First, there were a total of 14 players sent on assignment this weekend, by 11 different NBA teams. Of those 11 teams, eight have one-to-one affiliations so you could imagine if all 30 NBA teams had this luxury they would certainly be using it to their benefit as some already are.
NBA assignees in the D-League usually create some buzz and excitement because it's a chance for us to see what these young guys can do in live game action. Most of these players are not in their NBA club's rotation at this time so instead of rotting on the bench, their respective teams utilize the D-League to have their players get in some work. Usually, it's easy to see that each player has some specific skills they are working to improve, but sometimes guys just need minutes and a confidence boost.
Clint Capela - Houston Rockets
The man, the myth, the legend. Capela is quickly stealing the hearts of Rockets fans everywhere and this weekend the 20-year-old continued to add to his legend with a magical performance against the Austin Spurs (and fellow rookie Adreian Payne). He's still very, very raw on the offensive end but he's proving that he can adhere to instructions from his coaching staff early in the season. Coming into the 2014 NBA Draft some of his skeptics focused on the fact that he doesn't attack the basket and settles for jump shots far too often. Throw that out the window!
Capela is a revelation as the roll guy on a traditional pick-and-roll and he's been attacking the basket relentlessly in the D-League so far this season. While he is capable of hitting a mid-range jumper the 6'10 forward is certainly better off in the post, running the break or attacking the basket with no regard for human life (Gosh we love you Kevin Harlan). Capela played one game this weekend for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers putting up a ridiculous 31 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in only 22 minutes! He also had a resounding dunk that put Adreian Payne on a poster coming to a team shop near you.
Capela isn't cracking the Rockets rotation this season, but man did they find a gem late in the first round with this guy. His defense is menacing and his offensive skills are only going to improve over time.
Spencer Dinwiddie - Detroit Pistons
Many believe that the Pistons got a steal in the 2014 NBA Draft nabbing Dinwiddie early in the second round (38th overall). He only slipped that far due to missing half of his junior year at Colorado due to a torn ACL in his left knee and now the Pistons couldn't be more thrilled. Dinwiddie was lottery-level talent before that injury and it appears that he is now fully healthy and ready to work his way back into game shape.
Dinwiddie battled fellow rookie Shabazz Napier in back-to-back matchups this weekend. Dinwiddie played two games for the Grand Rapids Drive and it looked evident that the Pistons want him to get some work in at point guard as he started there both games. Known for his scoring prowess at the college level, Dinwiddie was focused on distributing the ball and playing relentless defense during these games. For the pair of games he averaged 16.5 points and seven assists and perhaps even more encouraging was that he only had three turnovers in his 61 total minutes on the court.
At 6'6 Spencer can create off the dribble but has mainly played the off guard role and it appears that the Pistons want him to carve out a niche as a lengthy point guard who can also score when needed. He plays with a fluidity that reminds me of that Virtual Insanity video Jamiroquai (this one!) Brandon Jennings is firmly planted as the Pistons starting point guard but Dinwiddie could definitely play himself into some backup minutes down the road.
Here are the other assignees and their stats for the weekend.
Cory Jefferson (Nets) - 10.5 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks on 69 percent shooting
Markel Brown (Nets) - 7 points in 8 minutes played -- left game with bruised right knee
Adreian Payne (Hawks) - 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds on 44.4 percent shooting
John Jenkins (Hawks) - 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds with splits of 44/40/88
Jeffrey Taylor (Hornets) - 18 points and 5 rebounds in 31.5 mpg
James Young (Celtics) - 27 points and 5-9 from 3-point range
Shabazz Napier (Heat) - 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5.5 assists; 44/49/100
Ricky Ledo (Mavericks) - 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists but shot only 31 percent from field
Nick Johnson (Rockets) - 23 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 28 minutes
Tarik Black (Lakers) - 23 points and 12 rebounds
Jordan Clarkson (Lakers) - 35 points, 6 rebounds and 11 assists and shot 70 percent!
**All stats for this article are from the D-League Official Site