Do fans of the NBA Development League watch The Price is Right? Are ontestants on The Price is Right hardcore D-League fans? Is this guy’s bid the equivalent to Gordon Haywood’s shot going IN against Duke in the national title game? How many questions can I write before you wonder if this post is going anywhere?
The 2011 NBA D-League Showcase tipped off yesterday with four games that included some terrific one-on-one showdowns and a buzzer beater overtime finish that may or may not have been worth $23,743 (OK, it wasn’t, but it was still exciting). With NBA executives looking on and determining whether they should bid or pass on potential call-up candidates, there’s a lot at stake in the Showcase games beyond the final score.
I’m treating each game like an episode of The Price is Right, complete with a Showcase Showdown Winner (player of the game) and runner-up, a spin of the wheel to represent the game’s overall quality ($1.00 is perfect, but of course you already know that), and a section I’m calling “Help Control the NBA’s Youth Population” discussing assigned players active in the Showcase. Read on for reaction to of all of yesterday’s games and the top performers from day one of the 2011 D-League Showcase.
Sioux Falls Skyforce 83, Tulsa 66ers 103 | Box Score
Showcase Showdown Winner: Latavious Williams. The 66ers forward notched his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He continues to play hard and produce at the D-League level. Ultimately, he will be judged as a failure or success based on whether he materializes as an NBA player or not, but he’s made some great strides in his time with the 66ers after coming straight out of high school last year.
Runner-Up: Larry Owens. His stats were not great: 14 points on just 5-14 shooting, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, but the offense looked better when he was involved and it’s not surprising that Tulsa was +20 points when he was on the court.
Spin of the Wheel: $0.75. The game was competitive until Tulsa closed the third quarter on a 17-5 run. The Skyforce suffered a league-worst 15th loss whereas Tulsa won their seventh straight to improve to 15-6, which is best in the West.
Help Control the NBA’s Youth Population: Dexter Pittman of the Miami Heat went for 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Skyforce. Cole Aldrich had 12 points and 4 rebounds for the 66ers.
Utah Flash 93, Iowa Energy 95 OT | Box Score
Showcase Showdown Winner: Othyus Jeffers led all scorers with 27 points, but his 17 rebounds—despite being listed at just 6’5″—really showed why he’s one of the top D-League prospects on the cusp of a call-up. He’s now averaging 20.3 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals per game.
Runner-Up: Courtney Sims. The former D-League MVP took advantage of his size advantage against Utah, scoring 25 points on 7-13 shooting, 11-13 from the free throw line. His biggest bucket came on the final play of regulation, as he took the inbounds pass with 0.4 seconds left, turned and hit a jumper from the top of the key to send the game to overtime Sims also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Energy.
Spin of the Wheel: $1.00. Sims’ buzzer beater in regulation negated Orien Greene’s steal and layup that put Utah up two with less than a second to play. But both plays were topped by Curtis Stinson’s overtime buzzer beater to give Iowa the win. Stinson’s shot erased the memory of a 9-turnover game for the Energy point guard.
Help Control the NBA’s Youth Population: Iowa recalled Garret Siler from the Phoenix Suns prior to this game. For Utah, Pape Sy of the Atlanta Hawks saw just 10 minutes of game time. He didn’t take a shot and recorded just 1 rebound, 2 turnovers and 3 fouls in his limited time on the floor.
Texas Legends 94, New Mexico Thunderbirds 95 | Box Score
Showcase Showdown Winner: Last year at the D-League Showcase, the world learned that Dar Tucker can jump. This year, Tucker debuted in the Showcase with a new team—the New Mexico Thunderbirds—and made noise with his jumper rather than his jumping. He connected on 5-6 from 3-point range and 10-16 overall to lead New Mexico with 28 points while adding 10 rebounds and 3 assists.
Runner-Up: Joe Alexander recorded a double-double for the Legends with 21 points, 10 rebounds. He also had 6 of Texas’ 16 blocked shots in the game. Alexander has been very productive this season playing at the power forward position, and he is one of the top call-up candidates playing in the Showcase.
Spin of the Wheel: $0.90. Yes, it was a one-point game, but no one scored in the final 1:42 in the game, so the conclusion was a bit anticlimactic.
Help Control the NBA’s Youth Population: N/A
Fort Wayne Mad Ants 97, Rio Grande Valley Vipers 100 | Box Score
Showcase Showdown Winner: Jeff Adrien has only been with Rio Grande Valley for five games. In those five games since arriving in a trade from Erie, he’s had four double-doubles, including 30 points and 12 rebounds last night against the Mad Ants. The former Golden State Warrior has been a rebounding machine in the D-League this season, averaging 9.7 rebounds per game in his quest to get back to the NBA.
Runner-Up: Oliver Lafayette. The Mad Ants guard scored 21 points in 24 minutes on 6-12 shooting.
Spin of the Wheel: $0.85. This game featured two evenly matched teams. It showed in the court, and it shows in their records. Fort Wayne now sits at 12-8 whereas RGV is 12-7 after the win. In addition to the players already mentioned, this game featured former call-up Mustafa Shakur and high-scoring Rod Wilmont.
Help Control the NBA’s Youth Population: N/A
Come On Down: Tomorrow’s Schedule (All Times Eastern)
12 p.m. Dakota Wizards vs. Austin Toros (NBA TV)
2:45 p.m. Springfield Armor vs. Utah Flash (NBA TV)
5:30 p.m. New Mexico Thunderbirds vs. Maine Red Claws (NBA Futurecast)
8:15 p.m. Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (NBA Futurecast)