really be a "loser" in round one) is the Reno Bighorns. In Brady Heslip, they now have a pure sharpshooter to feature in their new run and gun offense. Joonas Caven was a solid pick too, as it'll be interesting to see how the 2015 NBA Draft eligible big man will be featured in such a system.
Another solid pick was that of Eloy Vargas by the D-Fenders. The former Kentucky big man played for the Knicks during 2013 NBA Summer League, which was a team that featured (now) Los Angeles assistant Gene Cross as an assistant as well.
The D-Fenders followed up Vargas' selection with that of Naadir Tharpe. A team clearly valuing high pedigrees, Tharpe will bring his Kansas basketball background to Los Angeles. A 2015 NBA Draft eligible prospect, he could turn out to be the steal of the second round.
The Delaware 87ers followed suit and stayed true to their identity by selecting draft-eligible wing Jamal Jones, the Westchester Knicks made their first selection in franchise history with Joseph Bertrand, and the Mad Ants chose to go with NBA veteran Andre Emmett.
Towards the middle of the draft, teams must gamble, rather than make selections based on a player's respective proven past. There were still some sure bets to be had in round three, however.
David Stockton (son of Hall of Famer John Stockton) was selected by the Red Claws and subsequently traded to the Reno Bighorns. As quick and agile as they come, Stockton is a savvy fireball who will be an ideal fit in Reno's new offense. To be placed in that system, he should be considered a steal in this round.
The OKC Blue picked one of the best players in all of college basketball last season by plucking George Beamon from the pool. Beamon is a highly prolific scorer who led Manhattan College to its first NCAA tourney bid (and not to mention, a MAAC championship win) in a decade. He's proven to shine on the big and bright stages in the Big Apple.
Harvard's Keith Wright (the Austin Spurs) and Chadrack Lufile of Wichita State (Sioux Falls Skyforce) each represented solid picks that are poised to play well in their new respective locations.
As they reach the halfway point in the draft, teams have less of an opportunity to make a splash.
That said, this didn't stop the Westchester Knicks from making their best pick of the draft. 2015 NBA Draft eligible guard (and brother of O.J.) Todd Mayo will be donning orange and blue all of this upcoming season. A man who can score in bunches and has steady defensive instincts, Mayo's abilities and potential could have warranted an earlier selection.
Westchester's pick of Mayo was head and shoulders above that of any other team in round four.
Following a strong collegiate career at Pittsburgh, Ashton Gibbs aimed to break into The Association via the 2012 NBA Draft as one of the NCAA's most prolific scorers. Having instead since spent some time overseas, Gibbs returned stateside and stood tall as one of the purest shooters in all of the D-League Draft this year. Certainly someone who could end up filling it up on the minor league stage this year, Gibbs is a perfect fit for longtime Mike D'Antoni assistant and current Skyforce head coach Phil Weber's offense.
Choosing not to take big risks this round, D-League teams opted to fall back on prospects with past minor league experience. Kevin Anderson heads to the Erie BayHawks, Nick Covington was selected by the Idaho Stampede, and Anthony Stover will play for the Iowa Energy.
In the last round with full participation from all eighteen teams, the Bakersfield Jam's selection of Bill Clark and the Energy's pick of Malik Smith held up the rear of the round by representing two of the better ones, ironically enough. Both have solid collegiate and/or international experience that should translate well to the minor league stage.
Arron Mollet, an open tryout player for the Warriors in Oakland this past fall, will head to Santa Cruz following a trade with the Texas Legends.
Anytime an aspiring minor leaguer garners high praise from an NBADL champion, they should warrant some worthwhile draft consideration. After training with former D-League coach Bob MacKinnon this past fall, Tyrrel Tate will hope to make his mark by catching on with the Idaho Stampede.
Another solid selection was the Bighorns' choice of Keith Chamberlain. Besides being the cousin of Anthony Davis, Chamberlain's familiarity with the Grinnell flavored-offense should play in his favor entering training camp. Reno clearly set out to pick players who fit ideally in their offense, and they succeeded. This qualifies them as one of the clear-cut winners of this year's draft.
One of just four players selected in the last round of the draft, Justin Simmons certainly has a shot to make some noise in the NBA D-League this season. The forward was one of the top standouts from the minor league's national tryout in New York City this past summer.