Inside the D-League (edit 2/28)

Inside the D-League (edit 2/28)
Feb 27, 2007, 04:35 pm
2/28 Edit: Mike Hall Called up by Washington

Mike Hall has been called up the Washington Wizards on a 10-day contract, Director of Player Personnel Milt Newton confirmed to DraftExpress today. Since the Wizards had 15 players under contract already, James Lang was cut in order to make room for the move. Newton told DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony that the move was made to “fill some spots” and round out Washington’s roster better, as they had “too many players at the 4 and 5 positions” and “almost nothing at small forward behind Caron Butler”.

The Wizards are very familiar with Hall since he played right down the road from them at George Washington University for four years. He was invited to training camp this October, and was the last player to be cut. Newton says that the Wizards “know what Mike can do,” and called him a “smart” and “versatile player.”

The 6-8 combo forward Hall is known as an excellent role player type with a strong personality who does not need plays called for him and can hit down shots from the behind the arc at a solid rate. Newton told DX that Hall will be in uniform tonight already when the Wizards take on the Miami Heat. When asked what this means for Antawn Jamison's potential return to Washington's lineup after not playing at all in the month of January, Newton said it doesn't mean anything, and that players will play when they are healthy and ready.

On the season, Hall averaged 15.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2 assists shooting nearly 50% from the field and 36% from behind the arc, playing on a talented roster with the Tulsa 66ers.

Will Conroy Signed by the Clippers

Will Conroy of the Tulsa 66ers has received his second call-up of the season from the Los Angeles Clippers. Conroy was signed to a 10 day contract by the Memphis Grizzlies on January 30th, and is the third D-League player to receive a 10 day contract from the Clippers this season. To make room for the signing, shooting guard Von Wafer will not remain with Los Angeles.

The Clippers have suddenly become thin at the point guard position due to the gruesome knee injury suffered by Shaun Livingston last night. Sam Cassell isn’t totally healthy either (though he plays limited minutes), and the only other ball-handler on their roster is Daniel Ewing.

Conroy will have a good opportunity to earn minutes considering the current injury situation of the Clippers. It can be hard for a point guard to pick up on a system in a matter of 10 days, but Conroy is the best option available at this point in time. He will be in uniform this week when Los Angeles returns to Seattle, Conroy’s hometown. In 31 games with the Tulsa 66ers this season, Conroy has averaged 15.2 points and 10.8 assists per game.

Blalock and Johnson to Sioux Falls

The Detroit Pistons have assigned second year power forward Amir Johnson and rookie point guard Will Blalock to the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Johnson spent time in the D-League last season, and was with the Skyforce earlier this season. He averaged 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game during his 6 game stint with Sioux Falls earlier this year. Blalock, a rookie from Iowa State, has appeared in 13 games for the Pistons this season with averages of 1.8 points and 1.3 assists per game.

Ilic Assigned to 14ers

New Jersey Nets’ rookie center Mile Ilic has been assigned to play with the Colorado 14ers. Ilic will be the 19th NBA player to receive time in the D-League this season. He will share time in the frontcourt with Elton Brown and Rick Rickert, two players who were D-League all-stars this season. Ilic, a 22 year old rookie, has only appeared in 5 games with the Nets this season. This marks the first time the Nets have used their D-League affiliate in 2 years.

Des Moines Gains Expansion Franchise

The D-League office will announce the addition of a team to Des Moines, Iowa at some point today. This is the 3rd expansion team awarded this year, which will bring the D-League to its goal of 15 teams going into next season. The ownership group will be managed by local attorney Jerry Crawford.

Julius Hodge Joins Stampede

Former Denver Nuggets’ first round pick Julius Hodge has been acquired by the Idaho Stampede from the available player pool. With Denver, Hodge spent time with 2 D-League teams over the past two seasons. He was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks in a mid-season trade this year, and was waived after a couple weeks. Hodge will need to show improvement on his jump-shot before he makes it back to the NBA. He gives the Stampede a versatile guard who can distribute the ball.

D-Fenders Acquire Horton, Lewis

The Los Angeles D-Fenders have acquired guard Daniel Horton and big man Nick Lewis from the available player pool. Horton is a rookie from Michigan, where he averaged 17 points and 5 assists per game last season. He started the season in Turkey, but decided to leave due to his team's inconsistent payment schedules. Horton has the talent to be a good D-League player, but he is stuck fighting for backcourt minutes with John Gilchrist, Chet Mason, and Brian Chase. Lewis is 23 years old, and played his college ball at San Diego. He will be an important addition to the D-Fenders, who have struggled with front court depth this season. He started the year off in Belgium, but struggled to find his niche there.

