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2015-16 Season NBA D-League Team Preview: Grand Rapids Drive

RidiculousUpside.com helps basketball fans preview the 2015-16 NBA D-League season with its overview of the Grand Rapids Drive.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

How did the Drive do last season?

The Drive finished off their inaugural season with a 23-27 record and missed the playoffs by just five games. They weren't able to qualify for the postseason, but head coach Otis Smith led them to one of the more stifling defenses in the entire D-League. Their 106.1 Defensive Rating ranked sixth out of eighteen in the NBADL and was accomplished on the backs of big men Hasheem Thabeet and Willie Reed, as well as strong perimeter defenders in Manny Atkins and Kelsey Barlow. With more depth in the backcourt, the Drive may look to pick up the pace this year on offense.

How good can they be?

After shuffling their backcourt around over the course of last season, the team has had an influx of talent that will prove to be a nightmare throughout the course of the season. Assistant coach and former Atlanta Hawks guard Dion Glover is going to have quite a bit to work with, with former Connecticut standout Ryan Boatright now leading a backcourt that also includes a returning Barlow and the defensive-minded Stefhon Hannah. Opposing teams are going to have their hands full on the wing and down low, too, with Adonis Thomas, Devin Ebanks and first-round D-League selection Sam Thompson from Ohio State all capable of hitting the defense in different ways. They had a solid first season last year and there's nothing that indicates that they won't take a (potentially big) step forward this year.

Most likely call-up?

After signing with the Pistons in July and playing with their team in the Summer League, Adonis Thomas seemed primed to compete for a spot on the team's Opening Night roster. Unfortunately he suffered a calf injury and was forced to miss all but one preseason game, but the fact that he was in the position that he was shows the team's interest in him. With Stan Van Gundy constantly on the lookout for versatile players, along with the struggles from the Pistons bench to this point, I think it's only a matter of time before Thomas gets the chance to prove his worth at the NBA level.

Most intriguing potential assignee?

With the Pistons bench consisting mostly of veterans like Steve Blake and Anthony Tolliver, the pickings are slim for any potential assignees. With that being said, once Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks return from their respective injuries, the backcourt may be a bit more crowded than Stan Van Gundy would prefer. With only so many minutes to go around, it would make sense that 2015 second-round pick Darrun Hilliard out of Villanova gets the call down to Grand Rapids. After being a surprise selection with the 38th overall pick, Hilliard has yet to see the floor and would be best served going somewhere that he could see consistent minutes. The 6'6 shooting guard was a marksman in college, shooting right around 40% from three-point range over his last two years in school, but struggled at getting to the rim and finishing through contact. Developing that skill into his offensive game could earn him a regular role in the Pistons rotation.

Can Devin Ebanks make it back into the league?

After being a second-round pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010, Ebanks wasn't ever able to carve out a role in the rotation behind Matt Barnes and the artist formerly known as Ron Artest. He played in 63 games over the course of three years with the team and after a quick one-month stint in the pre-season with the Dallas Mavericks, he hasn't been seen at the NBA level since.

In the time that he's spent away from the NBA, he's made three separate stops in the D-League as well as stints in Mexico and Puerto Rico. In that time, he's had the chance to further develop his game and intends to fulfill the hefty amount of potential that he had coming out of high school as one of the top players in the country. During his time internationally last season he stood out, scoring nearly 17 points per game in addition to hitting 37% from deep and grabbing five and a half rebounds. Pairing him up with the versatile game of Adonis Thomas should improve the trajectory of both players, as they're each able to work down low and on the perimeter. He just recently turned 26-years old so he has more than enough time to break into the league, but if he can maintain the level of play that he displayed internationally last season, it may force Stan Van Gundy into giving him a look this season.