One of the most positive aspects of the NBA D-League is that it allows lesser-known players an opportunity to grow and progress on a larger stage. Over the last few years, current NBA players like Jarell Eddie, Willie Reed and Langston Galloway have used the D-League to showcase their skills which ultimately led them to them getting the gigs in the Association that they have today.
Bakersfield Jam guard Xavier Munford is hoping to follow in their footsteps. Coming into this week's D-League Showcase, Munford was able to establish himself as one of the elite point guards in the entire D-League. Averaging 20.4 points, 4 boards and 6 assists on 50% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc.
That production comes as a bit of a surprise for Munford, as he was mainly known as an explosive cutter during his time with Rhode Island and initial season with the Jam. Prior to this season, the best that Munford shot from beyond the arc was 34% during his junior season at Rhode Island. Alongside that, Munford never averaged 3 or more assists per game.
However, that's changed as Munford has seemingly reinvented his game to the point where he's a well-rounded offensive threat. While that explosiveness is definitely there, as Munford continues to cut to the paint whenever he wants, he's continuing to showcase that he can score in a variety of ways. As evident from the following shot chart, Munford is pretty efficient from all aspects of the floor, especially from the perimeter.
His improvement is due to Munford just exuding the idea that he's the most confident player on the court. Although confidence can definitely become detrimental (i.e Nick Young), Munford has seemed to have done a nice job of utilizing that confidence to create situations in where he'd be able to get open looks. That is evident from how he can break down his opponent to drive towards the paint or unleash a smooth perimeter jumper. Those traits have pushed Munford to maintaining an impressive 60% True Shooting Percentage.
Alongside his improvements as a scoring threat, Xavier Munford has also evolved into being a pretty solid facilitator. While he still forces his fair share of turnovers (averaging 3.38 turnovers per game), Munford's still able to constantly exhibit that he has solid court vision. That's especially noticeable when he's working his way towards the paint. In the process of cutting, Munford has an innate ability to make great passes to a big or a teammate stationed out on the perimeter.
With NBA teams now eligible to offer 10 day contracts, it's very possible that Munford gets plenty of big league looks throughout the remainder of the season. As teams like Utah, Houston and Indiana look for additional point guard help, Munford should be one of the first players to pop up in conversation. From an offensive perspective, Munford might be the most well-rounded point guard in the D-League based on his skills as a facilitator and incredible offensive efficiency.
Those skills were well displayed on Bakerfield's battle against Maine. Despite losing to the Red Claws, Munford showed off that solid offensive skill-set as he had an 18 point and 11 assist on 6-14 shooting outing. While not hitting a single three-pointer, Munford displayed an ability to finish around the rim in traffic. Alongside that, Munford only forced one turnover, which was probably the best thing that he could've done in front of a handful of NBA scouts.