Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Jan 30, 2007, 05:10 pm
Conroy Added to Memphis

After agreeing to a buyout with Guard Eddie Jones, the Memphis Grizzlies have signed Will Conroy of the Tulsa 66ers to a 10 day contract. Conroy has spent the last season and a half with the 66ers, and has been the best point guard in the D-League this season. He is the 8th D-League player to receive a chance in the NBA this season. With Tulsa, Conroy averaged 15.8 points, 10.3 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies currently have Damon Stoudamire and Chucky Atkins at the point guard spot, with rookie Kyle Lowry out for the season. From what we're hearing, Chucky Atkins is not seeing eye to eye with new head coach Tony Barone, and the Grizzlies have been trying to showcase him lately in an attempt to get some value for him in a trade. Atkins had an unbelievable 29 point, 15 assist, 1 turnover performance last week in a win at Utah. Conroy is expected to stick around in Memphis for the entire season, and will almost certainly see minutes once/if Atkins is traded.

Barea Scores 40 Twice in Three Games

Last Thursday, Jose Juan Barea of the Dallas Mavericks scored 43 points in a road loss to the Idaho Stampede. Two games later, Barea dropped 41 points in a close home win against the Dakota Wizards. The rookie point guard from North Eastern has averaged 36.3 points per game, and has led the Fort Worth Flyers to a 2-1 record in that span. These two performances led to Barea receiving the D-League player of the week award.

CJ Miles and Sene Recalled

Second year guard C.J. Miles and rookie Center Mohammed Saer Sene have been re-called from the Idaho Stampede. Miles was re-called by the Utah Jazz after averaging 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Miles also spent time in the D-League with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds during his rookie season

Sene averaged 7.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 18 minutes per game. After being called up, Sene returned to Seattle and scored 10 points in 11 minutes, but played mostly in garbage time. The Stampede had 6 days without a game, so it’s possible that Sene and Miles were called up for evaluation purposes, and could be sent back to Idaho at some point during the season.

Major Back to Wizards

After completing a 10 day contract with the Golden State Warriors, Renaldo Major has returned to the Dakota Wizards. Major appeared in 1 game for the Warriors, when they only had 7 players available. He played two road games in Fort Worth since returning to the Wizards, and scored 21 and 15 points in these two games. To get back to the NBA, Major will have better odds if he can improve his three point shooting, and his ability to hit a jumper on the move.

Dijon Thompson to Albuquerque Again

After completing his second 10 day contract with the Atlanta Hawks, Dijon Thompson will re-join the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. Thompson has appeared in 6 games for the Atlanta Hawks this season, and averaged 2.8 points in 8.3 minutes per game. He was one of the top players in the D-League during his stint in Albuquerque this season, and will return to a squad in use of another perimeter scorer. Expect Thompson to put up big numbers again, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him receive another chance in the NBA this season.

Curtis Stinson Joins Dakota

Curtis Stinson has been acquired from available player pool by the Dakota Wizards. Stinson entered the draft out of Iowa State as a junior, and was released from a contract overseas recently. He has played the 2 guard for Dakota in his first two D-League games. He has put the ball on the floor well, and gets to the line with a lot of consistency thus far. Stinson will need to work on his point guard skills if he wants to become an NBA player. He is averaging around 16 points per game thus far, but is shooting under 40% from the field.

Steven Smith Signed by Anaheim

Steven Smith has recently been added to the front line of the Anaheim Arsenal. Smith went un-drafted in June, and made the Philadelphia 76ers opening day squad. He was recently cut in January by the Sixers, who didn’t want to have to pay the luxury tax on him. Smith has started slow in the D-League, but there will be an adjustment period before he gets comfortable with his teammates and the style of play. In three D-League games, he has averaged 4.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in 15 minutes per game.

James White Re-Called

Rookie James White of the San Antonio Spurs has been recalled from the Austin Toros for the second time this season. Per the terms of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, White can only be sent down to the D-League once more this season. White has appeared in 16 games for the Austin Toros this season, and averaged 16.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists per game. He has displayed the ability to play well in the D-League, but he will need to use his athleticism more effectively and develop NBA range on his shot if he’s going to stick with the Spurs. White hasn’t played for the Spurs yet this season, and has only been active for 1 game.

