While the NBA D-League is undoubtedly often a proving ground for up and coming youngsters, it's also a place for players with a few years of experience under their belt to show notable progress. With that in mind, Nick Minnerath is quickly proving that, at 26 years old, he may still have the time and necessary opportunity to carve out an NBA future for himself.
With the Canton Charge on one hell of a hot streak, currently winners of their last ten games, Minnerath has played quite an important role all season long. Mostly one to be utilized off the bench, the forward still plays key minutes en route to posting averages of 17.6 points and 6.7 rebounds 50% shooting from the field, 40% from deep, and 90% from the charity stripe. At 6'9", it's quite rare (and arguably equally as impressive) to see a "big man" post such percentages.
Minnerath's versatility and unorthodox combination of skills draws comparisons to two very different D-League alumni --- Steve Novak and Chris Andersen. Obviously, Minnerath is a stretch four who can shoot the lights out and keep defenses honest. But on the other side of the floor, he boasts a certain mental and physical toughness that isn't commonly matched. He's physical, pestering, and asserts himself rather well down low. Minnerath isn't one to back down from challenges, and he makes an opposing shooter's life difficult. He plays with an intimidating nature on the defensive end, which is exactly what a team desires from big man defenders.
Both Novak and Andersen spent time in the D-League before going on to make notable impacts on the NBA level. Coupled with his added maturity and overseas experience to date, Minnerath may not have to spend too much more time in the minor league before he breaks into The Association next. There's surely a role for him somewhere, because he stands to add value in a number of different ways. After spending training camp with the Cavaliers last fall, perhaps this season is merely about gaining the necessary exposure he needs to be seen and convince another NBA team he's, not only worth taking a chance on, but also holding on to, next campaign.
Minnerath is already a seasoned vet in his own right, and even continues to come into his own as a player as this season progresses. In coming off the bench for Canton, Minnerath is proving he doesn't need to be utilized as a central figure to make an impact. As it just so happens, the role he's playing now is very similar to that of what he might excel in on the NBA level.
Aside from his individual prowess, Minnerath is obviously adding value to a strong team in a winning situation. His positive impact to a team like Canton should scream volumes. If he's smart, Minnerath will not plan on simply using this past D-League campaign to cash in on a more lucrative contract overseas next season, but instead capitalize on the increased awareness and notoriety he has hopefully gained across NBA circles.