As the NBA world turns their attention to the start of NBA Free Agency and the massive contracts that have continuously been doled out over the past 36 hours, hundreds of aspiring players will be making their way out to Utah, Vegas and Orlando with the hopes of landing on an NBA roster. While those players come from many different avenues (NBA Draft, overseas or young NBA prospects), the majority of those Summer League participants stand as D-League alums. With the Orlando Summer League starting today, we take a look at some of the NBADL alums that could potentially make their way onto an NBA roster.
Vander Blue - Dallas Mavericks
Out of the hundreds of unsigned players competing in Summer League, there might not be a player more hungry for an NBA opportunity than Vander Blue. Since going undrafted in 2013, Blue has stood as a fixture of the NBA D-League having played with four different squads (Delaware, Maine, Idaho and Los Angeles). Despite that journeyman status, Blue has stood as arguably the best scorer that the league over those three seasons, averaging 23 points and 4 assists per game on 45% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. Despite being a solid perimeter shooter, Blue's main method of attack is cutting, due to his nice handles and solid quickness that allow him to drive whenever he wanted.
Those skills could land him a spot on the Mavericks roster, as the team has a limited supply of back-court options. Blue's addition could give the Mavericks a solid scoring presence, as he stands as a versatile option due to his array of abilities: cutting, perimeter shooting and facilitating.
Jordan Bachynski - Detroit Pistons
In a league with a limited amount of solid front-court options, Jordan Bachynski was able to stand out as one of the best. That was due to his ability as a 7'2 big that can contribute on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Bachynski made an impact by driving to the paint, working in post-ups on the right block and using his frame to collect offensive boards (averaged 2.7 offensive boards per 36 minutes). His frame and mobility also helps him work as a defensive stopper, as Bachynski averaged 3.1 blocks per 36 minutes.
Unfortunately, with the wide array of bigs on the Pistons roster, it seems unlikely that Bachynski will be signed by the Pistons. However, there's still a chance that we could see him on an NBA roster come next season. Despite the continued progression towards small, there still could be a role in the NBA for Bachynski, a mobile 7'2 big with solid defensive instincts.
Jaron Johnson - Indiana Pacers
Early in the 2015-16 season, I wrote a piece on RGV Vipers guard Jaron Johnson on being a potential NBA call-up candidate. While he never got called up, Johnson had a solid season with the Vipers as he averaged 18.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 44% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc. In that piece, I explained that Johnson established himself as a versatile offensive weapon due to this ability as a cutter, facilitator and solid perimeter weapon.
While the Pacers have already spent time this off-season fixing their backcourt, with the recent acquisition of Jeff Teague, they could still use a solid 3-and-D weapon for their 2nd unit. Standing at 6'6 with a 6'8 wingspan, Johnson would seemingly be able to defend multiple positions from point guards to some small forwards.
Vince Hunter - Los Angeles Clippers
During the initial three months of the season, there wasn't a better forward in the entire D-League than Vince Hunter. With the Reno Bighorns, Hunter averaged an impressive 21.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game on 60% from the field. Hunter was the ultimate example of that classic power forward as he stood as a tenacious rebounder and a terrific rim-runner as he used his length and incredible athleticism to get an advantage over the opposition.
With those skills, Summer League might be the perfect outlet for Hunter as the games are heavy on transition and pick-and-roll based offense. A solid summer league showing could allow an NBA squad to shoot him a non-guaranteed contract.
Rodney McGruder - Miami Heat
Although it may be a weird thing to label a D-Leaguer, Rodney McGruder was definitely underrated last year. With the Skyforce, McGruder established himself as a solid 3-and-D wing, averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game on 51% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. Those averages also allowed McGruder to be one of the most analytically-friendly players in the NBADL, as he maintained a 61% True Shooting Percentage and averaged 1.34 PPS (Points Per Shot). To put that in perspective, Raptors All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan averaged 1.33 PPS last year.
As we've seen in the past with Robert Covington, teams are willing to look towards the D-League for a cheap 3-and-D option. While teams around the NBA are currently looking at some of the bigger NBA free agents to help get that fix, McGruder could potentially get a call down a line from a team looking for additional wing depth.