As one of the more familiar faces, a key role player in the NBA over the last decade, one might have considered Ryan Gomes above hitting the minor league hardwood. But following an absence from The Association last season, that's exactly what he did.
Aside from two games overseas last season in which he was used sparingly, Gomes mostly sat out the 2014-15 season. Having been such a common figure in the NBA for so long, it's not as though NBA executives forgot about the forward or his respective capabilities. But in case they were left wondering previously, the 33 year old proved as a member of the D-Fenders that he certainly has plenty left in his basketball tank.
Joining Los Angeles shortly after the new year, Gomes went on to average 18.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 31 contests. He clearly used his rugged frame and veteran know-how to pull down the boards and have his way inside against opposing defenders. His experience was an obvious asset. What's more, he proved to be an unselfish player over the course of the campaign, dishing out the rock around the perimeter from down on the low block, ensuring Los Angeles kept opposing defenses on their toes with contributors around the perimeter.
If that wasn't enough, the sweet shooting stroke Gomes became known for as an NBA pro was proven not to have faded away. He's got it, having posted shooting percentages of 48% from the field, 37% from deep, and 86% from the charity stripe. Gomes' respective prowess proved vital to the success of the D-Fenders, as the title contender posted a 18-13 record with the veteran in uniform.
For his respective efforts, and an ability to positively leave his fingerprints all over the team's success throughout, Gomes has earned himself RidiculousUpside.com's Impact Player award for the 2015-16 NBADL campaign.
He should be given a lot of credit for proving his worth once again and using the D-League to do it. It'd be nice to see Gomes make an NBA return at some point next season.
Runner-up for RU's Impact Player award: Russ Smith, who averaged 27.9 points for the 87ers, but only appeared in 22 contests.