The NBA D-League life is certainly not a glamorous one. With that in mind, it can sometimes prove difficult for players to stay motivated. Sometimes it's even more of a tricky task for NBA assignees to do so because of the relative culture shock that may come their way.
Not everyone is able to take a minor league assignment in stride. Nevertheless, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers received a huge boost from K.J. McDaniels and Montrezl Harrell on Sunday afternoon, via the affiliated Houston Rockets.
Both players were rather clutch in the affiliate's win over the Idaho Stampede, each logging impressive outings. McDaniels shot 7 of 10, scoring 17 points and being tied for the team-lead with 9 rebounds. Harrell added 15 points, was tied with McDaniels with 9 boards, while also leading the team with 6 assists.
The plus/minus factor was not necessarily in either one's favor, but in this case, looks were deceiving. The duo was downright exuberant while hitting the minor league hardwood. Aside from the numbers, each one should be considered the poster-child for coming to the D-League and simply going to work. They were energetic, loud, and proud all game long. Their collective excitement was contagious, as they played off each other very well, looking excited to relish in the opportunity --- not only to get more minutes, but to also be celebrated as the stars of the given contest.
The way the pair carried themselves on the court is how every NBA assignee should do so going forward. They made the most out of the opportunity, and didn't look at it begrudgingly. As a result, the impact they made and the success they had went beyond the numbers, and the numbers themselves weren't particularly bad at all. Aside from the stat-sheet itself, teams want to see young athletes playing with energy, enthusiasm, and hungry hustle. The impression the likes of McDaniels and Harrell made could potentially lead to more minutes on the big league level sooner rather than later.
Kudos should be given to the Rockets, because they've developed a really positive culture in RGV. For years, up and coming young guns haves hit the minor league hardwood as a stepping stone for more opportunities in the NBA. The Rockets believe in the process, whether it be for nurturing "full-time" minor leaguers, or helping assignees shine in spot appearances here and there instead. Because they've shown faith in the platform, the players feel comfortable doing so as well.
This was evident in the way the team's young guns played on Sunday afternoon.