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2016 NBADL Eastern Conference Draft Recap

Contributor Francis Adu breaks down how the Eastern Conference squads did in Sunday’s NBA D-League Draft.

Anthony Brown Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers): Roosevelt Jones, F, Butler (no. 19 overall), Amere May Jr., G, Delaware St. (no. 62 overall), Stedmon Lemon, G/F, Johnson C. Smith (no. 81 overall), Chip Armelin, G, Southern Mississippi (no. 98 overall), Anthony Odunsi, PG, Houston Baptist (no. 101 overall), Trey Davis, PG, Massachusetts (no. 112 overall)

Famous for his buzzer-beating floater to sink 8th ranked Gonzaga in the ’12-’13 NCAA season, stocky Butler forward Roosevelt Jones joins the Charge as perhaps the ultimate stereotype of a glue guy. Jones is a jack-of-all-trades except for long-range shooting and utilizes a unique floater-and-runner game to negate his usual size disadvantage in the paint.

Amere May Jr. will quickly become a Canton favorite if he can at all replicate the explosive, confident scoring that led to his 21 ppg season at Delaware State in ’14-’15.

Stedmon Lemon hopes to make a tasty citrus drink out of his NBADL opportunity and help put HBCU alma mater Johnson C. Smith University on the map with his smooth body control in mid-air.

Chip Armelin yields not only an awesome name for a F. Scott Fitzgerald bit character but also a good combo of size & quickness as a ball-handler.

Anthony Odunsi offers even more size to the Charge’s ball-handler cache and definitely knows how to use that 6’4”, 210 lb. size to rack up free throw after free throw.

Rookie guard Trey Davis may have walked out of UMass with unassuming stature, but he shows no proclivity to fearing opponents on the court whose statures do assume.

The Charge went perimeter-heavy for their sizeable draft haul with perhaps the potential need of a backup point guard on the Cavs roster in mind. May, Armelin, Odunsi, and Davis may await a fierce battle royal for minutes on the court in the guard rotation. However, any combinations of the four guards are likely to leave Canton with capable floor generals and bucket-getters.

Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers): Brannen Greene, SF, Kansas (no. 7 overall), Benito Santiago, Jr., SG, Cumberlands (no. 38 overall), Grandy Glaze, F, Grand Canyon (no. 51 overall), Christian Macauley, PF, Texas A&M-Commerce (no. 70 overall)

Brannen Greene sopped up few minutes as a bit player in the Kansas Jayhawks rotation all three of his years. However, the small minutes total could still definitively confirm Greene’s superb shooting stroke as a 6’7” wing. Greene still is yet to turn 22 years old and may yet expand his skillset with an opportunity for increased minutes on the 87ers. But even as is, Greene could prove useful to almost any team, NBA or NBADL, as long as his threes continue to rain in.

Benito Santiago Jr. did well to inherit his MLB All-Star father Benito Sr.’s athletic gifts and has done even better to use them every chance he gets. Santiago will be a regular in the Delaware skies to repeatedly attempt highlight dunks.

Grandy Glaze offers soft hands and touch around the rim to satisfy newly-hired 87ers head coach Eugene Burroughs with consistency.

Andrew Macauley will hope to act as the 87ers’ own version of Nerlens Noel and perhaps join Benito Santiago Jr. in the Delaware skies for pogo-stick dunks and blocks.

The 87ers seem to have placed a primary emphasis on athleticism in the draft. All four picks should be more than capable of keeping pace physically in their new forays into the NBADL. The 87ers’ transition offense could become dominant.

