Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Dec 19, 2006, 02:17 pm
Mavs send Mo Ager to D-League

Rookie Mo Ager of the Dallas Mavericks has been assigned to the Fort Worth Flyers. Ager, a rookie out of Michigan State, has appeared in 16 games for Dallas this season, and averaged 4.1 minutes and 1.4 points per game. Mavs officials mentioned earlier this season that they hoped Ager would be ready to stay with the team, and pick up rotation minutes where needed. With a healthy squad deep at the shooting guard, there just aren’t a whole lot of minutes right now, and he should benefit from some time with the Flyers. Ager is an athletic guard who can shoot the three point shot, and will continue to work on developing his in between game while in Fort Worth.

James White assigned to D-League, struggles in Debut

The San Antonio Spurs assigned James White to the Austin Toros earlier this week. White is the first Spur to play in the D-league. White was acquired by the Spurs as a free agent after Rawle Marshall beat him out in Indiana Pacers training camp. The Pacers had given three second round picks to get White on draft night, and given him a two year guaranteed contract. He made his debut on Sunday against the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and scored 9 points with 3 rebounds and 2 assists on 2/9 from the field in 24 minutes. White is known for his athleticism, but really improved his all-around game over his final 2 years of college. He is a good passer and a decent shooter who rarely takes advantage of his athleticism in the half-court offense. In the D-League he will need to improve his ball handling and scoring abilities off the dribble, as well as becoming more consistent throughout the game.

Sean Banks and TJ Cummings added to D-League rosters

TJ Cummings was released by the Albuquerque Thunderbirds on December 9th, but he was quickly signed this week by the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Cummings is an athletic power forward, and the son of former NBA forward Terry Cummings. TJ’s athleticism will help the D-Fenders on both ends of the floor, but he still needs to improve his shooting stroke.

Sean Banks was also added by the Anaheim Arsenal. Banks played part of the season in the D-League last year in Tulsa while on assignment from the New Orleans Hornets. He has a history of attitude problems, but is very talented as a basketball player. He will have a shot at making the NBA if he can show some progress in his in-between game as well as some added maturity.

McNamara added to Bakersfield

Point guard Gerry McNamara, who was recently cut by Olympiakos, has been added to the Bakersfield Jam. He was released after sitting on the bench overseas, and decided to pursue his NBA dreams rather than looking for more money in Europe. He was known for his clutch play in college, but will need to work on his shot selection and distribution before NBA teams will give him a look.

Awvee Storey added to Wizards

The Dakota Wizards added former Washington Wizard and New Jersey Net guard Awvee Storey to their roster. Storey was cut after training camp by the Nets and made his D-League debut on Thursday night, scoring just 6 points. He bounced back with a better showing Friday night, totalling 13 points and 6 rebounds. Storey is 29 years old and is hoping to make it back into the NBA quickly. He will certainly receive plenty of offers to play overseas, and that may be an option for him as D-League season goes on.

Jay Williams injured

Jay Williams pulled his groin during his first D-League game, and sat out his games on Friday and Monday night. Williams struggled in his debut, turning the ball over 11 times and going 5/16 from the field. He did finish the game with 14 points and 9 assists, but it will clearly take some time before he is adjusted to playing again. For now Williams’ status is unknown, but he will have plenty of time to rest up as Austin doesn’t play another game until Friday.

Andre Brown Emerging

The Sioux Falls Skyforce have won their past three games and their wins are largely the result of the strong play of Andre Brown. Brown is averaging 29.6 points per game over the last three wins, as well as 13.6 rebounds per game. For the season he is averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per game. Brown was the second selection in the D-League draft and is very athletic. He is listed at 6’9” and is somebody to keep an eye on when NBA teams start to call up D-League players.

Jazz discussing D-League possibilities

Kevin O’Connor, VP of Basketball Operations for the Jazz, has recently mentioned the D-League as an option for some of the younger Jazz players. He told the Salt Lake Tribune that since the Jazz play 5 games in the next 7 days, it would be a good chance to get one of his younger players some game time. Utah currently has 6 players eligible to play in the D-League. Last year they sent CJ Miles to the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, where he displayed a little progress in his offensive game.

Martynas Andriuskevicius Update

In his debut against Austin, Andriuskevicius scored 4 points on 2/5 from the field, with 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 16 minutes. He scored 7 points but failed to grab a single rebound in 17 minutes the next night. It will take some time before Coach Dave Joerger fully integrates him into the offense, but Martynas should be very effective once he gets comfortable with his teammates. Last year in the D-League Andriuskevicius relied on his perimeter shooting, so it will be interesting to see if he’s added anything resembling a post game to his already strong face-up game. It will also be important for him to lift weights and add bulk during his time in the D-League.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu Update

Pops sat out both games for the Fort Worth Flyers last week due to an injury he suffered in practice. He is back practicing now and should play Tuesday night against Sioux Falls.

