After emerging as one of the D-League's best players this season with a 27.1 points per game average, the Denver Nuggets announced they have inked Sen Kilpatrick to a ten-day contract. This comes after Denver (and representatives from just about every other NBA team, for the matter) had a closer look at him last week at the annual NBA D-League Showcase in Santa Cruz.
Such an event gives a slew of prospects the opportunity to shine. Despite how special the platform really is, one could argue that for most prospects, it won't make much of a difference in their very near future.
Of course, the D-League is all about discovering, nurturing, and developing talent in every aspect. But it doesn't just take one week of competition for these players to be seen and noticed. The scouts and executives present at the Showcase do their due diligence all season long; taking quieter scouting travel trips, watching film online, talking to those who are around said players everyday, etc. If they do happen to be impressed by a prospect for truly the first time at the Showcase, all of the aforementioned preparation is sure to follow, mainly perhaps in hopes of targeting the young gun during NBA Summer League, training camp, etc. For the more under the radar prospects, Showcase exposure doesn't normally mean a call-up is necessarily in their near future.
But alas, it pays to be a more known commodity. Kilpatrick isn't alone there. The likes of Jimmer Fredette, Erick Green, Ronald Roberts, DeAndre Liggins, and a select few others stand atop of the list of well-known prospects who, not only continue to impress, but could potentially help out an NBA team out in a pinch right away.
Because of how well they've already been playing and the previous experience they all happen to boast, NBA teams don't necessarily have to come out and scout them to see what they're made of. The executives in attendance are already well aware. Instead, it comes down to a race of who makes the first move. How long are they willing to wait? How badly does a prospective team need said prospect(s)? Up close and personal chats with the player and his minor league team's staff might still happen, but NBA teams monitor each other all the while to see just how much time they have left before they miss out. If they miss out, will they regret it, or will there another prospect available who could fill a void in similar fashion?
The Showcase isn't necessarily about discovering talent for the very near future. The talent "just" being discovered likely isn't ready to make an impact right now. Fredette is a player with obvious holes in his game, but he's rather talented and can score in bunches. He's been on the NBA stage before, which makes a player like him a much safer choice than a potential unknown, especially if a team if looking for a potential contributor, rather than a piece for the future. Teams know what he can do.
In the near weeks (and perhaps days) that follow, the NBA will likely see more familiar (than those not) faces re-join their ranks from the D-League. It didn't hurt that Kilpatrick played well in Santa Cruz, but the Nuggets likely didn't depend on a two-game sample size to decide that he was the one for them. They assumedly liked him going into it, and have since been quicker to pull the trigger than some of the other prospective teams. Being at the Showcase helps teams gauge how much longer than they to make a decision.
Taking a look at last season, just ask players like James Michael McAdoo and JaMychal Green how many offers they had before signing an actual contract during last season's Showcase. There was plenty of competition for their services.Teams knew who they were coming into the week, and made their interest known.
It'll be interesting to see which familiar faces will follow in Kilpatrick's footsteps next.