Mensah-Bonsu Recalled to Mavericks

Rookie power forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu has been recalled from the Fort Worth Flyers. Since Mensah-Bonsu has already been assigned to the Flyers twice this season, he is only eligible to go back for one more assignment. In the D-League, Mensah-Bonsu was dominant at times, and was a handful for the other big men who couldn’t match his athleticism. He returns to the Mavs who currently have a thin roster due to injury troubles.

Ramos Injured, Out for Season

Center Peter Ramos of the Idaho Stampede fractured a bone in his knee last week, and will miss the remainder of the season. Ramos averaged 13.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 33 games for the Stampede this season. Since the Stampede also lost rookie center Saer Sene, who was re-called by the Sonics, the Stampede have added Brazilian power forward Morro from the available player pool. Randy Livingston has been held out of games recently due to a hamstring injury, but the Stampede will be getting back Eddie Robinson as well.

Kevinn Pinkney named D-League Performer of the Week

Power Forward Kevinn Pinkney of the Bakersfield Jam has been named the D-League Performer of the week. Pinkney averaged 24.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last week while leading Bakersfield to a 3-0 record. He has consistently been one of the better power forwards in the D-League this season, and went a long way in helping ease the loss of Patrick O’Bryant, who was recalled by the Golden State Warriors.

NBA Player Update

Damir Markota, Tulsa 66ers/Milwaukee Bucks
7.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apg

Markota had his best game since being assigned to the D-League when he scored 13 points on 6/8 from the field, and added 6 rebounds and 4 assists in a game last week. It should be clear at this point that Markota is a long term project, and will take some time to develop. As a 21 year old, he doesn’t dominate like you see from a lot of NBA players sent to the D-League. He will have to work on consistency with his scoring first, but he already has a nice shooting stroke. It took Ersan Ilyasova some time to emerge last year, and it will be interesting to see if Markota follows the same path.

Team Updates

Idaho Stampede, 23-11

Idaho won their only game last week in triple-overtime against Tulsa. Ricky Sanchez stepped up in the absence of Peter Ramos, and scored 29 points while making 4/10 from the three point line. Luke Jackson added 23 points, and Ronell Taylor 22. It will be easier for the Stampede to keep their pace atop the D-League once point guard Randy Livingston returns from his injury. Eddie Robinson will help as well, and it will be interesting to see how Brazilian big man Morrow plays during his time in the D-League. The addition of Julius Hodge should help ease the minutes of Livingston.

This week Idaho hosts Bakersfield Thursday and Anaheim on Saturday.

Dakota Wizards, 19-12

Last week Dakota defeated Fort Worth in a Tuesday morning game. Quemont Greer stepped up and led the way with 27 points, and Chris McCray added 19 points off the bench. Rod Benson also contributed with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Dakota now has one of the deepest backcourts in the D-League, though they lack depth up front. James Maye started the season well, but has struggled with his role as of late. Since Dakota has players like Chris McCray and Curtis Stinson on the bench, expect them to play a lot of small-ball between now and the end of the season.

This week Dakota plays in Sioux Falls on Thursday and Tulsa on Saturday, before returning home for a Sunday game against Bakersfield.

Fort Worth Flyers, 19-12

The Flyers lost to Dakota last week before winning a Sunday game in Sioux Falls. Jeremy Richardson struggled in his first game back from the NBA as many players do, but he bounced back strong against Sioux Falls with 25 points. Kevin Burleson has really started to distribute the ball well lately, but he really struggled from the field against Dakota. Ndudi Ebi played his first game of the season on Sunday, and finished up with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks before fouling out in 33 minutes. Ebi’s play will be important for the Flyers with the loss of Pops Mensah-Bonsu.

This week Fort Worth plays in Sioux Falls on Tuesday, before returning home for a Friday game against Colorado. They play another home game on Sunday against Tulsa.

Colorado 14ers, 21-14

Jim Hlavac

Guard Von Wafer was called up by the Los Angeles Clippers and Colorado dropped a pair of home games to Albuquerque this week. Since February 5th when P.J.Tucker was recalled by the Toronto Raptors and Louis Amundson was called up by the Utah Jazz, the 14ers have lost 6 of their 7 games. Elton Brown picked up the load despite being double teamed when he touched the ball. Brown averaged 23 points (58% fg) and 7
rebounds while also shooting an impressive 10 of 12 from the foul line. Pooh Jeter did his part by averaging 24.5 points and 6 assists per game. Mike Harris (13.5 ppg, 11 rpg) and Rick Rickert (13 ppg, 7rpg) also had nice weeks for Colorado. Things should turn around this week as Amundson is expected to be back following two 10-day contracts and the New Jersey Nets have sent down center Mile Ilic. Von Wafer could also return as he will not be retained by the Clippers following a 10-day contract.

