The skilled group of writers over at Grantland.com are in the process of celebrating “D-League Week”, with their typical thoughtful and in-depth coverage. To little surprise, Rio Grande Valley and it’s “system” were recognized, but is RGV’s “Amazing Pace” really that amazing for the future of it’s players?
Let it be known, I enjoy watching RGV’s “system” as much as anyone, in fact, from a fan perspective how could you dislike it? With the incredible energy produced from their three-point crazy, 100-plus point games every night, I’d be willing to bet there’s very few fans if any at all, that don’t enjoy watching the Vipers play live, or on YouTube.
However, the “system” to which Rio Grande Valley and mastermind Daryl Morey are currently running is not as well-received as many would think. In terms of NBA personnel outside of Houston, some have thought that RGV’s “system” is perhaps setting their players back according to a source.
Players that excel in RGV’s “system” at this point, are not exactly showcasing to other NBA teams that they can thrive outside of Nevada Smith’s long-ball offense. Sure, Troy Daniels recently inked a deal with Houston, and has demonstrated his previously noted three-point range, but has he proven anything outside of that? Not really.
It could be argued that Daniels is too small to play shooting guard in the NBA, doesn’t recognize a good shot from a bad one, has yet to show that he can fully run an offense as a point guard, and has trouble creating his own shot. Still, Daniels earned an NBA Call-Up with Houston on February 21. Since then, Daniels has returned back with the Vipers on assignment.
Does this mean Troy Daniels is bad player? No, but outside of playing for RGV, or Houston for that matter, Daniels hasn’t done much to prove to other NBA personnel that he’s an NBA player.
Have any other players in Rio Grande Valley proven themselves to other NBA personnel this season? Yes, Chris Johnson earned an NBA Call-Up earlier this season with the Boston Celtics. But Johnson was not long for the NBA D-League no matter where he was playing earlier this season, and was considered to be the perfect NBA Call-Up by some NBADL team sources. It was clear that Johnson’s game was not hurt by playing with RGV.
James Johnson also earned an NBA Call-Up after playing for Rio Grande Valley earlier this season. Johnson was the second overall draft pick in the 2013 NBA D-League draft, and once again was considered not long for the NBADL. Johnson had NBA playing experience, and garnered interest from multiple NBA teams prior to his stint with RGV. Ten games into the season, Johnson was called up by Memphis on December 16.
It will be interesting to follow the progress of the remaining players in Rio Grande Valley as we enter March (generally speaking, the month with the most NBA Call-Ups). Will NBA scouts and decision makers be able to look outside the “system”, and envision a player in a different role, or offense? While the “Amazing Pace” is certainly a blast to watch, and is a winning formula, does it place players in a pigeonhole? We will have to wait and see, and let any potential NBA Call-Ups be the answer.