Roberson to Rimrockers

Guard Anthony Roberson has returned to the Arkansas Rimrockers, where he spent some time last season. Roberson opened the 2006-2007 regular season with the Golden State Warriors, but was cut for luxury tax purposes to allow the Warriors to keep Kelenna Azubuike. Roberson appeared in 20 games with Golden State, and scored 5.6 points in 11.4 minutes per game. In his season debut with Arkansas, he struggled from the field, scoring 7 points in 30 minutes on 3 of 18 from the field. The Rimrockers currently have the worse record in the D-League, and hope Roberson can give them a scoring boost out of the backcourt.

Williams and Brown Signed for Duration of Season

Former D-League power forwards Justin Williams and Andre Brown have received NBA contracts for the rest of the season. Williams was signed by the Kings, and has averaged 2.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 5 NBA games. He was one of the top rebounders and shot blockers in the D-League with the Dakota Wizards this season. Andre Brown has played in 9 games with the Seattle SuperSonics, and averaged 4.1 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. He has responded well when given minutes, and even had a game saving block a couple weeks ago.

NBA Player Updates

Jose Juan Barea, Fort Worth Flyers/Dallas Mavericks
27.6 ppg, 7.7 apg, 5.5 rpg, 53% fg 42.5% 3pfg

Barea has displayed the ability to play as both a scorer and a distributor in the D-League. As a scorer, he has displayed the ability to shoot the three pointer both from behind the three point line and from mid-range off the dribble. In the game he scored 41 points, Barea started off the game by hitting three shots off of high pick and rolls from around the three point line. Barea also has the quickness to get to the basket against any other guard in the D-League. Inside, he finishes very creatively, but sometimes lacks the size to finish against taller players. To make up for this, he has a nice floater that he can hit against anybody from about 10 feet. Barea’s biggest weakness when it comes to the NBA will always be lack of size. This doesn’t hurt him much on the offensive end, but will be a big hindrance on the defensive end. In the NBA, opposing coaches will always try to post Barea up against bigger point guards. Still, there aren’t many third point guards in the NBA right now who have Barea’s combination of scoring and distributing ability, and he should stick in the NBA for a long time.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Fort Worth Flyers/Dallas Mavericks
14.8 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 1.29 bpg, 55.3% fg, 55.2% ft

Mensah-Bonsu take full advantage of his athleticism in the D-League on both ends of the floor. Because of his vertical leap, he has been rebounding the ball very well lately. On the offensive end, Pops loses a lot of rebounds, however, because he always tries to power-dribble before he goes back up with the ball. Smaller players get their hands on the ball when he brings it down for the power-dribble, so Mensah-Bonsu needs to start keeping the ball high and going right back up with it. He doesn’t create much of his own offense, but he has at least developed a couple moves in the post. The problem here is that Pops fades away from the basket on many of these moves, and needs to work on being strong and drawing contact. The biggest weakness for Mensah-Bonsu at this point appears to be free throw shooting. His release constantly changes through the game, and he is shooting about the same percentage from the field and the free throw line at this point in time. Defensively, Mensah-Bonsu blocks a lot of shots, but will have more difficulty doing this in the NBA against bigger and smarter players. Once his size and athleticism are matched, it will be a lot harder for him to be effective. Still, Pops has played very well for the Flyers lately, and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the D-League.

Patrick O’Bryant, Bakersfield Jam/Golden State Warriors
7.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.33 bpg, 1.3 apg, 45.2% fg, 68.4% ft

After being called out by Warriors coach Don Nelson, O’Bryant has responded to the criticism by playing well over the last two games. He has scored more effectively from the field, and has displayed the ability to step out and hit the mid-range jumper on a limited basis. O’Bryant still needs to work on developing a back to the basket game, but has used his length more effectively inside lately. He has a very long wingspan, and can alter shots effectively at times, but he will need to work on timing and defensive positioning before he reaches his potential in this area. O’Bryant still looks like he could stand to play more aggressive on the court, however, but his improvement lately is a good sign for the Warriors.

