Tonight is the NBA D-League Draft, and as the league becomes more prominent, the talent looking to find their way into it the league has grown immensely. With a few hours until Draft time, here is a look at some interesting names that caught my eye and who have I have seen play recently.
Derick Beltran, Southern – Beltran was the leading scorer in the SWAC last season, and he didn’t just do it against SWAC competition. Beltran started the season off by scoring 26 against Iowa State, and finished it by scoring 21 against Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament. Beltran was much better when he looked to get into the defense, though he shot more than half his shots from behind the arc, hitting only 34% of them. Still, if you take put him in a position where he doesn’t have to be the primary scorer, he should be able to put up points at a fairly consistent clip.
Mike Black, Albany – Black was one of the America East’s top scorers last season and was a key component of an Albany team that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season. While he shot only 40% from the floor last season, he did shoot 38% from 3-point range, and his biggest strength may be as a strong perimeter defender.
Aquille Carr – Known more his YouTube mixtapes and off-the-court problems, Carr is still a player capable of putting on quite a show. With little meaningful experience, taking him does come with some risks, though not as great at this level. Still a very long-term project.
Abdul Gaddy, Washington – A former McDonald’s All-American, Gaddy overcame injury to become a solid point guard for the Huskies. Gaddy also showed some flashes playing for the Charlotte Bobcats this past summer in Las Vegas. He could be one of the better point guard prospects in the draft.
Frank Gaines, IPFW – One of the top NCAA scorers in the country the past two seasons, Gaines was able to get points in a variety of ways, and was not afraid of taking some contact as he looked to score. He is another player who would likely be more efficient if he wasn’t leaned upon by his team so heavily.
Kiwi Gardner, Midland Junior College –Gardner, a former Providence commit who didn’t become eligible, played a grand total of 9 games at the JUCO level before deciding to turn pro. Lightning quick with some definite flash to his game, Gardner is still an interesting long-term prospect. Getting into a structured environment where he can learn the finer points to the game may be available to convert his raw talent into something special.
Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart – Gibson is another big scorer from a small conference, but Gibson was much more efficient than other big scorers, including shooting over 41% from 3-point range and 87% from the free-throw line. His ability to break down defenses could make him an interesting point-guard prospect though he hasn’t shown that he can be a pass-first kind of guard.
Terrence Joyner, Mississippi Valley State – 2 years ago, Joyner was a key component to the Delta Devils squad which made it to the NCAA Tournament. Joyner is a versatile scorer who can also handle the point if needed, and he was an underrated college defender. Joyner could be some instant energy off the bench next season.
Bruce Massey, Middle Tennessee State – Massey was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year off a Blue Raiders team which won 28 games and made it to the NCAA Tournament. He headed the defense at the point of attack and used quick hands and feet to make it difficult for opposing players to make easy decisions. On offense, Massey was steady handling the ball and was good at minimizing mistakes.
DJ Rivera, Binghamton - Rivera, who also played at St. Joseph's, is a shooting guard with point guard skills and the ability to score anywhere on the court. He can defend either guard spot and is a good rebounder out of the position. Still some untapped talent here if he gets into a good system.
Scott Suggs, Washington – Suggs was a nice compliment to Gaddy and CJ Wilcox in the Huskies’ backcourt, providing some consistent perimeter shooting with the ability to use his size to get to the basket. Capable of guarding multiple positions, Suggs won’t make a name as a defender, but he will always give a strong effort.
Chase Tapley, San Diego State – The heart of the Aztecs team which has emerged on the national scene over the past few years, Tapley was a nice combination of offense, defense and leadership. A strong scorer in his own right, Tapley deferred to better options but wasn’t afraid to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Will make any team he is on better.
CJ Aiken, St. Joseph’s – Long and lanky, Aiken could hold his own as a shot-blocker on defense, but had little interest in playing around the basket on offense. Aiken isn’t a bad shooter, but he would have gotten better shots if he looked to get the ball around the basket more instead of 15-18 feet out. Still, he could bring a defensive presence immediately to the D-League level.
Reginald Buckner, Mississippi- Buckner teamed with Murphy Holloway to form an impressive inside presence to the Rebels, though they were often overshadowed by the antic s of Marshall Henderson. Buckner is an efficient scorer around the basket and tough on both the offensive and defensive boards. A good shot-blocker, though his judgment often led to him going after shots he shouldn’t have and picking up unneeded fouls.
Ryan Evans, Wisconsin – Evans’ strength is in his ability to defend multiple positions and rebound better than many who are his size (6’6). Also known for trying to cure his free-throw shooting problems by taking them as jumpers a few feet behind the free throw line. Evans isn’t going to be a big-time player, but he will go out and do whatever the team needs from him.
Kyle Hunt, University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma – Hunt has a strong body with some freakish athleticism for his size. Hunt is capable of scoring inside and out, and he is one of the best rebounders in the Draft. Hunt could be a top defender in the right situation.
Kevin Parrom, Arizona – Parrom was a solid role-player for a Wildcats team that was one of the more talented teams in the country. Parrom’s ability to shoot from behind the arc opened up space for his teammates to drive, and he was smart, though unspectacular defender. Parrom is tough and will use that to his advantage on the court.
Reggie Johnson, Miami – Plagued with injuries the past 2 seasons, Johnson was still one of the more skilled big-men in the country, though his conditioning often left a lot to be desired. In the low post, Johnson showed the footwork of a player 30-40 pounds lighter and he has a nice touch around the basket. In his sophomore year, which he played the whole season, he shot almost 60% from the field and averaged almost 10 rebounds per game. If he can get his body to go along with it, Johnson could be a force at the D-League level.
Paul Sturgess – He’s 7’8. That’s just fun to see.
This is just a sample of who will be available to be drafted tonight, but this is probably the most talented pool of players since the D-League came into existence.
Follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog
I('d be down to watch the NBA Dleague if it did not allow washed up has beens to play in it. This is supposed to be a league of developing young talent and finding diamonds in the rough in which the NBA would not otherwise find. Instead it has become a docking spot for players who are WAY past their primes looking for another chance. Case in point--Mike James Antoine Walker. Both have made successful careers in the league, but because they could not take of their business, they have to bum around yet again for another NBA shot.
Such players like that do not belong in the D League because they have already had their chance. Personally I think there should be an age limit and a three strikes rule--if you have been called up and dropped back to the DLeague more than three time, then considered ineligble to play in the DLeague. Also the age limit should be set at 25, because if you have not reached the NBA by 25, then it's more than likely that probably NEVER ever make it. Anyways that's my two cents on this topic.