By all accounts, Lester Hudson’s stay in the NBA D-League will be a short one. But that won’t make his performance over the next two nights any less important.
Sent to the Maine Red Claws from the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, the rookie guard is expected to play in both ends of a two-game set in Erie tonight and tomorrow as well as Saturday’s game against Fort Wayne before rejoining the big club this weekend.
As is the case for so many in the D-League, Hudson won’t make his mark simply by filling up the box score three times in four days.
During his two seasons at Tennessee-Martin, Hudson averaged 26.6 points per game, led his conference in scoring in each campaign and finished in the nation’s top 10 average scorers both years. That he did it on better than 57 percent true shooting and shot more than 37 percent from beyond the arc and 85 percent from the charity stripe didn’t hurt either. He filled it up at the collegiate level and did so efficiently.
But the Celtics didn’t bring Hudson in with the 58th pick in this year’s draft to be a big-time scorer. With all five starters averaging in double-figure scoring and Rasheed Wallace not far behind at 9.6 points per game (plus Eddie House chipping in 7.1 of his own), the men in green need not rush to add much more shooting in volume. What kept Hudson on the roster coming into the 2009-10 NBA campaign was the Celts’ need for insurance behind Rajon Rondo.
That’s all the more important now that Marquis Daniels is out for the immediate future with a wrist injury. Though 6-foot-6 and a swingman by trade, Daniels had been serving as de facto ball-handler for the Celtics’ second unit, thus allowing Eddie House to function off the ball, a role for which House’s skill-set (read: shooting) makes him better-suited. Without Daniels, the Celtics find themselves quite short in terms of true facilitators for their second unit. Tony Allen steps in to take some of Daniels’ minutes, but his trouble handling the ball combined with his penchant for dribbling with his head down and giving the rock to the other team make him a less-than-ideal choice to run the offense. House has done an adequate job as the primary backup point at times during his tenure in green, but again, he becomes a more valuable asset when he isn’t expected to bring the ball up or distribute but instead can focus on drifting to open spots on the perimeter and burning opponents from the outside via the catch-and-shoot.
All of this brings us back to Hudson. His job is to show that he can run a team because that’s what the Celtics may need him to be able to do. Forget for a moment that there is a jump from playing at UT-Martin to playing in the D-League and an even larger jump from UT-Martin to the Association, so how much of his scoring ability will transfer to the next level of basketball remains in question. It doesn’t matter. Not right now, anyway. Hudson, whom at least one scouting report pegged early in his senior year as possessing mediocre ball-handling skills and speed, needs to show that he can help create opportunities for those around him without turning the ball over with abundance. He needs to make smart decisions with the ball in his hands. He needs to use his length (listed at 6-3 and possessing a sizable wingspan) to cause defenses problems offensively and to make his man tentative with the ball at the other end.
Given the lack of playing time he is receiving with the Celtics, any chance to get some run is significant for Lester Hudson. But this one is especially important because it will give Hudson further opportunity to focus on turning himself into an NBA-level point guard. The points – of which Hudson may well be able to score more than a few at this level – are nice, but it’s what he does in every other facet of the game that will be most important to determining his value to the Celtics.
If the 1972 Miami Dolphins had played in the NBA D-League instead of the NFL, they would be opening their bottles of champagne now. The D’s last remaining unbeaten, the Iowa Energy, fell in Sioux Falls last night, 109-99. Credit the Skyforce for picking up the slack in the absence of big-time scorer Reggie Williams, as three starters (David Bailey, Joe Krabbenhoft and Keith Brumbaugh) all went for at least 20 points.
Unfortunately for those Dolphins, they did play in the NFL, and the Colts and Saints have yet to facilitate the annual celebration.
Props to Austin center Dwayne Jones, who busted out for a monster 27 points (10-for-13 from the field) and 24 boards in the Toros’ win in Albuquerque last night. That’s a whale of a game right there.
Along with Hardwood Paroxysm‘s Matt Moore and Ridiculous Upside‘s Jon L. and Scott Schroeder, I participated in ranking the top call-up candidates in the D-League this week. Ridiculous Upside will have the results of this week’s voting posted later this morning, and we’ll have a link as soon as that goes live. Be sure to check it out!
UPDATE: Here’s the link to the rankings over at RU.