Erie BayHawks (Orlando Magic): Anthony Brown, SF, Stanford (no. 1 overall), Markus Kennedy, PF, SMU (no. 23 overall), Shane Richards, SG, Manhattan (no. 24 overall), Shevon Thompson, C, George Mason (no. 33 overall), Davonte Lacy, SG, Washington St. (no. 37 overall), Aaron Cosby, SG, Western Kentucky (no. 45 overall), Brandis Raley-Ross, G, South Carolina (no. 104 overall)

First overall pick Anthony Brown spent his rookie year as a Laker with only a peek into the D-League during the ‘15-‘16 season. Brown struggled with his previously reliable 3-point shot ditching him throughout the year. However, Brown still showed enough flashes of his 3-and-D potential to make several Lakers fans sad to see him waived. With a chance to rediscover his shooting touch for the BayHawks this upcoming season, don’t be surprised if a bounce-back with his impressive catch-and-shoot form leads to the adoration of BayHawks fans and Orlando Magic executives.

Rookie Markus Kennedy walks onto the BayHawks with already the game of a veteran. Kennedy instantly becomes one of the higher-IQed players in the NBADL with scarce instances of panic or confusion apparent in his play. Whether smoothly maneuvering in the low post for buckets or absorbing contact to draw a litany of fouls, Kennedy could bring a sense of reliability to northwestern Pennsylvania.

The BayHawks picked sharpshooter Shane Richards immediately after Kennedy. Richards earned his Manhattan career made 3-pointers record with clever off-ball movement and a capability to fire off his threes off the bounce or in transition.

Shevon Thompson already offers outstanding effort rebounding off the glass. However, the former George Mason center tantalizes more as a blank slate that may have much room to grow after picking up the sport late. Thompson’s solid mobility could lend itself to dangerous screen-and-roll effectiveness and capable defensive switching when the time arises.

Davonte Lacy and Aaron Cosby match Shane Richards by both serving as professional marksmen from long range at the shooting guard position. Lacy also comes with the benefit of getting off his jumpshots even in isolation possessions.

With multiple impressive seasons playing in Estonia and the Baltic Basketball League, veteran guard Brandis Raley-Ross will hope to emulate his microwave scoring for the BayHawks.

The BayHawks added prolific shooting to the initial roster while balancing risk and security perfectly with the dependable Brown & Kennedy and the raw, energetic center Thompson.

Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers): Travis Leslie, SG, Georgia (no. 4 overall), Adam Woodbury, C, Iowa (no. 20 overall), Chris Fowler, PG, Central Michigan (no. 29 overall), Jordan Loyd, G, Indianapolis (no. 48 overall)

Out of the draft pool, Travis Leslie by far has had the most accomplishments in the NBADL. A former NBADL All-Star MVP and All-NBADL Third Team member with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Leslie makes his return to the league after three successful seasons playing in Lithuania. Leslie remains the same ridiculously explosive finisher at the rim from the ’12-’13 season so the Mad Ants fan base can expect fireworks this season.

7-footer Adam Woodbury is best known for his game-winning tip-in to beat Temple in overtime in the 2016 NCAA Tournament First Round. Woodbury was a highly regarded high school recruit due to his size and mobility, which allows for a possibly stellar pick-and-roll defender. Unfortunately, Woodbury is held back as a rim protector by his relatively short wingspan for a center. But it can be argued finding a center with mobility is even harder to find than a center with condor arms.

Chris Fowler left an impressive legacy at Central Michigan but perhaps can accomplish even more supplementing Travis Leslie. Fowler potentially offers the Mad Ants a rare floor general that can also create his own shot if Fowler keeps up his productive ways as a rookie.

Jordan Loyd likely will serve the Mad Ants and coach Steve Gansey best as a confident shooter with parking lot range.

The Mad Ants had a light draft haul in terms of volume this go-around but likely offsets the scarcity with stardom in Leslie and achievable promise in Woodbury, Fowler, and Loyd.

