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Let’s Appreciate Some D-Leaguers From Years Gone By

In a spin off of the “Let’s Appreciate Some G Leaguers” series, we look at three players that impressed back when the it was known as the NBA Development League

Iowa Energy vs. Springfield Armor Photo by David Calvert/NBAE via Getty Images

Adonis Thomas - Springfield Armor/Grand Rapids Drive

After two years with the University of Memphis, Adonis Thomas decided to sign with an agent and declare for the 2013 NBA Draft. That decision despite the fact that he wasn’t considered to be a top 100 player from outlets like ESPN. While these types of decision are much more common nowadays since the inception of two-ways and exhibit 10s, it was way more rare back in 2013.

A few months following that decision and unsurprisingly not getting selected in that year’s NBA Draft, he made his way to the D-League as an affiliate player for the Springfield Armor after getting waived by the Brooklyn Nets. During that first year, Thomas was absolutely outstanding by exhibiting himself as a phenomenal 3-and-D wing by averaging 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists on 46% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc on 3.5 attempts per game. Those numbers were good enough to allow him to be part of the All-Rookie 1st Team.

With the Armor moving from Springfield to Grand Rapids during the summer of 2014 to become the Drive, Thomas was able to hitch a ride on that journey. Now with Grand Rapids, the wing was able to build on that solid rookie year to become one of the better prospects in the league. Yet again headlined by a strong long-range jumper, he averaged a career-high (college and D-League) 18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 43% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on 6.4 attempts per game for the team.

Despite two strong seasons and only being 22-years-old following the 2014-15 season, his career in the United States would come to an end. In the five years since he last dribbled a ball on a D-League floor, he’s played in countries like Italy, Turkey, Germany, France, and Mexico. Although it’s unlikely that the now 27-year-old player will return to the States, his two years with Grand Rapids and Springfield will always make Thomas a player from the past worth remembering.

Dee Bost - Idaho Stampede

In the days before D/G League games were on outlets like Facebook or the ESPN family of networks, the only real way to watch D-/G League games were on the channel’s YouTube account. During that YouTube era, the 2013-14 Idaho Stampede stood as one of the more entertaining teams to watch. Although that might not make sense when you look at how they finished 24-26 for the year or were mediocre on both ends of the floor, it would when you had a chance to watch them play and witness their electric backcourt.

From a scoring perspective, that core was led by Pierre Jackson and Kevin Murphy, who both shined as guards that can put the ball in basket in numerous ways. Although they were both able to create their own shots, their statuses as 25+ point per game scorers was helped by the passing skills of 6’2 guard Dee Bost. Thanks to a knack of being able to pass in drive-and-kicks, on the perimeter, or working it to roll men, he was able to shine as the league’s best facilitator in the 2013-14 season by averaging 8.4 assists per game with a solid 2.6 Ast/TO ratio.

Although he stood out as a fantastic facilitator during that 2013-14 season, Bost’s inefficiency as a scorer, that forced him to maintain a lackluster 47% True Shooting Percentage, prevented him from getting called up to the NBA. While he wasn’t able to make his NBA dreams come true, the guard has still been able to make a solid career for himself overseas. Over the last six years, he has made his way around Europe playing in nations like Turkey, Poland, France, and Russia.

Marcus Landry - Reno Bighorns

After using the last segment to talk about a pass-first guard in Dee Bost, let’s make a return with talking about wings that were capable of making it rain from deep. Way back during the 2012-13 campaign, there might have not been anybody better at that than 6’7 Reno Bighorns wing Marcus Landry. During that campaign, he stood out by 16.5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block on 44% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc on 8.5 attempts per game.

To put that great shooting in perspective, the next best shooter that was 6’7 or taller was Micah Downs from the Maine Red Claws, who shot 38% from beyond the arc, a five percent drop from Landry’s performance. Landry’s status as a phenomenal perimeter shooter helped push the BigHorns’ offense as they were almost seven points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court (102.4 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the sidelines (95.6 points per 100).

Despite clearly shining as a tremendous threat from deep, he didn’t receive a call-up during the season. That might honestly be an example of bad timing as the three-point revolution would begin a few years later when Golden State’s long range attack took over the NBA. If he was a 27-year-old forward that was shooting at that level in 2016 or 2018, there’s no question that he at least would’ve received a 10 deal from a team looking for a shooter to place on that bench. Alas, the Milwaukee-born wing would spend the rest of his career playing overseas in countries like Spain, Germany, and South Korea.