How did Santa Cruz do last season?
The Warriors won the championship last season, finally taking the crown in head coach Casey Hill's third appearance (second as head coach) to the D-League Finals. It was a tricky year because of all the moving parts (Carrick Felix suffered a year-ending injury and the likes of Joe Alexander and Ronald Roberts fled overseas), but the staff was able to keep the group focused on the ultimate goal. Aaron Craft won Defensive Player of the Year and the team benefited from multiple assignments of James Michael McAdoo, now a Golden State Warrior.
How will they do this season?
D-League Finals M.V.P. Elliot Williams is a late returning piece to their roster, having participated in training camp with the Charlotte Hornets. He's a huge (re) addition, but the team will need to cope with the losses of Craft, Mychel Thompson, and others. This is par for the course in the D-League. Look for Darington Hobson to rise up as one of the league's top performers, should he be in the D-League long enough to really find a rhythm. Then again, the better he plays, the less likely he is to stick around. Chemistry will be key with the new group, and the Austin Spurs look loaded with tons of borderline NBA talent, but it'd be naive to count the defending champs out with Casey Hill returning for another year.
Who is the most likely call-up?
Hobson is easily the most versatile talent on this roster. He does all of the little things, passes well, rebounds the ball with assertiveness, etc. Still, should an NBA team be targeting a younger player, Juwan Staten is on the cusp of being a big league point guard. The Warriors crave leadership from the one, so he'll have ample opportunity to shine. Elliot Williams, was, however, called up three times last season.
Most likely assignee?
Santa Cruz loves having McAdoo around, and the feeling is mutual. Watching him play, even in the early stages of last year, it was clear to see that he's an NBA player. But Golden State is a stacked team and there aren't as many minutes to go around. Thus, it's rather convenient to assign the big man down to Santa Cruz, if and when the affiliate is in need of a boost down on the low block, depending on the matchup.
Will this season be Moe Baker's swan song?
Santa Cruz employs a D-League treasure in Moe Baker, whose name is all over the minor league record books. The veteran has returned for yet another season. As Baker gets older, he's no longer utilized as an everyday player, but still seems to have a string of games every season where he fills evident voids and turns back the clock. His veteran leadership is priceless, as he is an asset to both his teammates and the staff. This tireless worker should have a long post-playing career ahead of him, if and when he decides to hang up his sneakers.