Most NBA D-League athletes are ones who fly under the radar. That is largely in part why they've slipped through the cracks ended up in the minor league to begin with. Despite the relative obscurity, there are still plenty of players who tend to impress, en route to attempting to break down the NBA door. A great example of someone who has come a long towards doing so thus far is Rio Grande Valley Vipers second-year guard Jaron Johnson, who has established himself as one of the better two-way guards in the NBADL.
An unknown high school prospect, Johnson initially spent two seasons at Tyler Junior College before transferring over to Louisiana Tech. The move did give him some additional exposure, but he was a role player during his time with the team. Playing 18.4 minutes per game with Louisiana Tech, Johnson averaged 7 points and 3.25 rebounds per game on 47% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc.
Understandably, Johnson didn't really receive many international offers after graduating, as it took a tryout with RGV for him to get his foot in the D-League door. But as many talented guards have done in the past (Chris Johnson, Glen Rice and Troy Daniels), Johnson was able to make an immediate impact on the team. As a rookie last season, Johnson averaged 15.1 points and 4.5 boards on 47% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. Although he was overshadowed by the likes of Clint Capela and Glen Rice Jr., the campaign was a huge first step towards his development.
That progression has continued into the 2015-16 season, as Johnson has evolved into an all-around offensive player. Averaging 18.3 points and 6.3 rebounds on a 54% True Shooting Percentage, The biggest part of that development has been due to how he's improved as a perimeter shooter. Shooting 37% from beyond the arc, such efficiency was made possible by him having a very quick and smooth jumper with a high release. That shooting stroke is displayed in the below video, as Johnson nails a cornucopia of catch-and-shoot jumpers.
Aside from his development as a shooter, the biggest addition to Johnson's game has been his work as a facilitator. Averaging 3.9 assists per game, the guard has joined Jarvis Threatt and Will Cummings as RGV's main distributor. He's been able to accomplish this due to his on-ball quickness and solid court vision. He regularly shows an ability to dish it off while in the process of cutting to the paint, which really makes him a perfect fit for that wide-open RGV offense.
While Johnson is currently playing for the worst defensive team in the NBADL (allowing 110.2 points per 100 possessions), he's shown some signs of becoming solid perimeter defender. See below.
As Johnson continues his second season with the Vipers, it seems as though he's slowly transitioning from a solid D-Leaguer into a viable call-up option.