The Idaho Stampede's 98-79 loss to the Reno Bighorns on Saturday night took the team out of contention for one of the NBA D-League's remaining postseason spots. Along with the team's playoff hopes, both Kevin Murphy and Pierre Jackson's chances at the league's M.V.P. award have also seemingly gone out the window.
Though each one stood tall as the minor league's number one prospect at different points in the year, the Stampede's exclusion from the postseason will likely be enough to take them out of consideration. Such players who win such an award usually come from rather dominant, let alone winning, teams.
With that in mind, there are still a handful of intriguing young guns who should garner significant considerable for the award, after having made quite the impact for their respective teams this season. Here's a look at some prospects who should prove to serve as worthwhile candidates.
1) Ron Howard, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Led by the man who arguably stands tall as the D-League's most notable veteran of all-time, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants enter Sunday as the minor league's top dog with a grip on the first playoff seed. Howard has continued to pour in the points, and was more recently recongized as the NBADL's greatest all-time leading scorer.
This season, Howard is averaging 20.5 points (on 48% from the field), 4.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.6 steals.
2) Othyus Jeffers, Iowa Energy
Like Howard, Jeffers is also a well-known D-League veteran. Averaging the best numbers of his five-season minor league career, the forward has led the resurgence of an Energy squad that has risen from the bottom of the D-League last season, to one of its best teams this season.
Thus far achieving career-high averages in points, rebounds, and steals, Jeffers is currently logging 21.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.2 steals.
3) Robert Covington (on assignment from the Rockets), Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Despite being an assignment player from the Houston Rockets, Covington still emerged as the D-League All-Star Game's M.V.P. last month. Could an M.V.P. trophy be within his grasp next?
Though the Vipers are currently on a six-game skid, Covington served as the man to head the team's previous dominance throughout the season. En route to developing and further fine-tuning his game, Covington has filled up the stat-sheet each and every night. He owns averages of 23.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks through 39 contests.
4) Justin Hamilton (currently a member of the Miami Heat), Sioux Falls Skyforce
Prior to earning a call-up to the Charlotte Bobcats, and then going on to sign a multi-year contract with the Miami Heat, Hamilton stood tall as arguably the best center in all of the D-League. Like Jeffers, Hamilton was a leader in his own respective team's resurgence back to playoff contention.
Hamilton can do it all. He's a defensive force and can rebound the ball rather well, but also has an unique shooting stroke from all over the court for a player his size. In 39 games with the Skyforce, the young gun averaged 19.2 points (on 49% from the field and 38% from deep), 9.3 boards, and 2.0 blocks.
5) Terrence Williams, Los Angeles D-Fenders
Like Murphy and Jackson, Manny Harris was also a mainstay as the D-League's number one overall prospect. Despite his awesome play and stellar production, the guard's two ten-day contracts with the Lakers and subsequent deal in Turkey limited him to 22 minor league games. This makes him ineligible for an end of the season award, having played in less than half of his team's respective games.
But the D-Fenders have kept on trucking, emerging as the league's second seed overall. Williams is largely in part to thank for that, currently averaging 20.1 points, 6.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 steals on the year.