Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Mar 20, 2007, 07:28 pm
Alan Anderson Returns to Charlotte

Alan Anderson, formerly of the Tulsa 66ers, has been signed by the Charlotte Bobcats for the remainder of the season. Anderson started the season with the Bobcats, but was cut on November 28th when they decided to sign veteran guard Derek Anderson. The 24 year old Forward played 6 games with Charlotte early this season, averaging 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes per game. With the Tulsa 66ers, Anderson averaged 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game.

Alexander Johnson Recalled from Arkansas

Rookie power forward Alexander Johnson of the Memphis Grizzlies has been recalled from the Arkansas Rimrockers. While in Arkansas, Johnson appeared in 5 games, averaging 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He appeared in 44 games for Memphis this season, but his playing time has been greatly reduced since the return of Pau Gasol. Johnson will likely see rotation minutes for Memphis at some point during the remaining regular season.

Dijon Thompson Leaves and Returns to Albuquerque

Forward Dijon Thompson was recently bought out of his contract, and was expected to sign with a team in the Italian first division. The team decided against signing him at the last minute, however, leaving Dijon as a free agent. Rather than seek another contract overseas, Thompson opted to return to Albuquerque, where he has averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game on the season. He received two 10 day contracts from the Atlanta Hawks in January, and was the 4th player called up to the NBA from the D-League this season.

Gilchrist Replaced by Camara

Point Guard John Gilchrist was cut from the Los Angeles D-Fenders last week, where he was replaced by center Babacar Carmara. Gilchrist started his season in France, and was immediately released. From there, he signed with Nahariya in Israel, where he looked great at times, but struggled to get along with the coaching staff. Camara provides the D-Fenders roster with added balance, as they were very guard heavy before the acquisition.

Hodge Returns to D-League, Wins Player of the Week

After being released from the Idaho Stampede, former first round pick Julius Hodge has returned to the D-League with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. In his first two games with the Thunderbirds, Hodge averaged 22.5 points, 12.0 assists, and 10.5 rebounds per game. For his strong performance, Hodge was named D-League Player of the Week. He will likely have to display improved shooting and defense to return to the NBA, but he will have a chance to assist Albuquerque in a final attempt at making the playoffs.

Amundson Receives Second 10 Day

The Philadelphia 76ers have decided to give Louis Amundsen a second 10 day contract. During his first 10 days, he appeared in 2 games for the 76ers, and averaged 1.5 rebounds per game. After his second contract expires, Philadelphia must decide whether they want to retain Amundson, or if they will look elsewhere to fill the 13th spot on their roster.

NBA Player Updates

Mile Ilic, Colorado 14ers/New Jersey Nets
5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg

Ilic only played in one of Colorado’s two games last week, and had his best D-League game to date. In a high scoring affair against Arkansas, he tallied 12 points and 10 rebounds while playing just 15 minutes. On the offensive end of the floor, Ilic has scored the majority of his points near the hoop. Inside, he has been effective as a rebounding and shot blocker, but it is yet to be seen if he will be able to translate this to the next level. Ilic didn’t play in Colorado’s last game due to an injury, but we don’t know the extent or seriousness of it at this point in time.

Amir Johnson, Sioux Falls Skyforce/Detroit Pistons
18.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.7 apg

Johnson played well in both of his games last week, totally over 20 points and 10 rebounds in each of his games. He is starting to gain more confidence on the offensive end of the floor. Though he still gets many of his points off of put backs and garbage points, Johnson can make hook shots and mid-range jumpers. He will need to work on playing a more physical style of basketball, and applying his natural athleticism better to defense and rebounding.

Damir Markota, Tulsa 66ers/Milwaukee Bucks
10.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.8 apg

Markota has started to adjust better to the style of play, but he will still need to be more confident with his shot. He has been passing the ball well lately, and doesn’t force too many shots at this point in time. Off the dribble, Markota has the tendency to pick his back foot up early, leading to some traveling calls, but he appears to have soft touch near the basket. Rebounding is an area where he could really concentrate on improving, he just doesn’t provide much effort in this area right now.

