Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Apr 12, 2007, 01:05 am
Randy Livingston A Sonic

Point guard Randy Livingston has been signed for the rest of the season by the Seattle Supersonics. In 46 appearances with the Idaho Stampede this season, the veteran guard averaged 12.3 points, 10.6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game. Livingston will be the 21st call-up of the season, and the second point guard to from the D-League to accomplish the feat over the past week.

A 32 year old out of LSU, Livingston has a great deal of experience as both an NBA and a minor league player. Before playing with the Idaho Stampede this season the D-League, he had played in both the International Basketball League and the Continental Basketball Association. This will be Livingston’s second career stint with the Sonics, his first coming in the 2001-2002 season. He finished last season with the Chicago Bulls, and has also played for the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Utah Jazz in his career which dates back to the 1996-1997 season.

At the start of the D-League season, Livingston was offered a coaching job with the Stampede, but he instead opted to try and make it back to the NBA one last time. He was noted for his veteran leadership on the court in Idaho, as well as high assist numbers. Currently, Livingston is tied with Clippers guard Will Conroy for the D-League lead in assists.

With Seattle, Randy Livingston becomes the second healthy point guard on the roster, with Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson both out for the rest of the season with ankle sprains. Livingston may lack the ideal physical tools to play in the NBA at this point in his career, but his knowledge of the game and leadership will be valuable to the younger players on the team. The only other healthy point guard on Seattle’s roster, Mike Wilks, also spent time in the D-League during the 2002-2003 season.

Pops Recalled From Flyers

Power forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu has been recalled from the Fort Worth Flyers to rejoin the Dallas Mavericks. Since the rookie has already played 3 D-League assignments this season, he will be ineligible to return to Fort Worth at any point this season. In 26 appearances with the Flyers, Mensah-Bonsu has averaged 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. The Mavericks will use the rookie from George Washington in their few remaining regular season games while they rest many of the regular rotation players. Next season, the Mavericks will be able to send Mensah-Bonsu to Fort Worth for more development should they decide to retain him.

Conroy Signed by Clippers

Point guard Will Conroy has joined the Los Angeles Clippers for the rest of the season, with a team option for next year. Conroy originally joined the Clippers on February 28th, but was cut when Jason Hart became available in free agency. With Sam Cassell potentially done for the rest of the season, Los Angeles needed a second healthy true point guard on the roster. Conroy sits atop the D-League assist chart in a tie with Randy Livingston at 10.6 per game.

Vinicius Recalled by Hornets

Last week, the injury-stricken New Orleans Hornets recalled rookie forward Marcus Vinicius. The Hornets have struggled with injuries lately, and needed the Brazilian forward for rotation minutes off the bench. Vinicius appeared in 13 games with the Tulsa 66ers this season he averaged 16.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. He displayed a good all-around feel for the game as well. To become a long term NBA player some improvement on the defensive end would really help, but he should stick around for a while if his current rate of development continues.

Gilchrist Joins Stampede

Point guard John Gilchrist has been acquired from the Idaho Stampede from the available player pool. Gilchrist was cut from his team in Israel earlier this season before joining the Los Angeles D-Fenders. On the D-Fenders, he played on a guard heavy roster and struggled to get consistent minutes. The former Maryland standout appeared in 10 games with Los Angeles and averaged 3.6 points and 1.2 assists per game. His role will be important with the loss of Randy Livingston for the rest of the season.

NBA Player Updates

Will Blalock, Sioux Falls Skyforce/Detroit Pistons
9.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.9 apg

Blalock had been struggling with his scoring from the field up until his most recent game, where he burst out for 25 points. He has the physical capabilities to get to the rim with ease, but his finishing ability and mid-range game could both use a great deal of work. A consistent aspect of Blalock’s game has been very low turnover numbers. In the half court, he has also broken down the defense with ease, and he has the vision to find the open man on the first pass. The time Will Blalock has spent in Sioux Falls has been beneficial to his development, and he has a chance to stick around the NBA for another year with a good summer.

Amir Johnson, Sioux Falls Skyforce/Detroit Pistons
18.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg 2.1 apg

After many dominant performances over the past month, Johnson struggled with foul trouble in his last outing, finishing the game with 8 points and 8 rebounds in just 31 minutes of playing time. In the playoffs, it will be important for him to play well against Dakota, who has a number of big man that can potentially control his effectiveness. Johnson continues to score very effectively near the basket, using superior vertical leaping ability and a well developed body to finish over any player in the D-League. It would be nice to see him focus more on developing a back to the basket game on the block, but the second year forward clearly has a future in the NBA, and will likely crack a rotation at some point over the next two seasons.

D-League Team Updates

Dakota Wizards, 31-17

The Wizards beat Fort Worth and Austin last week before dropping a game to the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Renaldo Major has continued with his complete slashing game on the offensive end in addition to lockdown defense on the other end of the court. Chris McCray has still been a little streaky as of late, but his production across the board has been much better. Rod Benson has continued to rebound the ball with great consistency, and the Wizards have the best balance of any roster in the D-League.

Dakota opens the final week of the D-League regular season with a Tuesday game against Arkansas, before closing with Friday and Saturday games in Austin.

Idaho Stampede, 31-17

The Stampede beat Sioux Falls last week before splitting a pair of games with Colorado. They have lost their starting point guard Randy Livingston, who has been like an assistant coach for them on the floor the entire season. Lance Allred has played very well for the Stampede in the middle, compiling a number of double-doubles over the past month. Ronell Taylor must learn to shoulder the leadership role for the Skyforce with Livingston gone, and a contribution from John Gilchrist will be important in the playoffs.

