During this past Monday and Tuesday, the best D-League talent made their way to Chicago to compete in the NBADL Elite Mini Camp. Dating back since 2010, the NBADL Elite Mini Camp has been the biggest venue for D-League talent to showcase their talent in front of a variety of NBA scouts. Althoughthis event has always featured solid D-League players, the talent level in this year’s festivities was undoubtedly the highest it’s ever been.
That claim is backed up by the variety of NBA alums (Darius Morris, Russ Smith and John Jenkins) and elite D-League players (Jameel Warney, Alfonzo McKinnie and Shevon Thompson) that made their way to Chicago for the NBADL Elite Mini Camp.
To firmly place the event in the rear view mirror, let’s take a look at the six D-Leaguers that shined brightest during the NBADL Elite Mini Camp.
Will Davis - Reno Bighorns
15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds on 75% from the field in four games
In the closing weeks of the 2016-17 season, one of the D-Leaguers that shined brightest was Reno Bighorns forward Will Davis. Within the final ten games of the season, Davis exploded as he put up 21.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game on 67% from the field.
Like most standout bigs, a lot of his offensive damage came as a roll man in pick-and-rolls where he did a great job working with Isaiah Cousins. Coinciding with that, he also dominated on the offensive glass as he averaged a tremendous 3.1 offensive boards during the final ten games of the season.
Those skills came in handy during the NBADL Elite Mini Camp as Davis stood out as a phenomenal offensive weapon. While he didn’t shine as an offensive rebounder, as he only collected five rebounders during those four games. However, Davis stood as arguably the most efficient scoring threat during the NBADL Elite Mini Camp.
Darius Morris - RGV Vipers
13.5 points and 4.7 assists on 52% from field
Stud RGV Vipers point guard Darius Morris entered the NBADL Elite Mini Camp on a mission to show that he had what to took to warrant a return to the Association. “This is a gateway, you have these thirty teams and all you need is one team to take a chance on you””, Morris said in a recent interview with guest Ridiculous Upside writer Vijay Vemu.
That mindset was apparent on Monday and Tuesday as Morris helped guide his temporary squad to a 3-1 record. Morris was able to do that in the same ways that allowed him to push the RGV Vipers within reach of being D-League champs.
As a facilitator, Morris did his best to get his teammates involved, whether that was working with Shevon Thompson or Jameel Warney. Coinciding with that, Morris repeatedly found a way to make his way to the FT line as he shot 86% from the charity stripe on four attempts per game.
Perry Ellis - Greensboro Swarm
20 points on 63% from the field
After a career at the University of Kansas that felt like it lasted since the Reagan administration, Perry Ellis entered the NBA D-League and had a solid rookie season. With the Greensboro Swarm, Ellis stood as one of the squads top role players as he averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on 2.2 perimeter attempts per game.
While some players would be satisfied with those results, Ellis entered the NBADL Elite Mini Camp to show the world that he was better than being a D-League role player. He accomplished that goal as he average 20 points per game on 63% from the field, which stood as the highest average among NBADL Elite Mini Camp participants.
Those averages become even more impressive when you realize that Ellis shot 50% from beyond the arc on four perimeter attempts per game. That statistic alone could really push Ellis towards possibly getting a two-way contract in the upcoming season as NBA teams are always interested in having a stretch big or two in their rotation.
John Jenkins - Westchester Knicks
14.7 points on 53% from the field
As one of the more experiences players invited to Chicago, John Jenkins needed to shine brighter than most to be able to catch the attention of NBA scouts. That was due to most NBA squads being very familiar with Jenkins as he spent the last four years with both the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns.
While Jenkins didn’t put up the biggest numbers, Jenkins definitely impressed during both days of the NBADL Elite Mini Camp as he averaged 14.7 points per game on 53% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc. That perimeter success is the continuation of an ongoing trend for Jenkins after he shot 38% from beyond the arc during his time with the Westchester Knicks. As we enter the offseason, Jenkins will hope that his efficiency as a perimeter shooter will lead to a return to the NBA.
Shevon Thompson - Erie Bayhawks
11.7 points and 7.5 rebounds on 54% from the field
In a similar form to Bighorns’ forward Will Davis, Erie Bayhawks big Shevon Thompson really stood out in the final stages of the D-League season. In the last five games, Thompson put up 17.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game on 61% from the field. Those numbers immediately pushed Thompson from a role player to one of the best bigs in the NBADL. He accomplished that by being an absolute force on the offensive glass as he collected 4.2 offensive rebounds per game during that time span.
Thompson work as an offensive rebounder carried over to the NBADL Elite Mini Camp as he collected 3.25 offensive boards per game. Coinciding with that, Thompson impressed as a rim protector as he averaged two blocks during those four games.
Jordan Loyd - Fort Wayne Mad Ants
15.5 points per game on 55% from the field
If there’s one player whose career has really improved the most during the past year, it’s probably Mad Ants guard Jordan Loyd. When he initially entered the D-League, Loyd stood as this unknown player that played a D-II squad in Indianapolis. However, he quickly came on as an amazing scoring threat for the Mad Ants as he averaged 15.1 points and 4 assists per game on 44% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc. Those numbers actually pushed Loyd to become one of the biggest contenders to be our NBADL Rookie of the Year, an award that was won by Jalen Jones and Abdel Nader.
Loyd’s impressive play continued into NBADL Elite Mini Camp as he put up 15.5 points on 55% from the field. As you can see from the clip below, Loyd is able to shine in a variety of different ways on the offensive end from working as a mid-range shooter, on-ball cuts, transition drives or just spotting up and hitting a perimeter jumper.
Although it’s extremely tough to predict what stands in a D-League player’s future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land on an NBA roster if he can continue to develop as an offensive player.