The 2015 NBA D-League Elite Mini Camp, which features some of most intriguing and brightest up and comers the minor league is already underway. Taking place Monday and Tuesday in Chicago, the camp serves as an appetizer to the NBA Draft Combine later in this week; this provides a slew of NBA coaches, scouts, and executives alike with an opportunity to get a closer look at the cream of the crop of the D-League. This proves to be all the more crucial with NBA Summer League just two months away.
Led by longtime D-League coach Bob MacKinnon, a group of top notch minor league head coaches and assistants will help the group of prospects through drills, workouts, and game competition for all to see. Here's a look at how the group of forty breaks down:
NBA alumni: While many minor leaguers are still on the grind, hoping to acquire their first taste of The Association, more than a handful of big league alumni are taking part in this session as well. This proves just how valuable the opportunity to be seen here in Chicago really is. Those hitting the hardwood this week, who have previously caught on with NBA teams in the past, include Marquis Teague, Andre Dawkins, Justin Dentmon, Jarell Eddie, Taylor Griffin, Alex Kirk, Chris Singleton, Hasheem Thabeet, Adonis Thomas, Maalik Wayans, and David Wear.
Award-winners: Much like those who have already graced the NBA stage, one would think some of the D-League's top award winners over the years have already gotten their names out there to an extent. Already a well-known commodity, what you see is often what you get. Still, as the opportunity to prove themselves all over again presents itself, certain talented prospects prove to be up to the task. Past award-winners participating in this year's camp include the league's current Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Craft, 2011-12 Most Valuable Player Justin Dentmon, and 2010-11 Most Improved Player Dar Tucker.
D-League All-Stars: Again, some of the league's more talented and already proven studs are skeptical to attend the camp ---- this could be because it may jeopardize an already existent NBA Summer League arrangement, or perhaps more commonly, they might not want to underperform due to an expectation that's been set by their previously evident impressive play in the past. Having said that, a small group of past D-League all-stars have still ventured out to compete in Chicago. Those to have earned such midseason honors include Justin Dentmon, Adonis Thomas, and Talib Zanna.
Hopeful NBA Draftees: As the D-League goes on to grow and continues to be utilized and well-recongized as an asset for and by NBA teams, proving one's self at the minor league level in hopes of getting drafted into the NBA the following summer is becoming an increasingly popular trend. Seemingly hoping to follow in the footsteps of youngsters like PJ Hairston (Hornets) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Knicks), who both set the standard last summer, Jamal Jones of the Delaware 87ers and D-League Slam-Dunk Contest champion Javis Threatt of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers are also participating this week. They obviously hope to garner a different type of consideration than the rest.