Based on some conversations RidiculousUpside.com has had with the various NBA and D-League coaches, scouts, and executives who were in attendance at the minor league's Elite Mini-Camp earlier this week in Chicago, here's a look at some of the event's top performers.
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1) Aaron Craft, Santa Cruz Warriors
The point guard is already coming off an impressive season --- complete with an NBADL championship and respective Defensive Player of the Year award. He continued to turn heads in Chicago. Everyone took notice of the floor general, as he was found atop of scouting reports across the NBA following the two days. Craft ranked first in reaction shuttle, and second in 4-way agility.
2) Jonathan Simmons, Austin Spurs
The guard stood out, not only as a top performer, but a surprise one, across the league. Simmons was at the top of his game, and certainly picked the perfect and ideal time to shine. This comes off a steady sophomore season, which he closed out with a slew of strong playoff performances for Austin. Simmons was tied for third in maximum vertical
3) Jarell Eddie, Austin Spurs
Simmons' minor league teammate also impressed. This should come as little surprise, as Eddie's campaign not only included a ten-day stint with the Atlanta Hawks, but also a Three-Point Contest win during All-Star Weekend. The swingman is quickly garnering recognition as arguably the top long range shooter in all of the D-League. Such a skill isn't one that ever goes out of style in The Association. He improved his stock.
4) Brandon Fields, Idaho Stampede
Fields arguably raised his stock more than just about anyone else at the D-League event. It shows just how crucial such a platform really is. Fields proved his efficiency in being able to run the floor and serve as a playmaker for teammates. Such an assertion on the court in Chicago comes after a strong finish to the season with Stampede, where Fields received an elevated role following a midseason trade from the Grand Rapids Drive. The guard was first in vertical (no step), and tied for third in max vertical.
5) Adonis Thomas, Grand Rapids Drive
Like Eddie, Thomas is a well-rounded sharpshooting swingman with experience in the NBA already to call his own. Thomas was a D-League All-Star, and though he didn't receive another call-up this past season, it was clear many were impressed by him this week. He's a smart player who has only continued to mature. His pure skill level is heads and shoulders above many of his minor league counterparts, and NBA executives seem to appreciate that.
6) Shawn Jones, Sioux Falls Skyforce
This past season, Jones proved to be an extremely dependable player as his production continued to increase following the departures of players like Henry Walker and Tyler Johnson in Sioux Falls. His impressive athleticism was on display in full force at the Mini-Camp this week. It's clear that the forward is benefitting from a strong confidence level following an increased role in the D-League, and he's only continued to use an assertive nature on the offensive end to his benefit. Jones was tied for second in max-vertical.
7) David Wear, Reno Bighorns
There's no denying that the lack of size in the NBA D-League really helps those who actually boast it, stand out accordingly. Wear, a stretch four with impeccable shooting range for a player of his size, played well both inside and out, according to a number of coaches. Playing in Reno was a great way to showcase his strengths, but being able to shine in Chicago will go a long way for Wear, simply because he did so playing more standardized basketball, so to speak.
8) Geron Johnson, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Arguably one of the more under-the-radar players around the league coming into this week, Johnson played a reserve role for the Vipers this past season and only received marginal playing time. He's a raw prospect with a number of skills to develop, but the relative intrigue and potential for something special to form is there. An astoundingly athletic specimen, the guard was amongst the leaders across the board in max vertical, 3/4 court spin, 4-way agility, and reaction shuttle.
9) Casey Prather, Bakersfield Jam
Much like Johnson, Prather is also a freakish athlete who made the most out of his opportunity to strut his stuff at the mini-camp. According to various coaches and scouts, he played really both during drill work and game competition. Of course, this shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise, as the guard had more of an opportunity to begin displaying such prowess this past season in Bakersfield. Some believe that a player can practice to further hone their skills, and learn more off the court to become a more intelligent player with better instincts. One can't teach athleticism, however. Prather has it.
9a) Hasheem Thabeet, Grand Rapids Drive***
Thabeet's place in these rankings comes with a caveat, simply because the NBA veteran only hit the floor on day one. He sat out day two with a medical issue, according to multiple sources. Still, according to those same sources, he turned some heads when he was actually able to perform. One would think after not receiving a call-up this past season, Thabeet could go on to make decent money overseas. Following this camp, however, an NBA team may want to give him another shot. The big man was a man amongst boys, providing an absolute wall down low on the defensive end, and asserted himself offensively as well.
10) Jarvis Threatt, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
The Elite Mini-Camp is all about providing the minor league's most talented players with another opportunity to strut their stuff in front of impressive company. The NBA personnel there to observe undoubtedly do so with an eye on filling up some spots on their respective team's Summer League roster. But while watching the high-flying Threatt, everyone had a peek at a potential NBA draftee as well. The guard impressed with his athleticism, taking the cake in max vertical and ranking third in vertical (no step).
Honorable Mentions: Stephen Holt (Canton Charge), Chris Singleton (Oklahoma City Blue), Dar Tucker (Reno Bighorns), Maalik Wayns (Delaware 87ers), and Drew Crawford (Erie BayHawks).