The NBA D-League unveiled its annual "Select" team, set to compete at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas over the next week and a half. This year's "Coach of the Year" award winner, Scott Morrison of the Red Claws, will serve as head coach and will be joined by the assistants from his staff in Maine. The roster can be found below, as per the league's press release:
Including players from 10 NBA D-League teams, four members of the 2015 Select have NBA experience: Justin Dentmon (Texas Legends), Taylor Griffin (Santa Cruz Warriors), Scotty Hopson (Sioux Falls Skyforce) and Hasheem Thabeet (Grand Rapids Drive), the second-overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft. Griffin, a member of the 2015 NBA D-League Champion Warriors, will join forces with 2014 NBA D-League Champion Matt Bouldin (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), having most recently faced each other in the 2015 NBA D-League Finals.
Maine Red Claws head coach Scott Morrison, the reigning Dennis Johnson NBA D-League Coach of the Year, will lead the Select team in Las Vegas. Morrison, whose Red Claws amassed a franchise-best 35 wins last season, will be joined on the sidelines by Seth Cooper (Maine), Nate Mitchell (Maine), Shaun Fein (Maine) and AJ Diggs (Maine), while Brady Howe (Idaho Stampede) and Jonathan Mak (Bakersfield Jam) will serve as the team's athletic trainers.
Beauty is obviously in the eye of the the beholder, but one could argue that this is the most talented D-League Select Team put together in a number of years. Led by Conner Henry last season, there's no doubt that the minor league often aims to construct a team that can certainly compete. This year is no different, but it appears as though they've even taken things a step further, for the better.
There's always a certain debate when it comes to the D-League Select Team as it relates to Summer League. Is it better for such prospects to catch on with an NBA club and hope to impress the coaching staff enough to warrant a gig for training camp? Allowing an organization to get to know them in a more intimate setting, see their effort in practice, and more, could pay dividends in that regard. At the same token, they'll also be faced with playing behind some of the team's already present rookie and sophomore players.
On the D-League Select Team, minutes are easier to come by and roles are clearly defined. Talent rules all. What's more, there's something to be said about finding success after coming together as underdogs, if and when the Select Team can string together a few victories. It's seemingly more impressive when it happens, because of that given mentality heading in.
The D-League's squad is often a landing spot for some of the more veteran players in the league, not only because it presents them with more playing time, but also because NBA teams sometimes turn their backs on more proven players to focus on the development of younger ones.
Such a trend appears to continue as the likes of Taylor Griffin, Matt Bouldin, Hasheem Thabeet, and Justin Dentmon highlight the roster this time around. Nevertheless, the increasing popularity and success of the D-League Select Team in recent seasons might be appealing to younger players as well. This year, the minor league was able to reel in a talented duo from Bakersfield in Joe Jackson and Casey Prather. Daniel Coursey, Davion Berry, and Cam Ayers are all on the younger side as well.
The team is likely expected to put forth a balanced effort with multiple contributors stepping up to fill voids in different ways. That said, one of the most impressive grabs for this squad is Scotty Hopson. The swingman was knocking on the NBA's door all season long, and emerged as a staring attraction for the Sioux Falls Skyforce following the call-up of Henry Walker. He's a strong rebounder for a player his size, but could also very well end up leading his summer squad in scoring.
All in all, consider this a job well done by the D-League. They've put together a versatile group that figures to compete and put forth a respectable effort. While the veterans are certainly present, they didn't fall short of securing natural talent, either.