Colorado swings down to Texas for a game at Austin Thursday night and a game at Fort Worth Friday night. They return home Sunday to play Sioux Falls.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 18-16

The D-Fenders won a pair of games against Arkansas last week, but lost to Bakersfield. Sean Banks has been playing really well lately, and averaged 24 points per game in his 3 games. Newly acquired big man Nick Lewis has added some nice depth up front, and Brian Chase had two big games as well. Andre Emmett provides nice balance at the small forward position, but at this point the D-Fenders have too many guards who want to run the point. They will have to work on getting both Daniel Horton and John Gilchrist minutes in the backcourt.

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

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 17-15

Sioux Falls lost their only game last week to the Fort Worth Flyers in overtime. Frank Williams has played really well lately, and was 1 point and 1 assist from a triple double in the game against Fort Worth while scoring 29 points. Robert Hite has been a good scoring threat for the Skyforce, and he had 20 points on 9/13 shooting against the Flyers. The Skyforce still miss Jared Reiner up front, and could look at add another big man some time soon. Stephen Graham’s play will be important to the Skyforce for the rest of the season, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep providing a good product while dealing with so many player transactions.

Sioux Falls hosts Fort Worth on Tuesday and Dakota on Thursday. They continue their homestand on Saturday against Bakersfield before traveling to Colorado on Sunday.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 16-18

The Thunderbirds currently have a 5 game winning streak, and beat Colorado twice last week. Dijon Thompson has continued to lead them on the court, and currently averages 19.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. Cedric Bozeman has continued his dominant play, and had 15 points and 14 assists in his last game. Joe Shipp has also played well lately, and Andreas Glynaidakas has been one of the better front court scorers in the entire league. The Thunderbirds have experience as a group, and know what it takes to win the D-League championship, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make a push from now to the end of the season.

This week Albuquerque hosts Arkansas on Friday and Los Angeles on Saturday.

Austin Toros, 15-17

The Toros will have to overcome the tragic loss of head coach Dennis Johnson. The players got along well with Coach Johnson, and it will be hard for them to focus on basketball between now and the rest of the season. Due to the tragic loss, the Toros cancelled all their games last week. They will resume play on Thursday when Colorado travels to Austin, and they also host Arkansas on Sunday.

Anaheim Arsenal, 17-20

Jim Hlavac

Anaheim split their two games this week, losing to the league's hottest team, Bakersfield (six game winning streak) and winning at home against lowly Arkansas (10-24). Steven Smith had a big week averaging 26 points (56% fg) and 11 rebounds in the two games. Jawad Williams struggled from the field (13 of 33 -39%) but still averaged 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Majic Dorsey had a solid week at the point averaging 19.5 points and 7 assists per game.

Anaheim plays at Los Angeles on Friday and then goes to Idaho to play the Stampede on Saturday.

Rumor has it that Guillermo Diaz could possibly join the team soon. Anaheim are the affiliates of the Los Angeles Clippers, the team that drafted Diaz. He is back home in Miami these days after playing extremely well in the Czech Republic and FIBA Europe League with Nymburk.

Tulsa 66ers, 14-20

Last week Tulsa lost their only game to Idaho despite a strong performance from Desmon Farmer. Farmer has been on fire lately, and had 33 points on 9/17 from the field against the Stampede. Will Conroy had 17 points along with 11 assists in this game, and the 66ers will struggle at the point with Conroy in the NBA. Denham Brown has continued to play well this season, and it will be important for him to pick up the scoring load with Conroy gone. It will also help if one of Tulsa’s centers starts playing well on a consistent basis.

This week Tulsa hosts Dakota on Saturday before taking the 4 hour bus ride down to Fort Worth for a Sunday game.

Bakersfield Jam, 13-22

Bakersfield currently owns the longest winning streak in the D-League at 6 games, and won all three of their games last week thanks to the strong play of Kevinn Pinkney. Tamar Slay has stepped up lately, and has really helped shoulder the scoring load. He is averaging 17.2 points per game over his last 5 games. Mateen Cleaves has played well as of late, and could see an increase in minutes over the next few weeks.

Bakersfield opens their week with a Thursday game against Idaho. They then travel to the Dakotas where they play Sioux Falls on Saturday and the Dakota Wizards on Sunday.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 10-25

The Rimrockers have dropped their last 5 games, including 2 games to Los Angeles and 1 game to Bakersfield last week. Roger Powell has been terrific lately, scoring 38 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in an overtime loss to the D-Fenders last week. J.R. Pinnock has played well since joining the Rimrockers, though he lacks consistency at this point. The Rimrockers recent acquisition of Anthony Roberson should help greatly when it comes to scoring, but they will still struggle against teams with strong front courts. Arkansas has played much better since implementing an up-tempo style of play, but they are still one player short of stringing some wins together.

This week Arkansas plays in Albuquerque on Friday and in Austin on Saturday.

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