As the NBA season goes on, there will be many opportunities for call-ups and 10-day deals due to various roster moves and injuries. With 75 percent of the call ups from the Development League being from the backcourt it is easy to forget all the premier frontcourt talent that is out there. While affiliated players like Jordan Stokes and Jordan Mickey garner the most attention, there are plenty of quality non-affiliated frontcourt players in the D-League that are deserving of NBA roster spots.
Alex Stepheson, Forward, Iowa Energy
The former USC Trojan has had a professional career that has taken him all over the globe. Unlike traditional prospects, Stepheson has spent time Greece, Slovenia, and Turkey but it has only helped him develop into the double-double, low-post monster that he is today. He is currently averaging 15.3 points, a NBADL leading 13.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assist-per-game and at the age of 28 offers a mature low post presence that would be valuable to any NBA franchise. In 24 games played he has failed to reach double figures in rebounding only four times, a feat that is impressive at any level.
Stepheson is a real throwback type power forward in today's game. What he lacks in perimeter game he more than makes up for with his dominant inside play. He shoots an efficient 57.9 from the floor because he only takes good shots around the rim, usually off of the pick and roll or an offensive rebound. He provides exactly what teams are looking for in a backup power forward — hard work, efficient shooting, and reliable rebounding.
Ronald Roberts, Forward, Raptors 905
Teams that are looking for a complete big man should look no further than Ronald Roberts because he has the total package. Although he is slightly undersized at 6'8'' he makes up for it with his amazing motor and nose for the ball on both offense and defense. Since joining the 905 in late November he has averaged 18.8 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists-per-game and has had several huge games for the struggling 905.
Roberts is one of the few players on this list that could become a starter one day at the next level. He has routinely been a 20 and 10 type player for the 905 and has the potential to be very effective in the NBA. Much like Stepheson, what he lacks in perimeter game he makes up for with dominant play in the post. His best game of the year came against the Westchester Knicks where he finished with 21 points, 20 rebounds (nine offensive rebounds), two steals, one block and shot 57.1 percent from the floor. In that game he demonstrated exactly what he can offer teams, rebounding on both sides of the ball and smart shot selection around the rim.
Vincent Hunter, Forward, Reno Bighorns
After going undrafted out of UTEP in this year's NBA Draft, Vincent Hunter spent time with the Sacramento Kings in the preseason but was waived and eventually found his way to the Bighorns. Since landing in Reno he has been dominating the Development League. He is currently ranked fifth in points with 22-per-game, third in rebounds with 11.2-per-game, and seventh in blocks with 1.7-per-game.
His best game came early in the season against some prime competition in Robert Upshaw and the Los Angeles D-Fenders. In that game he scored 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting, 24 rebounds, one assist, two steals, and two blocks in 39 minutes of action. Almost all of his points came from the free-throw line and right at the rim, showing his ability to get offensive put-backs and create his own shot in the paint. He would be a great sign for any team that is looking to add a quality backup frontcourt player.
Omari Johnson, Forward, Maine Red Claws
Omari Johnson had spent time in both Canada and Spain before getting drafted by the Maine Red Claws in 2014. After that he had a brief stint with the Portland Trail Blazers but soon found himself back in the D-League and has been leading the Red Claws this season. What has been most impressive is how he has looked in comparison to some of the elite assignees from the Boston Celtics. Right now he is averaging 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists-per-game in 26 minutes of action.
Although he shares the court with the likes of Jordan Mickey most nights he can still take over games with his three-point shooting. Against the Delaware 87ers he had a great night, scoring 24 points on 40 percent shooting from distance and 53.3 percent overall to go with nine rebounds, two steals, and one block. This is a good sample for what he can do at the next level. Coaches at the next level will love his ability to accept a role and his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting.