As the 33rd pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, it's safe to say that Carrick Felix was among the most intriguing of prospects from his respective draft class.
But as the Cleveland Cavaliers awaited the return of hometown kid and NBA superstar LeBron James, Felix failed to break into the rotation during a campaign of experimentation in Cleveland. He appeared in just seven games, while also spending time with the affiliated Canton Charge.
But that same level of intrigue still surrounds the young gun. At 6'6" and 200 pounds, he can handle the ball like the purest of point guards. He can apply sufficient ball pressure by defending any number of positions on the floor. As a bigger floor general, he creates impressive mismatches. As Felix looks to embrace more of a combo-guard role, knocking down the long ball consistently will be key in his development.
He'll be given ample opportunity to hone such a skill (and others, for that matter), as he begins his sophomore season with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League.
Still, the talented young gun remains modest, even after being selected as the fourth overall pick in the D-League Draft. "The task right now is just getting better as a team," he told RidiculousUpside.com. "We're working on stuff defensively. We're learning our offensive sets. We're learning everyone's habits and trying to gel everything together."
Ironically enough, fresh off his rookie season in the NBA, the coaching staff and even some of his teammates now look to him as somewhat of a veteran. After all, he comes to Santa Cruz with valuable experience.
"This is a good opportunity. I'm still in the learning process myself, but we all help each other as well," he asserted. "There are things, though, that I've seen and that I've been through. It's good that I can give advice. But I can take it as well, so it all goes hand in hand."
As he makes an early impact, Santa Cruz even feels like home a bit. "It's good so far. No complains. I was in Cleveland last year, so being back on the West Coast, where I'm from, is good," Felix said. "It's good to see the sun again."
And if the fast start he's off to in camp isn't validation enough that he'll begin to thrive once the season starts, one of the guard's trusted confidants and past mentors is in support of the minor league gig.
Eric Musselman, the former NBA and D-League head coach who led the Los Angeles D-Fenders to the NBADL Finals in 2011-12 was an assistant coach at Arizona State during Felix's collegiate years, and the two remain close.
"Muss and I have a really good relationship," the guard said. "He helped me a lot going into my NBA Draft, too. He told me it's good to be down here [in the D-League]. It's a place to learn. He thinks I'll benefit from the atmosphere. He wants me to take advantage of it."
Hopefully, that's exactly what Felix does.