Top Returning Players To Watch This Season
As D-League teams begin to assemble for training camp this week, here are the returning players to watch out for as the season gets underway. Some return with NBA stints under their belt, while others are hungry to get their first taste of the Association.
Jarell Eddie, G – Austin Spurs
Games Played: 11
Avg: 13.2 points, 3.5 rebs, 3PT: 52.5%
With the Virginia Tech alum returning to Austin, the team will have two tickets to paradise, because Jarell Eddie is money.
An elite 3-point shooting threat, Eddie was the top dog on the court two seasons ago with the Austin Spurs, claiming the D-League All-Star 3-point Shootout crown. A short stint last season in the D-League led to an early season call-up by the Washington Wizards where he called home for the remainder of the season.
Eddie averaged below 30 minutes per game last season and still managed to put up impressive numbers. Consider this, from his rookie D-League season to his second year, his 3-point shooting percentage improved by more than seven percent. With an NBA season under his belt, Eddie will be a valued returning player
Brianté Weber, G – Sioux Falls Skyforce
Games Played: 28
Avg: 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists
The VCU alum took the D-League by storm as he emerged as a defensive stalwart for the champion Sioux Falls Skyforce last season.
Recovering from a gruesome knee injury in college in which he tore his ACL, MCL, and his meniscus, Weber finally made his professional debut in early January. Though he only registered four minutes of playing time on the stat sheet, it was the signal to the rest of the league that Bri-fense had arrived.
Averaging 28.8 minutes per contest, Weber shot just below 50% from the field during his Skyforce stint and posted a net rating of 10.3 which was Top-10 in the D-League among players who appeared in at least 25 contests last season.
Weber earned a pair of call-ups last season, one with the Memphis Grizzlies, and the other to the team’s parent club, the Miami Heat, where he was a member of the team’s playoff roster.
Cut in training camp this year after signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Heat, Weber looks to return to Sioux Falls as one of the locker room leaders. He will be integral to the team now that he will be suiting up from the start of the season as opposed to halfway through.
South Dakota place where its nothn but time to get better #NewBeginning
— Briante Weber (@VCU_Bandit2) October 31, 2016
Quinn Cook, G – Canton Charge
Games Played: 43
Avg: 19.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists
The reigning NBA D-League Rookie of the Year returns to Canton to continue improving his game as he works towards his own NBA call-up. The Duke alum played slightly more than 33 minutes per contest while shooting just below 40 percent from 3-point range.
What makes Cook so versatile is his ability to attack the basket as well as his outside shooting. Over 40 percent of his points last season came from inside the paint and 71 percent of his two-point field goals made went unassisted last year, showing just how Cook is able to create his own shot.
Also, Canton went 11-3 last season when Cook scored at least 23 points. When he gets going, so does the rest of the team.
Cook will be a hand for newly named head coach Nate Reinking to lean on as he takes on his new role with the team. But being familiar with Cook (having served as an assistant under former head coach Jordi Fernandez last season) will only benefit their relationship into the new season.
Askia Booker – Northern Arizona Suns
Games Played: 47
Avg: 12.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Assuming a bit of an identity crisis last season with the team formerly known as the Bakersfield Jam, Booker is ready to come out of his shell and take on a greater role with the Northern Arizona Suns.
With the Suns trading Xavier Munford’s rights to the Greensboro Swarm, that opportunity just might come this season. Booker only played roughly 20 minutes per game last season under former head coach Chris Jent and was limited in offensive opportunities.
During the home stretch of the season, however, Booker saw his role increase and his numbers improved immensely. The last 10 games of the season, Booker averaged just under 20 points per game while averaging 29.7 minutes during that same span.
Booker preferred playing at home last season, shooting over 50 percent from the field in Bakersfield compared to 42 percent on the road. Though the team has a number of returning players on board, including Xavier Silas, it’s Booker who is set up for the biggest leap in his game, provided he can keep the momentum going from last season into this year.
David Laury III, F – Delaware 87ers
Games Played: 44
Avg: 10.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists
The 6-foot-9 stretch forward out of Iona was impressive last season in limited action for the 87ers, and he’s looking to improve even more during his sophomore D-League season.
Boasting a 54% true shooting percentage, Laury succeeded near the basket, shooting 58.1% from the floor when less than five feet from the hoop.
He also had a knack for shooting the three-pointer, something he needs to continue to improve upon in his second season to showcase his ability.
The big man shot just above 30% from three-point range last season, his role is also expected to increase this season after playing behind the likes of Christian Wood, Earl Clark, and Sam Thompson. The 87ers suited up a total of 27 players last season, an unusually high number even considering the turnover of the D-League.
Here’s our scouting report on his professional debut last season. If Laury has improved his lateral quickness and his ability to close out on the perimeter then he, and the 87ers, will be that much better for it.