P.J. Tucker, Colorado 14ers/Toronto Raptors
9.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 44.3% fg, 20% 3pfg

Tucker has been playing better lately, after struggling early during his D-League assignment. He still struggles to hit jumpers outside of 20 feet, but can finish very effectively at times in the paint. He doesn’t receive a whole lot of shot attempts sometimes either, so it may be hard for him to get into the flow of things on such a stacked team. Defensively, Tucker gets beat off the dribble too often, but can use his length well to contest shots. He has a lot of potential in this area if he learns to close out against perimeter players. Tucker still looks like a project in terms of playing the 3 in the NBA, but it will be interesting to see if he can develop more throughout the rest of the D-League season.

D-League Team Updates

Fort Worth Flyers, 16-7

Last week Fort Worth went 3-1, splitting a pair of tough road games in Idaho before beating second place Dakota in back to back games over the weekend. The Flyers have started to play really well lately, and have regained first place in the D-League. Their strong play can be attributed to Jose Juan Barea and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, both of whom have dominated lately. Kevin Burleson has struggled this season, but has picked it up lately, and shoots the three point well in addition to being a good passer. Luke Schenscher has also been solid lately, and they have a lot of guys they can bring off the bench up front.

This week, the Flyers play 3 more games at home. Wednesday night they host Bakersfield, and the struggling Rimrockers play a back to back starting Friday night.

Dakota Wizards, 15-7

The Wizards dropped both of their games last week in Fort Worth over the weekend. Renaldo Major rejoined the team for the two games, and played well, despite his lack of outside shooting ability. Major and teammate James Maye are both averaging 17.9 points per game this season. Maye has continued to shoot the ball well from the outside, and never forces it on offense. He’s not the most athletic or create guy near the basket, but he plays very well within the flow of the offense. Center Rod Benson has played well for Dakota lately after being released by Austin earlier in the season. Benson had 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the losing effort on Saturday. Dontell Jefferson has continued his solid play recently, but continues to split minutes at the point guard with Maurice Baker.

This week, Dakota will play in Albuquerque on Wednesday and Friday. They return home for a game against Tulsa on Saturday.

Idaho Stampede, 17-8

After going on the longest winning streak of the D-League season, Idaho finally lost a game last week, and they are now tied for third in the league with Colorado. They played Fort Worth in back to back games last week, and split the two games. Randy Livingston has continued to be a coach on the floor for Idaho, and distribute the ball as well as anybody in the league. Ronell Taylor has played well recently, and scored 32 points in their last win against the Flyers. They have also been re-joined by Luke Jackson, who completed a 10 day contract with the L.A. Clippers. They will have to learn to play without C.J. Miles and Mohammed Saer Sene, who were recalled to the NBA, but they still have a lot of talent and should be among the top teams in the league for the rest of the season.

This week, Idaho hosts Austin on Wednesday, before playing Friday and Saturday night games against the L.A. D-Fenders.

Colorado 14ers, 17-8

Colorado went 2-1 last week, dropping a game to Austin before winning against Los Angeles and Anaheim on the road. Von Wafer has continued his reign as one of the best shooting guards in the D-League. He is helped in the backcourt by point guard Pooh Jeter, who does a great job controlling the tempo of the game, and makes his teammates better. Louis Amundson has continued to play very well since returning from his injury, and is a player who should receive a chance in the NBA at some point this season. Mike Harris and Rick Rickert have also been consistent contributors for the 14ers recently.

This week, Colorado hosts Tulsa on Friday and Arkansas on Saturday.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 15-11

Last week, Sioux Falls dropped two games on the road to Tulsa, with one of the games going to overtime. Frank Williams had his best game of the season in the overtime loss, scoring 37 points and dishing out 7 assists, while shooting 7 of 15 from the three point line. Jared Reiner has continued to be one of the most dominant inside presences in the D-League, and he had 23 rebounds and Friday night. Stephen Graham has also played very well lately, despite his lack of perimeter shooting. There are few players in the D-League who can defend on the perimeter like Graham.