Patrick O’Bryant, Bakersfield Jam/Golden State Warriors
10.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.0 bpg

In terms of rebounding and blocking shots, O’Bryant is right where he needs to be right now. He has struggled some offensively since being sent back to Bakersfield, but he should be fine in this area once he becomes used to the extended playing time. The big thing for him the rest of the season will be the effort he brings to the court. He looked dominant at times on the court for Bakersfield earlier this season, but lacked intensity other times. O’Bryant has the talent to make it in the NBA, but it will take more than that for him to last in the NBA.

PJ Tucker, Colorado 14ers/Toronto Raptors
10.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 apg

Tucker has played well since returning to Colorado, and has produced despite not receiving consistent minutes yet. Tucker has done much of his scoring inside, and appears to be creating his shot off the dribble again D-League competition. He will still need to make progress with both his defense and the range on his shot. Tucker can shoot the mid-range jumper with limited success right now, but ideally he can add legitimate NBA 3 point range.

Marcus Vinicius, Tulsa 66ers/New Orleans Hornets
12.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.1 apg

Vinicius continues to display a lot of promise in his time in the D-League. Offensively, his 3 point shot hasn’t been falling with consistency, but rather than rely on it, he has started making drives to the basket. He has nice soft touch around the rim, and finishes creatively, despite the fact that he lacks athleticism. Vinicius has also displayed a nice all-around feel for the game, and has made some nice passes on his drives to the hoop. Athleticism will likely be a limiting factor for Vinicius throughout his career, but he may be skilled enough to overcome this.

D-League Team Updates

Idaho Stampede, 28-13

Idaho lost at home to Austin last week before splitting back to back games at home against Anaheim. Guard Ronell Taylor produced well for Idaho last week, and currently has averages of 13.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game this season. Luke Jackson also played well for Idaho as well, despite the losing record for Idaho last week. Badou Gaye, who was recently acquired as a free agent, has averaged 10.5 rebounds over his past two games.

Idaho is off this week until Saturday, which is the first night of back to back games in Albuquerque.

Colorado 14ers, 27-15

Colorado played in 2 up-tempo last week against an Arkansas, and they finished the week with a 1-1 record. In the win over the Rimrockers, Pooh Jeter came up big, dishing out 11 assists without turning the ball over once. Von Wafer has also became used to the D-League again, and had 20 points and 5 assists in his last game. Mike Harris and Rick Rickert have also been solid contributors for the 14ers lately, and they have seemed to adjust better to playing without Louis Amundson. Colorado more than likely has a playoff spot locked up at this point, and will spend the rest of the season fighting for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Colorado plays Bakersfield twice this week, starting with a game in Colorado on Wednesday, followed by a Saturday game in Bakersfield.

Dakota Wizards, 24-14

Dakota won back to back games against Arkansas last week, as well as a game against Tulsa. Rod Benson had his best game of the season against Arkansas, finishing with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Renaldo Major has kept his production at a high level, and Quemont Greer remains one of the better forwards in the D-League. Dakota has great balance on the roster from top to bottom, and they will be in a close fight with Sioux Falls and Fort Worth in the fight for the top spot in the East.

This week, Dakota opens up with a Wednesday game in Austin. From there, they travel to Arkansas for Friday and Saturday games.

Fort Worth Flyers, 24-14

Fort Worth is one of the hottest teams in the D-League right now, and went 3-0 on the week. They have been helped greatly by the return of Jeremy Richardson from the Portland Trailblazers. The loss of Luke Schenscher hurts Fort Worth up front, but Deji Akindele responded well with 19 points and 15 rebounds against Anaheim. Kevin Burleson has also started shooting the three point shot with good consistency, and his scoring continues to improve.

Fort Worth plays in Anaheim Wednesday, before traveling back home for Friday and Saturday games against Austin. On Sunday, they travel to Austin for their 3rd game in 3 nights.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 25-16

Sioux Falls, like Fort Worth, has won their past 5 games in a row. They won both of their games last week against Anaheim and Austin. Amir Johnson has been the best big man in the D-League throughout his second stint with the Skyforce. Stephen Graham’s all-around play has also been a key factor. Robert Hite and Frank Williams have picked up the scoring load lately for Sioux Falls as well. Winners of 8 of their past 10 games, the Skyforce will have to fight for the number 1 spot with Fort Worth and Dakota.

