Opening night was a mixed bag for the eight NBA players on assignment in games last night, while the D-League’s lone call-up of the young season didn’t see any action.
Despite losing, RGV’s duo of Scott Machado and Donatas Motiejunas played like the most talented players on the floor in their game against Bakersfield. In equal measure, however, they also showed why they were playing in Hidalgo and not Houston. Consider: the most glaring error in Machado’s game is the fact that he knows that he’s a skilled passer, which can lead to trouble when he tries to fit the ball into a tight window. As a result, the net gain of his 8 assists was mitigated by 7 turnovers. Meanwhile, Motiejunas also had the turnover bug, coughing it up 5 times. D-Mo’s talent to score and handle the ball is evident, but he has to assert himself down low and make a concerted effort to box out if he wants to make it back to the NBA sooner rather than later.
For the Maine Red Claws, Kris Joseph showed off his ability to create his own shot and get to the basket, along with a willingness to crash the offensive boards. He only turned the ball over once, and looked adequate in man-to-man defense – a major concern after spending four years in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone at Syracuse. His teammate (and fellow former member of the Orange) Fab Melo didn’t fare quite as well. Melo looked passive for long stretches, and while it’s doubtful he’ll ever be the focal point of an offense at the professional level, it’s not unreasonable to expect more from him than 2 points on 2 shots. Melo only collected 1 rebound, but at least came away with 4 blocks in 20 minutes.
The two most recent assignments, Orlando Johnson and Miles Plumlee of the Pacers, couldn’t quite get in sync in their first outing for Fort Wayne. Johnson and Plumlee collectively shot 28% from the field and had 3 turnovers apiece. Despite sloppy play on the offensive end, their night wasn’t a total bust; Plumlee managed to grab 12 boards in just 26 minutes, while Johnson was very active on defense, recording 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Oklahoma City shooting guard DeAndre Liggins had the most successful night of any assignment, recording the first triple-double of the D-League season. Liggins isn’t known as a prolific passer, but found himself playing the point for stretches during the 66ers game against Texas. Despite the impressive statistical display, Liggins still finished at an even 0 in plus/minus. His Thunder running mate Daniel Orton had his night weighted down by 6 turnovers in 30 minutes before fouling out. Since Orton’s physical tools are what allow him to hang around the Association, he simply has to limit the mental mistakes which hamper his game. Doing so is the only way for him to stick full-time on an NBA roster.
James Anderson picked up a DNP-CD for San Antonio as the Spurs handled the Indiana Pacers, 107-94.