Grand Rapids Drive (Detroit Pistons): Chris Horton, PF, Austin Peay (no. 5 overall), Shannon Brown, SG, Michigan St. (no. 41 overall), Pat Forsythe, C, Akron (no. 50 overall), Zeke Upshaw, SG, Hofstra (no. 69 overall), Ladarius Tabb, Alabama A&M (no. 91 overall), Matthew Adekponya, G, Australia (no. 105 overall)

Despite “only” being 6’8”, 200 lb., Horton has made a name for himself as a dominant interior presence in the Ohio Valley Conference. Horton overcomes his smaller size with a hyperactive motor and stellar jumping skills. The intensity he plays with leads to multiple trips to the free throw line for him. The jumping skills lead to dominant offensive rebounding and impressive rim protection from the Georgia native. Time will tell if the rookie Horton can dominate the same way versus the higher-level NBADL competition.

Shannon Brown may serve as the most recognizable NBA retread in the draft pool after 408 career games in the senior circuit. Brown isn’t even a stranger to the NBADL with 12 appearances acquired there. Brown hopes to prove he’s rather gained more experience and not yet declined as a 30 year old. If successful, expect several 20-point games for Grand Rapids. Plus, Brown might be able to convince multiple-platinum R&B singer Monica to do a favor for her husband and sing the National Anthem at Grand Rapids games. Who doesn’t want that (besides maybe Brandy)?

Grand Rapids invested in one of the few true centers in the draft pool, Pat Forsythe recently of Akron. Forsythe has impressive leaping ability for his size and utilizes it well for quite capable rim protection. Forsythe will cause nightmares for opposing players’ frolics into the paint.

Zeke Upshaw should be anxious to prove his dribble penetration abilities as a perimeter wing can translate from the Colonial Athletic Association to NBADL-level competition. If it does and his jumper improves its consistency, Upshaw can serve as a true crunch-time scorer who won’t mind carrying an offense when he’s on.

Ladarius Tabb has enough athleticism to soar for stellar dunks and could menace on fastbreaks if unleashed. Tabb also has enough athleticism to be able to be molded into a defensive stalwart with more coaching.

Matthew Adekponya may soon earn fan-favorite status in the state of Michigan after the Grand Rapids fanbase witnesses his energetic presence on the court. Adekponya has quickness and leaping ability to marvel at. Adekponya and his dreadlocks are quite fun to watch as he jets across all inches of the hardwood.

Besides selecting the former NBA player Shannon Brown in the 2nd round, Grand Rapids did well to scour the fringes of the basketball universe to give opportunities to the works-in-progress Horton, Tabb, and Adekponya. A solid blend of familiarity and adventure.

Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets): Shonn Miller, SF, Connecticut (no. 13 overall), Ky Howard, G, NJIT (no. 35 overall), Mike Anderson, SG, Washington (no. 57 overall), Ron Mvouika, SG, St. John’s (no. 76 overall)

Shonn Miller showed no signs of being overwhelmed by the adjustment from the Ivy League to the AAC, which bodes well for both Miller and the Ivy League’s progresses. Miller has a track record of consistent solid play from the forward position. Miller will want his three-point shot to not regress to its form back in Cornell. However, Miller’s solid IQ and physical stature should serve him well on the defensive end and offer a decent floor for his offensive potential. Miller could easily find himself making a cameo with the Hornets at the end of the season if injuries or playoff seed clinching occur early.

Ky Howard makes up for a lack of explosiveness with nifty movement on and off the ball to create his space. He’ll have to cut down his turnovers but point guards with his combo of size and intelligence are rarities.

Mike Anderson finally gets a chance at a full season in the NBADL after a 5 minute cameo with Raptors 905 last season. Anderson’s best bet for a role on the Swarm will be as a focused and attentive perimeter defender who finishes his chances on the offensive end with low usage.

Mvouika would also do well to transition into a low-usage fastbreak attacker and committed wing defender. The more refined shot selection could make the French immigrant quite the 3-and-D weapon for the Swarm.

Possibly related to the parent Hornets’ glut of frontcourt players, the Swarm stuck to building a well-balanced perimeter rotation. Howard gives the team a player who can consistently run the offense. Miller should bring reliability while Anderson & Mvouika offer the forever coveted 3-and-D potential to slot perfectly in the lineup.

Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets): Boris Dallo, PG, Olympique Antibes (France) (no. 14 overall), Trahson Burrell, SF, Memphis (no. 36 overall), J.J. Moore, SG, Rutgers (no. 58 overall), Palpreet Singh Brar, PF/C, India (no. 77 overall), Austin Witter, SF, North Carolina A&T (no. 97 overall)

Boris Dallo is perhaps the most fascinating newcomer of this upcoming NBADL season. A 22 years old 6’6” athlete who can legitimately run an offense and guard point guards tends to understandably attract eyes and intrigue. Dallo has the usual hangups of the giant point guard in that he has yet to establish a threatening perimeter shot. However, Dallo in the open floor should terrify Long Island opponents multiple possessions a game.

Trahson Burrell may look like a stick figure on the court but his unselfish, energetic play covers much of his strength disadvantage on the wing. Oh, and his ability to take off from nearly anywhere for slams helps too.

J.J. Moore still needs much development of his basketball instincts and intelligence after his 4-year career at Pitt and Rutgers. However, there is no denying the man has every physical tool a coach could want in a perimeter wing.

Palpreet Singh Brar embodies the heartwarming opportunity for breakthrough that the NBADL gives many basketball players. Singh Brar grew up working on his family’s wheat farm since the age of 6 in Doda, India. Former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw discovered and handpicked Singh Brar for future pro success via the ACG NBA Jump Program talent search in India. Singh Brar offers a throwback burly power forward frame at 6’9” 250 lbs. How the rather inexperienced 22-year old will fare developing an effective role for the Nets is yet to be seen. But Singh Brar will be rooted on for greatness every step of the way.

HBCU alum Austin Witter represents the only draft pick of the Nets with any prior NBADL experience. Witter offers rare shot-blocking proclivity from the small forward position. As he has historically struggled with any shot from range, it may behoove Witter to add more pounds to his 6’8” 195 lb. structure and function best as a smallball 4.

Long Island invested heavily into players with upside and athleticism. Given the slowly rebuilding state of the parent Brooklyn team, the draft picks can be seen as projects for the NBA down the line more than ready-made day-one contributors for Long Island.

Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics): Dallas Lauderdale, PF/C, Ohio State (no. 6 overall; received in trade from Fort Wayne), Joe Thomasson, G, Wright State (no. 42 overall), Isiah Umipig, PG, Seattle (no. 46 overall), Ricky Tarrant, PG, Memphis (no. 63 overall), Andrew McCarthy, C, Massachusetts (no. 82 overall), Tommy Mason-Griffin, PG, Oklahoma (no. 102 overall)

Dallas Lauderdale hopes to have his 2nd stint in the NBADL go as well as his first season there. In ’13-’14, Lauderdale led the entire NBADL in total blocks and True Shooting Percentage as a member of the Idaho Stampede. Lauderdale with his 7’7” wingspan can easily repeat the feat again.

Joe Thomasson plays with a complete lack of fear for contact, especially when driving towards the rim. This admirable aggression often leads to turnovers when his 6’4” 170 lb. body can’t handle the strength of the forwards and centers inside. However, it also gives Thomasson a reliable method of racking up free throws and breaking down defenses to use his underrated court vision.

Isiah Umipig turned heads overseas as the lead guard for the Slovakian team Komarno. Umipig is undersized at 6’0” but quite strong for his size and can use his body to shield the ball for space. That ability to create space combines with a quick-firing jumper for a dangerous backcourt scorer. Next step for Umipig is to improve in getting the offenses he runs into better flows.

Ricky Tarrant probably loves his jumper from beyond the arc a bit too much but fills up the points column when hot. Tarrant attend three different schools during his NCAA career and encouragingly performed reasonably well at all three. Tarrant should at least have a decent floor as a solid guard off the bench for the Red Claws.

