Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Jan 02, 2007, 05:41 pm
Azubuike Signs With Warriors

The D-League’s leading scorer Kelenna Azubuike has been signed by the Golden State Warriors, making him the first player called up to the NBA on the season. With injuries to Jason Richardson, the Warriors decided to turn to the D-League to find a replacement for the time being. Azubuike was given a non-guaranteed contract, and will have until January 10th to prove himself with the Warriors (all NBA contracts become guaranteed on the 10th). At that point, he still has the option of being signed back for two 10 day contracts if the Warriors decide they don’t want to lock him up, but they want more time to evaluate him. Azubuike will be in uniform Tuesday night as the Warriors play the Hornets. During his time in the D-League this season, Azubuike averaged 26.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 51% from the field and 48% from the three point line. He was named to the all D-League Honorable Mention team last season.

Patrick O’Bryant to Bakersfield

O’Bryant had the option of practicing more or going to the D-League earlier this season, and he chose the increased practice time. It appears that this hasn’t worked out, and O’Bryant was sent to the Bakersfield Jam late last week. He joins a team that is in last place of the Western Division of the D-League at 5-8. Bakersfield’s front line is pretty thin except for Kevinn Pinkney, so O’Bryant should help them out a lot up front. In the D-League, he must learn to put his talent to use on the basketball floor, and play with more intensity. O’Bryant has the potential to be a very good defensive player with a good offensive game, but he will need a lot of development before he reaches this point. He will be the second NBA lottery pick in D-League history to be assigned by an NBA team (Martell Webster was the first last season).

Jay Williams cut, Troy Bell signed

Jay Williams’ return to the D-League didn’t last long. He was cut late last week and the team decided to bring in Troy Bell to fill his spot. Williams had struggled with injuries and only played a handful of games with the Austin Toros. He will now rehab his groin injury before he decides if he’s going to proceed with his comeback attempt. Troy Bell was just released by Albuquerque a week ago, and Austin decided to give him another chance.

James White Re-Assigned to Austin

After being called back to the Spurs due to injury concerns, James White has been sent back to the Austin Toros. He has played one game in the D-League since his return, and didn’t appear in any games in his time back with San Antonio. White is a rookie out of Cincinnati who has a lot of potential as a rotation guy in the NBA, but will need time in the D-League to polish his game for the NBA.

Sene to be Sent to Idaho?

People with media outlets in Seattle have mentioned rumors about rookie center Mouhamed Saer Sene will spend time in the D-League at some point this month. Sene is a young rookie from The Senegal, and emerged as a draft prospect with a strong performance at the Nike Hoop Summit in 2006 where he tied Kevin Garnett’s record with 9 blocks. He has appeared in 13 games with the Sonics this season, and averaged 1 point and 1 rebound in just under 5 minutes per game. Sene possesses a massive arm span, and has great potential as a shotblocker on the defensive end. If he is sent to the D-League by January 10th, he will match up against rookie Patrick O’Bryant of the Golden State Warriors.

Ha Seung-Jin Acquired by Anaheim, Sean Banks Waived

Former Portland Trail Blazers center Ha Seung-Jin from South Korea has been acquired by the Anaheim Arsenal. Ha played in the D-League last year on assignment with the Blazers, and was cut by the Milwaukee Bucks before the start of the 2006-2007 season. To make room for the center, Sean Banks was waived by the Arsenal. Banks has been cut twice by D-League teams this year.

Maurice Ager Recalled by Mavs

Dallas Mavericks first round pick Maurice Ager has been recalled from the Fort Worth Flyers of the D-League. Ager appeared in 5 games for the Flyers, and averaged 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. It is unclear at this point whether Ager is being called up for good or if he’ll return to the D-League at some point during the remainder of the season. He has not appeared in a game for the Mavericks since being recalled.

NBA Player Updates

James White, San Antonio Spurs/Austin Toros

White has played in one game since being reassigned to Austin. He was unable to keep his team from getting blown out by Idaho, but he played well in his 31 minutes. He was able to get to the line 9 times, and the ball well inside the three point line. White was also able to grab 6 steals in the game, but his defensive fundamentals still need a little work. His three point shot wasn’t falling against Idaho, but his form looks decent. White finished the game with 23 points on 8/14 from the field, 6/9 from the free throw line, 6 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers.

