In less than two months of NBA D-League play, Darion Atkins has quietly carved out a niche for himself in the minor league. After spending NBA training camp with the Knicks, Atkins started off playing moderate minutes in Westchester. Nevertheless, his style of play is making it difficult to keep him off the court for long periods of time.
Atkins' game oozes out with tremendous hustle, dedication, and hard work. He gets after the ball at all costs, crashing the boards and using his physical frame to box out and all the while, pester opposing shooters. He may not be the most polished player currently hitting the D-League hardwood, but there's no doubt he continues to prove to be a viable candidate for NBA teams, if for nothing more than the fact that he could seamlessly fit right in to any given situation with any number of different guys. The forward is able to thrive without the basketball.
After only winning nine games all of last season, Atkins and Co. already have the D-League Knicks off to a splendid start under new coach Mike Miller. They currently lead their division with an impressive 12-5 record. This past week, Atkins showed exactly why he's a key cog in making their engine thrust full speed ahead, even if he's not one to boast the same kind of scoring prowess as Jimmer Fredette.
From December 20th through the 26th, Atkins was not only solid, but also looked like a bonafide 'Defensive Player of the Year' candidate. Helping the Knicks achieve a 2-1 mark on the week, he averaged 14.7 points on 58% from the field and 2.7 assists. But even more importantly, he not once amassed fewer than 12 rebounds. Leaving his fingerprints all over each of last week's contests, the 24 year old averaged an eye-popping 14 rebounds to go along with 2.3 blocks and 2 steals. He was all over the place, and for Westchester, that was in no means a bad thing.
For his latest efforts, Atkins has been awarded RidiculousUpside.com's latest 'Top Prospect of the Week' honors. If he wasn't on the radar of NBA teams to start off, he certainly should be now. This type of gritty effort is nothing new, but luckily for him, it's really come into view with the annual D-League Showcase just over a week away.