Idaho finishes their regular season at home with a Friday game against Tulsa and a Saturday outing against Los Angeles.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 29-19

Sioux Falls lost to Idaho and Arkansas last week before picking up a win against the Dakota Wizards. Frank Williams has been out with an injury lately, and his status is unknown to us at this point in time. Stephen Graham has been outstanding in nearly every aspect of the game recently, but his shooting remains sub-par by NBA standards. As long as Will Blalock and Amir Johnson remain with the Skyforce during the playoffs, Sioux Falls has a chance to compete for their first D-League title.

Sioux Falls wraps up their regular season with Friday and Saturday games in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Flyers, 28-20

Last week, the Flyers beat Colorado and Austin, but lost a game to Dakota. They were helped greatly by the presence of Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and they will struggle in the playoffs without him in their lineup. Jeremy Richards has started to get back into the flow of things after struggling with an injury for a couple games. Deji Akindele must play well for Fort Worth in the playoffs, since Luke Schenscher was signed away by the Portland Trailblazers for the remainder of the season. Ndudi Ebi has played well lately as well, but the team will need better play at the point guard slot to advance past Dakota and Sioux Falls.

This week, the Flyers close out their season at home against Sioux Falls on Friday and Saturday.

Colorado 14ers, 29-20

The 14ers lost to Fort Worth last week and split a pair of games with Idaho. Von Wafer has played extremely well lately, and now leads all active players in the D-League at 21 points per game. Pooh Jeter has continued his strong play as well, and he had a 34 point and 7 assist effort last week. Elton Brown has been strong as ever in the frontcourt, but the 14ers lack some depth in this area right now. They will need Rick Rickert to be consistent throughout the playoffs in order to have a chance to play for the title.

Colorado hosts Albuquerque Friday before traveling to Bakersfield on Saturday for their final game of the season.

Anaheim Arsenal, 23-26

Jim Hlavac

The Anaheim Arsenal have made a huge playoff push by beating the Los Angeles D Fenders three times in the past nine days. They are now 1/2 game ahead of Los Angeles and Albuquerque for the final playoff spot in the Western Division. Jawad Williams led the charge last week as he made two last second shots against Los Angeles in their 2-ot thriller. His three-pointer with 10 seconds in regulation forced overtime. In the 2nd overtime, Williams hit a 19 foot jump shot to tie the game with 30 seconds left and followed that with a long two as time expired. Williams clutch play helped fill the void left by Steve Smith's departure to Spain.

Anaheim plays their regular season finale at Los Angeles Thursday.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 22-26

The Thunderbirds lost to Los Angeles last week before defeating Bakersfield. Dijon Thompson has probably been the most complete player in the D-League this season, and has really attempted to make his teammates better down the stretch. Andreas Glynaidakis’ scoring has been effective from the low block, though he struggles defensively at times. The Thunderbirds will be greatly helped by the return of Tony Bland, and it may just be enough to grab the 6th and final playoff spot.

Albuquerque hosts Bakersfield on Wednesday before playing their season finale in Colorado Friday night.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 22-26

Jim Hlavac

Los Angeles has lost three straight to the Anaheim Arsenal and now trail Anaheim by 1/2 game for the third and final playoff spot in the Western Division. On Saturday, The D-Fenders battled back from an 11-point 4th quarter deficit only to lose to Anaheim in double overtime. New edition Nick Vanderlaan has been a rebounding machine for LA collecting 36 rebounds in 3 games. Los Angeles did squeeze a win over Albuquerque at home last week thanks to Brian Chase shooting the lights out. He shot 8 for 9 from the arc and finished with 33. Jordan Farmar of the Lakers joined the club for two games last week and looked good in his second outing with 20 points, 8 assists and only one turnover.

Los Angeles hosts Anaheim Thursday in a must win game and then travels to a depleted Idaho on Saturday to finish the regular season.

Tulsa 66ers, 21-28

Tulsa struggled last week after losing the best point guard in the D-League, and lost games to Arkansas and Austin. Des Farmer has put together a really strong finish to his season. He seems to be set on making the NBA next season, and he isn’t even considering playing in Europe at this point. He plays with great energy, but streaky perimeter shooting is the biggest problem for Farmer. Over the past couple weeks, the 66ers have lost Denham Brown to Europe, Will Conroy and Alan Anderson to the NBA, and Marcus Vinicius has been recalled by his NBA team as well.

Friday night, Tulsa will play their final game of the season in Idaho.

Bakersfield Jam, 18-30

Bakersfield lost their only game last week to the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. Scooter McFadgon scored 30 points in the game. McFadgon has a sweet shooting stroke in addition to a pretty good slashing game, and good size for a 2/3. The Jam clearly miss Kevinn Pinkney, who is currently playing out a 10 day contract with the Boston Celtics. Gerry McNamara has continued to see a slip in playing time. He has struggled since the arrival of Mateen Cleaves, who pretty much took over as the primary ball handler on the team.

Bakersfield closes their inaugural season with a Wednesday game in Bakersfield and a home game on Sunday versus Colorado.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 16-34

Last week the Rimrockers won a pair of games against Sioux Falls and Tulsa. Clay Tucker and Roger Powell stepped up in both victories. Both players might not make the NBA next season, but both have great earning potential in some of the top leagues overseas. Matt Haryasz has played with good consistency since returning from his latest injury, but he must prove he can stay healthy in addition to adding lower body strength. Anthony Roberson has proved to be very effective in the D-League as well, though he can be very streaky at times.

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