This week, the Skyforce host the Anaheim Arsenal for Friday and Saturday night games.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 13-12

Last week, L.A. went 2-1, with victories over Albuquerque and Bakersfield, and a loss to Colorado. Sean Banks has really been playing well lately since re-joining the D-League. He is averaging 20.6 points per game since joining the D-Fenders, and could be a candidate for an NBA call-up if he continues to put all of his natural talent to use. Andre Emmett has also produced well since being cut from overseas and joining the D-Fenders. Brian Chase has continued his streaky play, but had 18 points in the win on Saturday. The D-Fenders look more complete as a team recently, and could start to string together some wins over the next couple games.

This week, Los Angeles plays Friday and Saturday night games in Idaho.

Tulsa 66ers, 12-14

Last week, Tulsa defeated Sioux Falls in a pair of back to back games at home. Will Conroy was largely behind these wins, and Tulsa will have to work on adjusting to playing without Conroy, who has spent the last season and a half with the team. Alan Anderson has stepped up and played well since joining the 66ers, and he had his season high 40 points on Saturday night. He has done about all he can in the D-League to prove that he can play in the NBA. Desmon Farmer and Mike Hall have also continued to put up solid contributions for Tulsa.

This week, Tulsa plays in Colorado on Friday, and in Dakota on Saturday night.

Anaheim Arsenal, 12-16

Last week Anaheim won a pair of games against Albuquerque on Wednesday and Friday nights, but dropped their Saturday game against Colorado. Majic Dorsey has continued to excel under the new coach. He had 25 points and 10 assists last Wednesday night, and he followed it up over the next two games with 22 assists and 1 turnover. Andre Owens has continued to be streaky, but had a 24 point fourth quarter against Albuquerque. Jawad Williams has also continued to produce at a very steady rate, and his ability to get to the free throw line has helped Anaheim a great deal recently.

This week, Anaheim plays in Sioux Falls on Friday and Saturday nights.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 10-16

Albuquerque has won only 3 of their past 10 games, and went 1-3 last week. Tony Bland and Joe Shipp have been solid contributors for the Thunderbirds this season, but neither player has a skill that stands out. Cedric Bozeman has played very well since joining the Thunderbirds, and is averaging 15.2 points and 10.7 assists per game. The Thunderbirds will be helped greatly when they are re-joined by Dijon Thompson, who was their best player for much of the season.

This week, Albuquerque hosts Dakota on Wednesday and Friday. They play a road game in Fort Worth on Saturday night.

Austin Toros, 9-16

Austin went 2-0 last week, defeating Arkansas and Colorado. Brad Buckman had his best game of the season against Arkansas, where he scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Loren Woods has also really started to play well recently, and has double doubles in his last two games. Considering his size, NBA experience and skills, there are few that compare to Woods in the D-League. B.J. Elder’s scoring has dropped a little recently, but he has continued to produce very efficiently for Austin. The Toros will struggle to adapt to playing without James White for the time being, but their play up front has helped them win some games recently.

This week, they open up Wednesday night with a game in Idaho. They finish up with Friday and Saturday home games against Bakersfield.

Bakersfield Jam, 7-17

Last week, Bakersfield lost games to Los Angeles and Albuquerque. Gerry McNamara has been a consistent scorer for Bakersfield, but hasn’t been distributing well lately, and still takes too many three point shots. Kevinn Pinkney has played very well this season, but is struggling from the field recently. Brandon Bowman has also continued with his inconsistent play. For Bakersfield to start to string some wins together, they will have to hope they can add a consistent scoring guard to their backcourt.

Bakersfield opens up this week with a game in Fort Worth on Wednesday night. They finish up with Friday and Saturday night games in Austin.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 6-17

Last week, Arkansas lost their only game by double digits to Austin. Clay Tucker was held to 24 minutes in the game, and has really struggled to find his shot recently. Roger Powell had the best game out of anybody on Arkansas, and finished with 20 points in his third D-League game this season. Anthony Roberson went just 3 of 18 from the field in his first D-League game of the year, and he has struggled to find his shot since playing well early in the season for the Warriors.

This week, Arkansas plays a pair of tough road games against Fort Worth on Friday, and in Colorado on Saturday.

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