In the constantly changing landscape that is the NBA D-League, it's a challenge for a franchise to keep a solid core of players for an extended period of time. On a game-by-game basis, teams seem to see some of their biggest stars leave town via an NBA call-up or a pursuit of a more lucrative offer with an international club. However, the Los Angeles D-Fenders currently stand as one of the biggest exceptions to this rule
While success has escaped the D-Fenders during the current season, they can promote the fact that they possess a handful of the most promising and exciting prospects in the league. As of this post, the D-Fenders currently have four players (Jamaal Franklin, Roscoe Smith, Jabari Brown and Vander Blue) who can be looked at as viable call-up candidates. Within that solid core of players, the duo of Brown and Blue definitely stand out from the pack, as they both lay claim as being two of the league's most dominant scoring threats.
Since his time with Missouri, where he lead the entire SEC conference in scoring during his final season with 20 PPG, Jabari Brown has been looked at as a dominant scoring threat. Despite that reputation, Brown remained an unsigned commodity after being in training camp from the Los Angeles Lakers. Following that release from the Lakers, Brown signed on with the LA D-Fenders, where he hasn't looked back since.
Anchored by a quick and smooth shooting stroke, Brown has continued to stake his claim as one of the league's most dominant scoring threats throughout the season. That shooting stroke has lead to Brown maintaining a respectable 38% three-point shooting percentage, which only trails Vander Blue among the D-Fenders current rotation players.
In addition to his his impeccable shooting stroke, Brown maintains a quick first-step which allows him to be an effective half-court penetrator. After breaking away from the opposition, Brown can either lace up a running floater or drive directly to the rim. Brown has been able to maintain that consistency as he moves closer to the paint, as he's shot 62% from inside the restricted area.
As his scoring prowess has elevated his status as one of the league's best scorer, he's yet to develop as a facilitator (averaging a lackluster .75 Ast/TO ratio), which could hinder his potential as an NBA prospect. Although Brown has failed to develop that skill set into his all-around game, his back-court partner has helped pick up the slack.
Despite being listed as a 6'5 shooting guard, Vander Blue has been positioned as the D-Fenders' main facilitator. That transition has definitely worked out, as he's averaged six assists over the last 10 games. As someone who was only looked at as a scorer since his time with Marquette, Blue displays excellent court vision, which has lead to some incredible looking passes.
In addition to rising up as a distributor, Blue has developed into one of the more well-rounded scoring threats in the entire league. Although he can definitely square up and hit the perimeter jumper (shooting 40% from beyond the arc), his main offensive strength rests with being able to glide his way to the paint, and ultimately get to the free-throw line. Within the last 10 games, Blue has averaged 8.6 free throw attempts per game, which is only exceeded by Jabari Brown.
In the times where Blue is unable to make his way to the charity stripe, he still remains successful from around the restricted area, where he's finished 202 attempts from the rim at a 66 percent clip.
Although success has yet to come for the LA D-Fenders, the duo of Brown and Blue has helped make them into one of the most entertaining teams in the D-League. While that entertainment value has yet to translate into on-court success for the team, there's no doubt that both Jabari Brown and Vander Blue will continue to amaze D-League audiences for the remainder of the season.