Sioux Falls hosts back to back games starting Friday night against Tulsa.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 20-21

Albuquerque won both of their games last week, despite playing without Dijon Thompson. Newly arrived guard Julius Hodge averaged a triple double in his first two games with the Thunderbirds, and won D-League player of the week honors. Brandon Robinson has also played quite well for the Thunderbirds lately. Duane Erwin has also helped out at center, and had 23 points to go with 14 rebounds and 3 blocks in his last game. Albuquerque has started to make a push for the final playoff spot in the West, which is the one spot that seems to be wide open at this point.

Albuquerque hosts Idaho for a pair of games on Saturday and Sunday.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 19-22

Los Angeles dropped both of their games last week to Fort Worth and Albuquerque. Sean Banks has been more consistent with his game lately, and has improved his averages to 18.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game since joining the D-Fenders. Brian Chase has also continued to impress people with his scoring ability. Even with the addition of Babacar Camara, the D-Fenders could still use another post player with the ability to score on the block. They are still in the playoff hunt, and it will help them greatly if they can string some wins together.

Los Angeles plays their only game this week on Sunday, when they host Bakersfield.

Anaheim Arsenal, 19-25

Anaheim split their two games last week against Idaho. Steven Smith has established himself as one of the better forwards in the D-League recently, and has at least 20 points and 6 rebounds in each of his past 6 games. Jawad Williams has been steady with his play, and Andre Owens has been very consistent lately. The biggest problem for Anaheim right now is their lack of depth at power forward and center. They remain in the playoff hunt, but they will need a winning streak to compete with Albuquerque and Los Angeles.

Anaheim plays their only game this week on Wednesday, when they host Fort Worth.

Austin Toros, 16-21

Austin won a game last week against Idaho, but lost to Sioux Falls. BJ Elder is now the leading scorer in the D-League, and he had a 37 point game against Idaho. Marcus Campbell has provided Austin with some needed depth up front, and Jamar Smith has kept his level of production consistent as well. It will be extremely difficult for Austin to make the playoffs at this point, but they have played better as of late, and recently passed Tulsa for 4th place in the East.

This week, Austin plays in Arkansas Tuesday before hosting Dakota on Wednesday. Friday and Saturday they play in Fort Worth, and they host Fort Worth on Sunday.

Tulsa 66ers, 17-23

Tulsa lost games to Dakota and Fort Worth last week. They will have to adjust to playing without Alan Anderson, which will increase the role of Denham Brown. Will Conroy has continued his steady production, and is averaging 10.9 assists per game on the season. It would help Tulsa if they could add another guard from the available player pool, but they have good depth up front right now, partially thanks to their NBA assigned players.

This week, Tulsa plays a pair of games in Sioux Falls on Friday and Saturday nights.

Bakersfield Jam, 13-29

Bakersfield dropped games to Fort Worth and Albuquerque last week. Mateen Cleaves has continued his steady production since joining the Jam, and has averages of 17.3 points and 8.1 assists per game this season. Gerry McNamara has struggled lately, as has Tamar Slay. The frontcourt featuring Patrick O’Bryant and Kevinn Pinkney will give Bakersfield a chance to compete for the rest of the season, but they will need stronger play from their backcourt.

Bakersfield plays in Colorado on Wednesday, before hosting Colorado on Saturday. On Sunday, Bakersfield travels to Los Angeles for an afternoon game.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 12-31

Arkansas lost a pair of games to Dakota last week, before splitting a pair of games with Colorado. They have a depleted lineup write now, as Alexander Johnson has been recalled to the NBA, and James Lang is struggling with an injury. Clay Tucker and Roger Powell have been the big bright spots for Arkansas this season, but they have lacked consistent production beyond those two players.

Arkansas hosts Austin on Tuesday night. Dakota travels to Arkansas for back to back games Friday and Saturday night.

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