Time for some list-making. And D-League blogger nerdiness.
In the interest of paying homage to the D-League’s role as a preparer of talent for the NBA, three of my colleagues and I have taken to ranking our top 10 D-Leaguers most deserving and/or ready for NBA call-ups at (thus far) sporadic intervals this season. While you can find our first two sets of rankings at Hardwood Paroxysm and Ridiculous Upside, we’re joining in the hosting fun this time around.
So without further ado, let’s have a look at the “two and a half weeks to All-Star” edition of the Randy Livingston Memorial “On the Edge” Call-Up Rankings, presented by Scott Schroeder and Jon L of Ridiculous Upside, fellow Mizzou man Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and yours truly. Players received 1-10 points on each of our ranking sheets, with 10 points representing a first place vote, nine a second, and so on down the line. For your viewing convenience, I have hereafter listed each participating scribe by his initials. In the rather disheartening event that this requires a key, please notify me in the comments and I will provide a legend.* Away we go…
Randy Livingston Memorial “On the Edge” Call-Up Rankings, Vol. 3
1. Mike Harris, Rio Grande Valley: 9 (JL)…10 (MM)…9 (SS)…10 (SW) *** 38
2. Carlos Powell, Albuquerque: 8 (JL)…8 (MM)…10 (SS)…9 (SW) *** 35
3. Reggie Williams, Sioux Falls: 10 (JL)…7 (MM)…7 (SS)…6 (SW) *** 30
4. (tie) Morris Almond, Springfield: 7 (JL)…5 (MM)…6 (SS)…7 (SW) *** 25
4. (tie) Dwayne Jones, Austin: NL (JL)…9 (MM)…8 (SS)…8 (SW) *** 25
6. (tie) Dontell Jefferson, Utah: 5 (JL)…6 (MM)…3 (SS)…5 (SW) *** 19
6. (tie) Rob Kurz, Fort Wayne: 6 (JL)…4 (MM)…5 (SS)…4 (SW) *** 19
8. Mustafa Shakur, Tulsa: 3 (JL)…2 (MM)…4 (SS)…3 (SW) *** 12
9. Coby Karl, Idaho: 4 (JL)…NL (MM)…2 (SS)…1 (SW) *** 7
10. Antonio Anderson, Rio Grande Valley: 1 (JL)…3 (MM)…NL (SS)…2 (SW) *** 6
Also receiving votes: Rod Benson, Reno (2); Othyus Jeffers, Iowa (1); Desmon Farmer, Reno (1) (Quick take from Matt: “Mario West got called up. If he did, Farmer deserves a burn.”)
For more chatter from the peanut gallery esteemed panel and myself about our selections, feel free to click through the jump (and be sure to play the D-League’s Virtual Scout game as well to submit your own rankings for a chance to win prizes).
1. Mike Harris, RGV (27.2 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, 64.8 percent true shooting), courtesy of Hardwood Paroxysm‘s Matt Moore: “Most Valuable in the D-League should be good enough for a bench gig, you’d think.”
2. Carlos Powell, ABQ (22.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.8 APG), from Ridiculous Upside‘s Jon L: “Powell does many things very well. He’s top 10 in the league in scoring and is averaging just under six assists per game, as many or more as some starting point guards. Just under two steals per game, again in the company of point guards. Just five rebounds a game and not much of an outside shot, but now we’re just nitpicking.”
3. Reggie Williams, SXF (26.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 67.4% TS), take it away again, Jon L: “Scott and Steve have both written about Williams recently, but in a nutshell, he’s an extremely efficient scorer, he can rebound a bit, and he’s focused more on defense recently, probably for the first time in his career. He’s carrying the Skyforce and has been for weeks. Some NBA team needs to call Williams up before Tony Fritz runs him into the ground.”
4. (tie) Morris Almond, SPG (28.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 64.7% TS), courtesy of your humble narrator: “Standing by my company line with him: In a tough spot because he won’t be a go-to guy at next level, but waaaay too talented not to get another shot.”
4. (tie) Dwayne Jones, AUS (17.7 PPG, 15.0 RPG, 61.6% FG), sorry, me again: “Large man, crashes glass, scoring (tips, put-backs) will translate.”
6. (tie) Dontell Jefferson, UTA (18.0 PPG, 5.6 APG, 56.3% TS), I’ll take a break after this one, I promise: “Has run into all kinds of scoring efficiency issues in January (slash stats of .386/.308/.828). Possibly related to rumored knee concerns that may have cost him call-up to Jazz earlier in the month? Also, yes, I did in fact just throw in a gratuitous use of baseball’s ‘slash stats’ term to refer to field-goal, three-point and free-throw percentages. Sabermetrics are cool. I miss FJM. Sue me.”
6. (tie) Rob Kurz, FWN (18.2 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 46.4% 3P, 64.1% TS), bringing us to our first words from RU‘s Scott Schroeder: “Kurz gets my mid-season award for using the D-League most effectively. Last season with Golden State, he was primarily (read: only) a pick-and-pop shooter. After that gig didn’t fly in a number of opportunities this offseason (Orlando Summer League with the 76ers/Nets combined team, Vegas Summer League with the T-Wolves, preseason with the Cavs), he came to the D-League and has worked on becoming more than a shooter. It’s actually really working. I’m not sure how much credit to give to his coach (Joey Meyer was also credited for developing Ramon Sessions while in the D-League), but Kurz is now able to score in the post and averaging over 10 boards per game as the lone bright spot for his struggling Mad Ants. Oh, and don’t worry – his 47 percent shooting from beyond the arc proves he’s still able to shoot as well.”
8. Mustafa Shakur, TUL (19.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.4 APG), Scott is rolling: “While I was quick to write Mustafa (I refuse to refer to anyone but Tupac as ‘Shakur’) off earlier this season, every time I watch him, I become more impressed. He’s an efficient scorer, an above-the-rim finisher and has held together the 66ers’ very fluid roster. Considering he’s shooting over 50 percent from the field and over 35 percent from beyond the arc and has greatly improved his free-throw shooting this month, I don’t really know what the NBA teams would be looking for that he isn’t currently bringing to the table. Defensively, he’s big enough and athletic enough that, at worst, he’s going to out-perform whichever player he’s matching up with. I can’t say he’s great on defense, but there are many worse options in the D-League.”
9. Coby Karl, IDA (4 games played, 28.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG), thoughts from Jon L: “Seeing as how I’m the guy who ranked Karl the highest, perhaps I should explain. It’s probably a stretch to say he can play three positions, but he can handle and pass the ball with some skill, he can shoot threes, and he can rebound a little bit. Karl was on Cleveland’s roster this season before getting cut just as his contract would’ve been guaranteed, and at age 26 he’d be a solid bench contributor for someone else.”
10. Antonio Anderson, RGV (16.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.1 APG), I’ll close it out: “Remember when I said he would be rising on my list every week? That was before he took a nosedive in every major statistical category in January, highlighted (lowlighted?) by swooning from 58 percent true shooting in December to 51.5 in January. Still love his long-term prospects though.”
*This is a joke. I hope. I really hope so.