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.