With the 2015 NBA D-League Showcase officially here, big league executives and scouts from across The Association will be arriving in Santa Cruz, not only hoping to enjoy the beautiful weather, but also to discover and uncover some potential diamonds in the rough along the way.
There is talent of plenty in town to be had and be seen. Some prospects are right on the cusp of breaking in, while others still have a ways to go before truly making a name for themselves. In either case, it's still all about proving their worth and putting that worthwhile potential on display.
But of course, in accordance with the minor league serving as the land of opportunity, it's also the land of second chances. There are a slew of veteran players ready to hit the hardwood at the Showcase as well, all of whom hope to prove they deserve a second look and/or have enough gas in the tank to carry on and make meaningful contributions to an NBA team.
With the Clippers already most recently having called up Dahntay Jones from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the hope is alive more than ever. Having said that, here's a look at some of the more intriguing veterans still strutting their stuff in the D-League.
Mike James, Texas Legends
No stranger to the D-League or the Showcase itself, for that matter, this NBA veteran of over a decade knows exactly how to utilize the minor league for his benefit. Having earned two call-ups in previous seasons after strutting his stuff at this level, James is not above getting down and dirty, so to speak, to remind big league teams what he's all about.
The guard has continued to prove he can keep up with the young cats and play at any tempo. Sill capable of running an offense, James is averaging 15 points and 4.8 assists for Texas this season.
Andre Barrett, Westchester Knicks
Also a veteran of more than ten seasons at the professional level, Barrett has all but had just a cup of coffee or two in the NBA. Still, he's determined as ever and has shown the persaverence necessary to keep going.
Playing for Westchester this season, the Seton Hall alum and New York City kid has undoubtedly felt more comfortable hitting the hardwood closer to his roots while leading the way for the local team. Proving to be a versatile guard, Barrett has found his way in various dual point-guard lineups for the Knicks this season, serving as the one or two. He's averaged 13.2 points and 4.4 assists this season
Darnell Jackson, Westchester Knicks
While talented guards are all too prevalent in the minor league, quality big men are hard to find. If a promising player has decent size, stature, and evident abilities, chances are he'll be in the NBA sooner, rather than later. With that in mind, perhaps Jackson's time is coming up.
Westchester traded away their first round draft choice in this past fall's D-League Draft, for his rights, but so far, Jackson hasn't disappointed. Providing a steady presence down on the low block, the big man has averaged 14.5 points and 7 rebounds thus far.
Damien Wilkins, Iowa Energy
While he too, has been around the professional basketball circuit over the last decade, Wilkins has failed to stick in the NBA most recently. Thus, he's trying his hand at the D-League for the first time this season.
Already proving that he's still capable of pouring in the points, the swingman has not only averaged 23.3 points this campaign, but also served as quite the stat-sheet stuffer for Iowa. Filling it up with an all-around overall effort, Wilkins has logged 6.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.7 steals. Whether this is all enough to earn a second chance remains to be seen.
Damion James, Texas Legends
It feels like just yesterday that James was first breaking into The Association. Nevertheless, nagging injuries have derailed such hopes to stick at the big league level.
But like many of his veteran teammates on the Legends, James isn't above proving himself again and again in the D-League. He's done so successfully in the past, having last year earned respective gigs with the Nets and Spurs. Hoping to get a call this time around as well, the forward has continued to put up strong numbers, averaging a double-double with 18.8 points and 10.6 thus far.