MVP: Briante Weber - Sioux Falls Skyforce
Have there been players in the D-League that have put up more eye-popping offensive statistics than Briante Weber? Yes. Has there been a D-Leaguer that’s been able to make the all-around impact of Briante Weber? Absolutely not. Whether it’s through his facilitating or standout on-ball defense, Weber stands as a player that can just anger an opposing team on any given possession.
A lot of the opposing team’s anger comes from when Weber is working on the defensive end as he has this incredible ability to force turnovers, evident by him averaging 3.1 steals per game. Even outside of his ability as a ball-hawk, Weber has paired up with Keith Benson to arguably become the best defensive duo in the entire NBA D-League.
On the other end of the court, Weber continues to impress due to his standing as a consistent double-double threat. Averaging 16.6 points and 7.2 assists per game on 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc, Weber has finally been able to showcase himself as a player that can kill you with an incredible pass or perimeter jumper.
Even more important than his versatility, Weber has helped push to become the thrid-best team in the NBA D-League. Over the course of the season, Weber helped Okaro White to be an NBA call-up while also being there as Patrick Miller has suddenly turned into one of the biggest surprises in the entire NBADL.
Defensive Player of the Year: Eric Moreland - Canton Charge
This award could be given to either Dakari Johnson or even CJ Leslie without drawing any complaints. Both players currently stand as two of the more dominating defensive players in the D-League and the linchpins of the best and 2nd-best defenses in the entire NBADL. However, this honor goes to Eric Moreland due to how big of an impact that he’s had on the Canton Charge’s defense.
That impact is evident even when you look away from his 2.25 blocks per game, opponents are a lot worse when Moreland is on the court compared to when he’s on the sidelines. Per 100 possessions, opponents average 99.2 points when Moreland’s on the court compared to 102.4 points when he’s sitting on the sidelines. While that may not seem like much, those three points per possession is the difference between the Charge between the 2nd best to 7th best defensive team in the entire D-League.
Rookie of the Year: Abdel Nader - Maine Red Claws
Honestly, Briante Weber wasn’t having the type of season that he’s having, I’d probably have Nader listed as the midseason MVP due to how fantastic he’s been with the Maine Red Claws. From the moment that he first put on a Red Claws jersey, Nader has stood as unique D-Leaguer due to his status as a 6’9 forward that can consistently hit perimeter jumpers while also occasionally as the team’s main facilitator.
That perimeter acumen is evident by him shooting 40% from beyond the arc on 5.7 perimeter attempts per game, which allows him to be one of the more efficient perimeter shooting forwards in the entire D-League. Coinciding with that, Nader has really made some advancements as a facilitator over the past month or so. Since the turn of the new year, Nader has averaged 4.9 assists per game. Most of that facilitating is done through drive-and-kick efforts as Nader is an incredibly solid ball-handler for a 6’9 forward.
During the first two months of his pro career, Nader has already shown himself to be the player that can impact a game in a variety of different ways. That impact is seen by him currently averaging 22.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 49% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. While he’s currently putting up those great numbers with “Red Claws” strapped in front of his chest, Nader should be well on his way to shining in the NBA before you know it.
Most Improved Player: Devondrick Walker - Delaware 87ers
While I thought long about potentially giving this nod to Patrick Miller due to his recent success with Sioux Falls, Walker has gone from a D-League benchwarmer to one of the best perimeter shooters in a span of only one year. At this point last year, Walker was sitting on the end of the Westchester Knicks bench where he was only playing 14.8 minutes per game where he averaged 4.8 points on 38% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc.
Following that rough 2015-16 season, Walker started out the current season in a fantastic ways where he put up 10.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per game on 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. While that may not seem like much, it’s a steady improvement over the prior season. However, Walker’s season really started to when he was traded to the Delaware 87ers on December 14th.
From the moment he landed in Delaware, Walker seemed to immediately stand out as one of the best perimeter shooter in the NBA D-League. In his 14 games with the 87ers, Walker has averaged 14 points on 51% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc on 5.4 perimeter shots per game. That perimeter efficiency has pushed Walker to maintain a jaw-dropping 67% True Shooting Percentage.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Crawford - Grand Rapids Drive
Note: To qualify for this award, a player has to come off the bench in more games than he starts.
Among the three-headed backcourt monster that’s currently pushing the Grand Rapids Drive to D-League respectability, Jordan Crawford has been the anchor. While he’s come off the bench in 17 of the Drive’s 25 games, Crawford has been the main anchor of the team’s offense due to him averaging a team-high 23.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game on 47% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc.
Crawford’s offensive excellence has pushed the Drive to be better when he’s on the court compared to when he’s on the sidelines. Per 100 possessions, the Drive put up 110.1 points compared to 104.1 when he’s on the sidelines. Those six points per 100 possessions is the difference between the Drive maintaining the 3rd best offense and the 11th best offense in the NBA D-League.
Coach of the Year: Jerry Stackhouse - Raptors 905
From the moment that he was hired by the Raptors 905 on September 9th, he immediately became one of the more well-known people to ever sit on the sidelines as a D-League head coach. That acclaim is due to him spending 18 years in the NBA which included two All-Star appearances in 2000 & 2001.
However, Stackhouse was able to quickly push that past on-court success aside from the moment that he coached his first game with the 905. From the jump, Stackhouse pushed the Raptors 905 into being one of the best teams in the D-League as they currently sit with an impressive 20-7 record.
Much of that success is due to the 905 turning into a hard-nosed defensive squad that’s focused on preventing the opposition from ever getting an easy look, whether its from inside the paint or beyond the arc. That defensive effort is evident by opponents averaging only 99.6 points per game against the 905, which allows them to be the 2nd best defense in the D-League.
Obviously, there’s still have a lot more basketball left to in the 2016-17 season, but it’s safe that Raptors 905 have established themselves as one of the elite teams in the D-League. While much of that credit goes to the Raptors 905’s roster, I don’t think the team would be where they’re at today if Stackhouse wasn’t the team’s head coach.