Note: This piece is the continuation of your coverage of the 2017 NBA D-League Showcase. To look back on our recap of Day One of the NBADL Showcase, click on this link to read about the five best performers of that day.
Alec Brown, Windy City Bulls - 14 pts, 15 rebs, 6 blks on 6-16 from field, 2-6 from 3
In the debut matchup on Thursday afternoon, the Windy City Bulls clobbered the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in a 102-78 victory. A huge factor behind the Bulls’ victory was the great defensive performance by Windy City big Alec Brown. With a strong 7’1 frame and quick feet, Brown did a great job throughout the game of denying any scoring opportunity that the Mad Ants thought they had.
While he wasn’t totally efficient on the offensive end, Brown was still able to make contributions through offensive rebounding. Collecting seven offensive rebounds against Fort Wayne, Brown did a great job of giving Windy City plenty of second chance opportunities.
Patrick Miller, Sioux Falls Skyforce - 29 pts, 4 rebs on 12-21 from field, 2-4 from 3
When scouts across the NBA arrived to Mississauga to watch the Sioux Falls Skyforce, they probably arrived there to scout Briante Weber or Keith Benson. However, little-known guard Patrick Miller was the one that took over during the team’s hard-fought victory against the Reno Bighorns. Miller was able to put up most of his 29 points in an old-school way through on-ball cuts and mid-range jumper.
While his approach might not be appealing to the analytically-minded basketball fans, he was still to do a great job of creating consistent offense in a game where they matched up against a Bighorns squad that can score in bunches on any given night.
Abdel Nader, Maine Red Claws - 29 pts, 7 asts, 5 rebs on 10-20 from field, 6-10 from 3
In the Red Claws’ victory over the Canton Charge, Abdel Nader showcased to NBA scouts that he might be too good for the NBA D-League. On Thursday afternoon, Nader just looked a step or two above competition as he did a terrific job of working as the team’s point forward. Within that role, Nader did a great job of regularly getting into the teeth of the Charge’s defense as he was able to drive-and-kick it out to one of Maine’s many perimeter shooters.
On the topic of perimeter shooting, Nader had six of the team’s 21 perimeter jumpers. When he wasn’t working the drive-and-kick, Nader showed himself as a lethal perimeter shooter that was able to make 3’s whether or not he had a hand in his face. Nader had such a solid game as a shooter that his sixth perimeter jumper of the game actually pushed the Red Claws to victory.
Eric Moreland, Canton Charge - 22 pts, 11 rebs, 7 blks on 10-11 from field, 2-4 from FT line
While Nader spent the game shining as a terrific perimeter and facilitator for the Mad Ants, Eric Moreland took control of the Charge’s standout rim protector. Over the course of that game, Moreland did an amazing job of preventing the Mad Ants from getting any action from inside the paint. In a similar way to how we described Alec Brown, Moreland was able to defend the paint through quick footwork.
On the other end of the court, Moreland did a great job of showing versatility as he shined as a PnR big and a low-post scorer. While working in those pick-and-rolls, Moreland was regularly able to move from the perimeter to the paint quicker than most front-court players whether they’re in the D-League or NBA.
Dakari Johnson, Oklahoma City Blue - 25 pts, 13 rebs, 4 blks on 8-16 from field, 9-10 from FT line
To close out the slate of Thursday games, Dakari Johnson capped off a front-court heavy day by having a terrific double-double performance in OKC’s win over the Santa Cruz Warriors. In a similar vain to Moreland and Brown, Johnson did a lot of his work by combining his strong frame with great mobility. For a man that stands 7-foot and 255 pounds, Johnson is shockingly quick as he’s occasionally able to move down the court faster than some wings.
Johnson used that quickness to his advantage on Thursday night as his smooth footwork allowed him to have more than a handful of easy buckets from around the rim. Even when he wasn’t able to get those easy points, Johnson was still able to shine as his soft touch around the rim proved handy in post-up looks.