Andrew McCarthy is mostly an enigma. The 7-foot center only played 22 minutes in 2011-12 to represent his entire NCAA career after walking on to the UMass basketball team. However, as the saying goes, you can’t teach size. Who knows? Maybe the center will surpass the Brat Pack actor as the most famous Andrew McCarthy when the dust settles.

Tommy Mason-Griffin dazzled in his only season at Oklahoma as a breathtaking ballhandler and deadeye pullup shooter. Unfortunately, those two gifts didn’t overcome his 5’11” unathletic body in the eyes of NBA scouts when he declared early for the 2010 NBA Draft. Mason-Griffin would follow his undrafted status with an unimpressive 58-minute stint in the NBADL the next season to muddy his waters further. However, Mason-Griffin comes back for another chance after playing overseas in the German Bundesliga. It remains to be seen if Mason-Griffin can dazzle the crowd once again.

The Red Claws stocked up in small scoring guards to scurry around the draft centerpiece of Dallas Lauderdale. Whether McCarthy makes for a second centerpiece or a bench filler remains to be seen.

Raptors 905 (Toronto Raptors): Goodluck Okonoboh, UNLV (no. 32 overall; received in trade with Salt Lake City), Antwaine Wiggins, G/F, Charleston (no. 43 overall), JT Terrell, SG, USC (no. 71 overall), Ethan O’Day, PF, Vermont (no. 72 overall), Kendall Williams, PG, New Mexico (no. 73 overall), Keala King, SG, Pikeville (no. 96 overall)

Goodluck Okonoboh fits the archetype of the tremendously raw but imposingly lanky rim protector. Okonoboh only managed to play six games in his sophomore season at UNLV before leaving the school midseason. A sophomore making the leap to NBADL remains a daunting task for many, but Okonoboh has truly game-changing shotblocking ability. That alone is worth the shot for someone special.

Antwaine Wiggins probably can’t wait for folks to stop asking him if he’s related to Andrew. However, if you watch Antwaine in Argentina, it is a bit difficult to not compare the two Wiggins’ pull-up jumper comfort, formidable low post scoring, and smooth body control. Of course, Antwaine shouldn’t be expected to be as good as Andrew, especially at age 28. But that doesn’t mean he won’t show out in Andrew’s home country of Canada.

JT Terrell comes to Raptors 905 as a North Carolina high school legend. Terrell earned fans for his thrilling and unpredictable scoring prowess to pair with his breathtaking athleticism. Unfortunately, Terrell couldn’t keep up the same scoring prowess in his three years at Wake Forest and USC. But hopefully, Terrell has learned even more tricks to his deep bag to make his return to prominence.

Ethan O’Day concluded a very impressive four-year NCAA career as one of the University of Vermont’s all-time greatest players. O’Day brings a soft touch around the rim and promising defensive know-how to Mississauga, Ontario.

Point guard Kendall Williams tends to flash the full spectrum of skills and gifts at disjointed moments. This unreliability, despite his impressive resumé at New Mexico and many talents, has kept Williams out of the NBA and led to a disappointing run with Pesaro in the Italian Serie A. However, no one doubts how awesome Williams can be the few times he gels all his gifts together.

Keala King succeeds via proactivity and intelligence rather than any physical skill. King is a poor shooter and is often physically limited in his forays to the basket. However, King can get himself to the rim and get the ball in his teammates’ hands way more often than you may first expect.

Outside of the developmental project Okonoboh, Raptors 905 went heavy with experienced veterans and proven NCAA impact players. The strategy aligns sensibly with the parent Toronto team’s win-now window.

Westchester Knicks (New York Knicks): Max Hooper, SG, Oakland (no. 16 overall), Lasan Kromah, SG, Connecticut (no. 60 overall), Dane Miller, SF, Rutgers (no. 99 overall), Jason Carter, PF, Texas Southern (no. 108 overall), Bobby Ray Parks, Jr., SG, Philippines (no. 113 overall)

Max Hooper shoots threes. Expect nothing less and nothing more. Hooper made it through 1,709 career NCAA minutes with just 11 field goal attempts inside the arc. Fortunately, Hooper is good at making those threes. Watching Hooper is a perverse joyride into the extremities of basketball.