Ryan Hollins Update

Like Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Hollins was also injured in practice and missed both of his games last week. Sources in Fort Worth say that Hollins is now healthy and they expect him to play Tuesday against Sioux Falls.

Julius Hodge Update

Hodge has continued to struggle score, but has distributed the ball very well thus far. His perimeter shooting stroke is still awkward and looks the same as it did in college. Hodge is most effective in transition where he either finishes or finds the open man. Saturday night he had 12 assists, despite going 2/9 from the field. He has some nice tools to work with, but will really need to improve his shooting stroke if he wants to stick at the NBA level.

Team Updates

Fort Worth Flyers, 6-1

The Flyers bounced back from their first loss of the season by beating the Tulsa 66ers in back to back games on Friday and Saturday night. Kelenna Azubuike has continued to play well for the Flyers and scored 28 points in each game against Tulsa. He shot a combined 7/14 from the 3 point line in the two games against the 66ers, and is now averaging 26.3 points per game on 53% from the field and 48% from the 3 point line. Luke Schenscher has started to play well for the Flyers, posting 14 points and 11 rebounds Friday night, and 9 points and 12 rebounds Saturday night. Schenscher is one of the more experienced big men in the D-League, but started the season slow. Jeremy Richardson has also played well over the last two games. He had 22 on Friday night, followed by 18 on Saturday.

This coming week, Fort Worth hosts Sioux Falls Tuesday night, and Anaheim on Friday night. They play a road game in Colorado on Saturday night.

Dakota Wizards, 6-1

The Wizards have started strong and continue to add talent to their roster. Justin Williams has slowed down a little bit, but is still playing well. He had 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks Friday night against Austin, and 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks on Thursday. He also played very effective defense against Jamar Smith, who had been one of the better players in the D-League this season. Jerome Beasley is talented, but one of the more inconsistent players in the NBDL. He scored 22 points Thursday night, but followed it up 7 on Friday. His rebounding numbers have been solid, but he is really struggling from the free throw line.

On Tuesday night, the Wizards host the D-Fenders. Friday night they travel to Colorado before returning home for a game against Sioux Falls on Saturday.

Colorado 14ers, 5-2

The 14ers split their games last week on the road in Albuquerque. Von Wafer had 25 points and made 6 of his 11 three point shots Friday night, but was nowhere to be found on Saturday night, finishing with just 11 points. They need a more consistent effort out of both Pooh Jeter and Elton Brown if they are going to keep winning. Brown scored 24 points and grabbed 8 boards in the win, but was just 3/7 from the field in the loss. Jeter played well in the loss Friday night, but went just 2/6 from the field on Saturday. Better efficiency out of assignee Julius Hodge would also help Colorado greatly.

Colorado hosts a pair of games on Friday and Saturday. They host the two teams ahead of them in the standings; Dakota on Friday, and Fort Worth on Saturday. After these two games, the 14ers should have a much better understanding of where they stand as a team.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 6-3

The Thunderbirds split back to back games at home against Colorado last Friday and Saturday nights. Dijon Thompson has played very well for the Thunderbirds, and netted 24 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in the win on Friday night. Big man Manual Navarez has provided Albuquerque with a steady presence up front next to Marcus Douthit. Navarez is currently tied for 5th in rebounds per game, and collected 14 on Friday night against Colorado. Troy Bell has been very inconsistent thus far, but displays flashes of his scoring ability.

This week, Albuquerque will play back to back road games in Idaho starting Friday.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 6-4

Arkansas suffered a pair of losses on Thursday and Friday against a hot Sioux Falls team. Myron Allen has scored the ball well for Arkansas this year, but sometimes struggles with both distribution and turnovers. Clay Tucker has been the most consistent member of the Rimrockers this year, and is currently averaging 18.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. If Arkansas is going to keep their record above .500, they will need solid production from Brian Jackson and Olu Famutimi, as well as better point guard play from Myron Allen.

Arkansas plays a pair of California teams this week. On Friday night they host Los Angeles, and Bakersfield will travel to Little Rock Saturday night.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 6-4

Sioux Falls started the season slow, but they have played very well lately thanks to the play of Andre Brown. Brown is top 10 in the D-League in both scoring and rebounding, and has been unstoppable on the offensive end lately. In their pair of wins last week against Arkansas, they also received a very solid effort from newly acquired guard Vincent Grier. Grier was the last player cut by the Miami Heat before the season started, and is a very solid defensive player. To make it in the NBA, he will have to become a more consistent outside shooter. In his first two D-League games, Grier scored 21 and 17 points respectively. On Sunday, Sioux Falls won in Austin against the winless Toros thanks to another strong effort from Andre Brown.