Julius Hodge, Denver Nuggets/Colorado 14ers

Hodge has continued his up and down play. He looks good distributing the ball a lot of the time, but has not really displayed anything special in terms of scoring ability that will translate to the NBA level. His outside shooting stroke still needs a ton of work, and it’s not looking too much better from the free throw line. Hodge does have some nice tools to work with in terms of getting teammates involved, and intensity on the court. He will need to make progress in other areas, however, if he wishes to stick in the NBA.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Dallas Mavericks/Fort Worth Flyers

In two games last week, Mensah-Bonsu did a much better job of putting his athleticism to use. He is now scoring more efficiently from the field, and doing the majority of his damage in the paint. He is very effective at running the court and finishing with an empathic dunk in transition. Mensah-Bonsu has also done a little better at using his athletic ability to block shots lately, though there is more room for improvement considering very few of the big men he faces can match him athletically. The two biggest areas of concern for Mensah-Bonsu at this point are his free throw shooting and passing abilities. He still doesn’t have a single assist on the season, and he’s only shooting 40% from the free throw line.

Team Updates

Fort Worth Flyers, 9-3

The Flyers played two games last week, winning one and losing one. Their loss was against Idaho, and it was their first home loss of the season, but they bounced back strong with a double digit win over Albuquerque. Kelenna Azubuike had his first bad game of the season against Idaho, but had 28 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds against Albuquerque. The loss of Azubuike to the NBA will hurt the Flyers badly. Jeremy Richardson has been playing very well for the Flyers this season, and he will now have to shoulder the load of being a go-to scorer. This is also an opportunity for Kevin Burleson to step up and prove that he was worth a first round draft pick in the D-League.

This week, the Flyers host the Arkansas Rimrockers both Friday and Saturday nights.

Dakota Wizards, 9-3

The Wizards played a difficult schedule last week, and went 3-0, with 2 victories over Colorado and 1 over Idaho. Both Renaldo Major and James Maye have been playing very well for the Wizards recently. Maye is a forward out of UNC-Greensboro and is now averaging nearly 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game this season. Major doesn’t have much of a perimeter shot, but his averaging 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Justin Williams has continued to rebound the ball and block shots with ease. He is leading the D-League in both categories.

This week Dakota plays a pair of road games in California, starting Friday with a game in Los Angeles. They finish the week Sunday with a game in Anaheim.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 9-6

Los Angeles went 1-1 last week, losing a game in Bakersfield and winning in Austin. Aloysius Anagonye played very well for the D-Fenders in their victory, but was 0-10 from the field against Bakersfield. Forward Andre Patterson was about the only bright spot for L.A. in their loss. The D-Fenders will be hurt by the loss of their star player Devin Green, who was one of the top players in the D-League throughout the season. With Green now overseas, Brian Chase and Chet Mason will need to step their games up.

This week, L.A. will host Dakota on Friday and Idaho on Sunday.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 9-7

Last week the Skyforce won their first game Monday before dropping two games. Their victory was against Colorado, but they lost to Austin and Albuquerque. Vince Grier has been playing great for Sioux Falls since they acquired him, and has averaged 18.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game this season while shooting 51% from the field. Andre Brown has continued to be one of the steadiest players in the D-league, but sometimes doesn’t get the amount of touches he should. Point guard Frank Williams has been struggling, and needs to do a better job of getting Brown the ball, especially when he is not scoring well himself.

This week, the Skyforce play at Tulsa on Friday, and host Tulsa on Saturday.

Colorado 14ers, 7-5

Last week, the 14ers struggled, going 1-3 on the week. Elton Brown has been playing better for Colorado lately, but is still somewhat inconsistent. Von Wafer has cooled down some since starting the season off hot, but he’s still effective at scoring the ball. For the season, Wafer is averaging 20 points per game on 47% from the field. Pooh Jeter had the best game of his D-League career on Friday against Dakota. Jeter had 28 points on 10/16 from the field, as well as 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 6 steals. Louis Amundson hasn’t been putting up the best numbers on a consistent basis, but his energy, hustle and shotblocking are always needed.

