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Why It’s Hard To D-Fend Vander Blue Not Being In The NBA

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Editor Dakota Schmidt breaks down Vander Blue’s current success and why he needs to be in the NBA.

Bleacher Report

Earlier this month, scouts across the NBA touched down in Mississauga, Ontario for the 2017 NBA D-League Showcase. During that five day event, hundreds of D-Leaguers worked their asses off in hopes of receiving a 10-day contract from NBA team. That process worked out for a handful of D-Leaguers as these players got called up in the days following the D-League Showcase: Johnny O’Bryant (Nuggets), Yogi Ferrell (Mavericks), Anthony Brown (Magic) and Lamar Patterson (Hawks).

As the attention was drawn to those four NBA call-ups, there’s one elite D-Leaguer that’s waiting for an opportunity to return to the Association: Vander Blue. This situation unfortunately seems common for Blue, as he’s spent most of his career just grinding in the NBA D-League. Since leaving Marquette in 2013, Blue has only played in 12 games which weren’t in the NBADL. His work away from the D-League include two separate cups of coffee with the Celtics and Lakers and a brief seven-game stint with Maccabi Rishon Lezion in Israel.

Outside of those those two minuscule stints, Vander Blue has remained one of the big mainstays of the NBA D-League. Within his time in the D-League, Blue has stood as one of the most consistently solid scorers that the NBADL has ever seen.

Over the course of his entire career in the NBA D-League, Blue has averaged 23.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game on 45% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. That consistent offensive excellence has pushed Blue to currently stand 7th on the all-time D-League scoring list, as he recently passed NBAD alum Will Conroy in the D-Fenders Sunday night victory against the Austin Spurs.

That victory against the Spurs actually capped off an amazing month for Vander Blue and the Los Angeles D-Fenders. In January, Blue has averaged 28.9 points, 2.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game on 43% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc on 6.2 perimeter attempts per game. Blue's great offensive play has been a factor behind the D-Fenders going 8-1 during the first month of 2017.

While his perimeter efficiency has been a solid factor behind his offensive success, Blue has been consistently able to frustate the opposition by his ability to get to the free throw line at a ridiculously high rate. Over the course of January, Blue has averaged a league-high 11.2 free throw attempts per game. From the charity stripe, Blue has made 84% of those free throws which is a pretty efficient average considering the high volume of attempts.

Blue's knack of getting to the charity stripe has a lot to do with his smooth ball-handling skills that allows him to move his way past most perimeter defenders. Even after that initial victory, Blue is able to maneuver his way around the restricted area in a way that pushes most defenders to foul Blue rather than allow him to get the easy layup or dunk. Blue’s great ball-handling skills are seen in the video below.

After seeing him shine in the D-League for the better part of four seasons, it might seem silly to hope that an NBA team will take a chance on Blue. However, that’s the wrong mindset to have when you talk about Blue as he just seems to continue to improve on a month-by-month basis. Despite his status as a D-League veteran, Blue is still 24-years-old and only about five months older than current Bucks standout rookie Malcolm Brogdon.

While Vander Blue will probably go down as one of the best scorers that the D-League has ever seen, the best is yet to come for the young guard. Hopefully that future success is seen in the NBA.