Earlier this month, Jarvis Varnado received an NBA call-up to the Chicago Bulls. This past Saturday, big men Hilton Armstrong and Arinze Onuaku each received similar promotions to the NBA parent affiliates of their respective D-League teams as well.
Like some of his aforementioned center counterparts, Sioux Falls Skyforce young gun Justin Hamilton has also been a staple on RidiculousUpside.com's Prospect Pyramid. He, however, was not a benefactor of an NBA call-up this past weekend.
That said, Austin Toros' center Dexter Pittman actually received a call-up this weekend too, in the form of a ten-day contract with the Atlanta Hawks. Over his last five games in the D-League, the 25 year old averaged 16.4 points (on 63% shooting), 9.8 boards, and 1.8 blocks.
Such a hot streak was enough to catch Atlanta's attention, but it's worth that even after such a stretch, Pittman's overall numbers through seventeen total contests with Austin were still quite underwhelming. He averaged 9.8 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks.
After joining the Toros closer to the NBA D-League Showcase (RidiculousUpside.com broke that news exclusively), Pittman struggled to break into the starting lineup, and wasn't exactly even a key role player through the weeks of January. At the Showcase in Reno, specifically, he was slow to react on defense and couldn't seem to assert himself physicality enough to dominate the boards. Overall, the month of January proved to be an inconsistent one for Pittman. He had a couple of solid games, but for the most part, was ineffective.
Clearly, his recent string of steady performances changed Pittman's fortunes for the better. Still, one has to wonder if his subsequent call-up to the Hawks was based more on previous familiarity, rather than recently proven results.
After spending parts of the last three seasons in the NBA with the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies, Pittman is a man whose name is known around circles in The Association. Similarly to his time in Austin, however, the big man underwhelmed with his lack of ability to assert himself and find a steady role.
Pittman also spent time in the D-League with Sioux Falls Skyforce (while on assignment by the Miami Heat), and actually looked like a pretty serviceable for big man. Unfortunately, upon returning to South Beach, the Texas product failed to prove his progress would translate into success on the NBA level.
And that's why it's surprising Pittman earned an NBA call-ups much sooner than some of the other big men in the minor league, who have experienced more success through an even greater sample size. He may be a more well known commodity, but one has to wonder if what he's known for is a positive thing.
The NBA D-League is always a place where opportunities (and sometimes, second chances, too) are realized. With that in mind, kudos for Pittman for snagging yet another shot. It'll be interesting to see whether or not the big man can capitalize on the opportunity at hand, or if other prospects still stand to be more intriguing choices after it's all said and done.