This week, the Skyforce will try to keep their winning streak going Tuesday night as they play a tough road game in Fort Worth. They then host Austin Friday night, before traveling to North Dakota to face the Wizards on Saturday.

Tulsa 66ers, 5-5

Last week, Tulsa won a Tuesday game against Anaheim before dropping a pair of games to the Fort Worth Flyers. They received a 32 point, 10 rebound performance from Denham Brown on Tuesday. He has been a little more consistent lately, and is rebounding the ball very well. Will Conroy struggled Friday with 9 points and only 4 assists, but bounced back on Saturday with a 24 point and 8 assist effort. 7’1” Frans Steyn has started to emerge as a double-double threat lately, and had his best game of the season Saturday night, coming away with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He made 9 of his 11 free throw attempts as well, and could be a guy who gets an NBA look if he continues to develop.

Tulsa hosts 3 home games this week, starting with Tuesday and Friday games against the Bakersfield Jam. They complete their week with a Saturday game against Anaheim.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 5-5

The D-Fenders played just 1 game last week and lost by a 10 point margin to Idaho. Devin Green has continued to be one of the best players in the D-League thanks to his size and all-around versatility. He scored 20 points, and had 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 assists against Idaho. Newly acquired forward TJ Cummings made his presence felt right away by scoring 19 points on 9/13 from the field. Brian Chase has put up numbers for the D-Fenders, but is very inefficient a lot of the time. To make it back to the NBA, he will need to become a little better at distributing the ball, and improve his shot selection.

Los Angeles has a tough week ahead of them. They play 3 games on the road, starting with a Tuesday night game against the Dakota Wizards, They move on to Arkansas Friday before closing out the week with a Saturday game in Austin.

Anaheim Arsenal, 4-7

The Arsenal started last week with a pair of losses to Tulsa and Idaho, but rebounded with a Saturday night win in Bakersfield. Jawad Williams played very well last week and ranks at 6th in D-League scoring at just over 20 points per game. Corsley Edwards has remained inconsistent on the offensive end of the floor, but he has rebounded the ball very well. Andre Owens was a lot more efficient from the field last week, and scored 22 points on 11 shots Thursday night. To get back to .500, they will need more of these performances from Owens, as well as better play from their front court players.

This week, Anaheim plays back to back games on the road. They face a challenge in Fort Worth on Friday night, and travel to Tulsa for a Saturday night game.

Idaho Stampede, 3-6

Idaho started the season slow, but bounced back nicely last week with a pair of wins in California. Their wins in Anaheim and L.A. were both by double digit margins. 6’4” guard Ronell Taylor played well in both the wins. He scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Anaheim, and had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists against the D-Fenders. Randy Livingston has continued to distribute the ball with very few turnovers. Peter Ramos has scored the ball with efficiency lately, but still seems to lack drive at times, and has not rebounded the ball nearly as well as he should.

Idaho has a good test coming this week, as the Albuquerque Thunderbirds visit for a pair of games starting Friday night.

Bakersfield Jam, 1-6

Bakersfield played just one game last week, and lost to Anaheim by double digits. Brandon Bowman scored 14 points on 6/11 from the field, but was just 2/6 from the free throw line. Kevinn Pinkney scored 12 points on 6/12 from the field, but struggled with foul trouble, and only played 26 minutes. Tony Bobbitt will need to step up if the Jam are going to start winning some games. He was just 4/12 against Anaheim, and is only shooting 35% from the 3 point line. Bakersfield is hoping that newly acquired guard Gerry McNamara will be able to add a spark to their struggling team.

The schedule this week will be difficult for the struggling Jam. They play Tulsa on the road Tuesday and Friday, before traveling to Arkansas for a Saturday game.

Austin Toros, 0-9

The Toros remain the only winless team in the D-League after dropping 3 games last week. The lone bright spot for the Toros has been guard BJ Elder, who dropped 38 points in a 1 point loss against Dakota Friday night. Elder scored his 38 points on 16/26 from the field and 3/8 from 3. He is currently 2nd in the D-League among active players in scoring at 23.3 points per game. Jamar Smith had played well for the Toros up until this week, but he struggled against the Dakota Wizards thanks to the defense of Justin Williams. He is now averaging around 16 points and 7 rebounds per game on the season. If Austin is going to start winning some games, they will need solid play from newly assigned James White of the San Antonio Spurs.

This week, Austin will try to get their first win against Sioux Falls Friday night on the road. They travel back home for a Saturday night game against the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

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