Frank Gaines played in the NBADL last season as part of the Maine Red Claws. Though it was his rookie season, you would have been hard pressed to tell when watching him play. Gaines played in 48 games (starting 34 of those) and finished with averages of 22.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists -- the 22.4 points was good enough for fourth in the entire D-League.
The NBADL gives out a "Most Improved Player Award" just like the NBA, however, unlike the NBA, this award is given to the player who shows the most improvement during the same season. Though Gaines was good from start to finish, he finished with a scoring average of 25.4 points per game over the final three months of the season (up from 19.2 before that point) and captured the award.
Now Gaines will try and turn his great rookie showing into a springboard to the NBA next year. He'll participate in a free agent camp as he contends for a Summer League spot in Orlando with the Pacers, and will play for the Heat in Las Vegas. Indiana faithful might already have a good picture of what Gaines can do as he played his college ball at Indiana/Purdue Ft. Wayne (IPFW) in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
One aspect that will be a benefit for Gaines heading into this opportunity is his perspective. Gaines is coming into the summer league as with a reputation as a big-time scoring guard, however he also has experience being successful as a reserve. He came off the bench for 14 games last season and in 29.5 minutes averaged 18.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Not only has he produced off the bench, but he did it quite efficiently by shooting 47.1 percent overall, 44 percent from three-point land (on 5.4 attempts) and 80.8 percent from the free throw line (on 5.6 attempts).
Gaines' most impressive outburst came late in the season in a game against the Delaware 76ers when he played 47 minutes and matched that with 47 points along with 5 rebounds on 16-27 shooting (8-13 from deep). Here are the highlights from that game.