This week, the 14ers host Tulsa on Wednesday and Bakersfield on Saturday and Sunday.

Idaho Stampede, 7-7

Last week, Idaho dropped a game Wednesday before defeating Fort Worth and Austin in consecutive road games Friday and Saturday nights. Jeff Graves had his best week of the D-League season, and put up 28 points and 17 rebounds against Fort Worth. Eddie Robinson had his best game of the season Wednesday with 27 points, but was quiet for the rest of the week. Former lottery pick Luke Jackson has started to find his groove recently, and is now averaging 12.6 points per game while shooting over 60% from behind the three point line. Peter Ramos has started scoring the ball well from the field, but his rebounding numbers must improve for him to get more NBA interest.

This week, Idaho plays a pair of California road games starting with Thursday in Anaheim. They finish up the week Sunday in Los Angeles.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 7-7

Last week Albuquerque lost to Fort Worth and Bakersfield, but picked up a victory against Sioux Falls. Dijon Thompson has been one of the top players in the D-League and is averaging 20.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. At this point, his is one of the most closely tracked players by NBA teams. Joe Shipp has also played very well for Albuquerque lately, and scored over 20 points in 2 of his three games last week. Newly acquired guard Chris Rodgers has scored the ball well since joining the team. He’s scored most of his points from the free throw line, but will need to show better point guard skills to maximize his potential.

This week, Albuquerque hosts Austin on Friday before traveling to Anaheim for a Saturday game.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 6-8

Arkansas struggled against Tulsa last week, dropping back to back home games Friday and Saturday nights. Brian Jackson had a good outing in Saturday’s 4 point loss, scoring 34 points on 16/24 from the field, and adding 9 rebounds. Clay Tucker added 14 points and 12 assists on Saturday as the lone bright spot in a struggling back-court. 7 footer Marcus Campbell scored a season high 19 points Friday night, but only had 4 rebounds, and he turned the ball over 6 times. The Rimrockers would be a lot better off if they could add a good scoring guard from the available player pool.

This week, Arkansas travels to Fort Worth for Friday and Saturday games.

Anaheim Arsenal, 6-9

Anaheim lost to Colorado last Wednesday, but bounced back for a Saturday victory at home against Bakersfield. Andre Owens has started to play better recently, and is now averaging 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He had his best game of the season Saturday with 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Jawad Williams played well Wednesday, but struggled against Bakersfield, scoring 16 points on only 5/15 from the field. Corsley Edwards has been rebounding the ball well lately, and his scoring has been solid.

Anaheim starts the week by hosting Idaho on Thursday. They finish up with back to back home games against Albuquerque and Dakota on Saturday and Sunday.

Bakersfield Jam, 5-8

Last week Bakersfield went 2-1, defeating Albuquerque and Los Angeles before losing to Anaheim. Brandon Bowman has stepped up his game lately. Against Albuquerque, Bowman had 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, and he had 24 points and 9 rebounds against Los Angeles. Kevinn Pinkney has been very consistent for Anaheim up front, and has averaged 18.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on the season. Andre McCollum has also played well recently, and has been scoring very efficiently from the field.

Bakersfield plays their first game this week on Thursday in Austin. Friday and Saturday nights they play a pair of games in Colorado.

Austin Toros, 1-13

The Toros went 1-2 last week, but won their first game of the season on Thursday against Sioux Falls. BJ Elder has continued to be a bright spot for the struggling Toros, and is now averaging 21.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game this year. Jamar Smith has rebounded the ball well this year, but is currently struggling from the field. He has kept his scoring up thanks to a large number of free throw attempts. The Toros will look for newly acquired guard Troy Bell to shoulder some of the scoring load, and strong play by Bell would help the team greatly.

Austin plays their first game of the week in Bakersfield on Thursday. They finish their week in Albuquerque Friday night.

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