Lasan Kromah has a solid framework to be a good perimeter defender with his prototypical wing size & athleticism and his quick hands for steals. Kromah also feels comfortable ball-handling a bit and looking for passes for teammates, although his decision-making isn’t always sound. What is most encouraging for Kromah’s future though is how his jumper progressed in his time playing for Kavala in Greece. If Kromah can provide even a small threat from behind the arc, Kromah not only could break out in the NBADL but also have Phil Jackson calling.

Dane Miller spent the past two seasons of the bench for the Oklahoma City Blue in a bench role. Like Kromah, Miller should demonstrate impressively on the defensive end for the Knicks. However, while Miller’s length and athleticism have been as enticing as they were in his time in Rutgers, his poor jumpshot and rudimentary offensive skills also remain as they were in Rutgers. Still, Miller as a lockdown defender to deploy is worth having in the Westchester rotation.

Jason Carter has the hops to perform a between-the-legs dunk at 6’9”, 240 lbs. Carter only seems impactful on the fastbreak until he remedies his poor shot selection and lack of awareness on both ends. But Westchester has enough athletes to make the transition game a mainstay in the team gameplan.

Bobby Ray Parks Jr. did well enough for himself as the second Filipino player to ever play in the NBADL last season. With the Texas Legends, Parks showed he had the quickness to get by his man and get to the basket. Now, with Westchester, Parks will hope he can stand as a better threat without the ball and with passing.

Westchester selected quite a few specialists in the draft with the possible exception of Kromah. It is with Kromah where the biggest upside for a steal can occur. But, even besides Kromah, the rotation should have capable contributors.

Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls): Aaron Thomas, SG, Florida St. (no. 12 overall), Sterling Gibbs, G, Connecticut (no. 44 overall), Chauncey Collins, PG, TCU (no. 56 overall), Anthony Lee, PF, Ohio St. (no. 75 overall)

Aaron Thomas acts as a very solid foundational piece to steady the Bulls roster. Thomas has shown capable in almost every area of the game besides perhaps shooting. Of course, that is a pretty big “perhaps” to be shaky with and Thomas will need to ensure the Bulls he can remain consistent with it. Thomas does not have any standout skills to be ready-made for a NBA rotation. However, that does not mean Thomas will not have skills to torment NBADL opponents.

Sterling Gibbs makes most of his impact with his jumper whether spotting up or rising off the dribble. Gibbs will also be able to push the ball in transition and attack aggressive closeouts off the dribble but his smooth, compact jumpshot is the key. Not a dynamic role player but one almost every team needs.

Chauncey Collins gives Windy City fans a score-first small guard with dynamic quickness and elevation. Naturally, Collins’s 6’0” height hampers how effectively he can finish over the giants around the rim. Yet Collins mitigates the issue a bit with a capable pull-up jumpshot. Next step for the 21-year old will be learning to search for better looks for his teammates rather than forcing difficult shots on his own.

Anthony Lee had an effective bounce-back season as a rotation bigman for Furstenfeld in Austria. This bounce-back came after a disappointing season in Ohio State following his transfer from Temple. Lee showed progress defensively as a rim protector and returned to his normal activity on the glass at Furstenfeld. Lee still shouldn’t be relied on with the ball in his hands for the Bulls but he can finish the easy baskets and has a developing perimeter jumper to deal with.

The Bulls opted for a solid backcourt rotation with Thomas, Gibbs, and Collins in the mix. The backcourt players should all be able to offer a scoring threat with the ball in their hands. With Lee, the Bulls hope he’ll serve as a capable janitor, cleaning up any blown assignments defensively or any missed shots offensively.