Opening Weekend from the D-League

Opening Weekend from the D-League
Nov 28, 2006, 07:50 pm
Williams and Jones to the Flyers, O’Bryant Declines D-League

The Philadelphia 76ers opted to send second year guard Louis Williams to the NBDL, along with rookie Bobby Jones. Williams is in his second year out of high school, and played in only 5 games during his rookie year. He had a terrific summer league at the Rocky Mountain Revue, but has struggled to crack the rotation so far behind Allen Iverson and Willie Green. Jones, a rookie out of Washington, was a second round pick in the draft this year that the Sixers traded for to acquire his rights. With Fort Worth, Williams will need to work on his point guard skills, and cutting down on turnovers. Jones is a very good defensive player, but will need to continue to improve on the offensive side of the ball.

Patrick O’Bryant, the 9th pick in the draft in June, declined the option to play in the NBDL, instead choosing to put in extra practice time. As a 19 year old center without much experience, time in the D-league could have been very beneficial to O’Bryant. Instead of improving by playing the game, he will try and improve by watching and learning from the bench. The trend of NBA rookies viewing the D-League as a punishment rather than an opportunity seems to continue, and its something the league must work on as far as it’s image is concerned...

Chase signs with L.A.

Guard Brian Chase, recently cut by the Jazz, has signed a contract to play with the L.A. Defenders. Chase has experience in both the D-League and CBA, and played with the Roanoke Dazzle last season. He will add another scoring threat to an already dangerous backcourt.

Devin Green, Call-up Candidate

Devin Green, the last cut by the Lakers before the season started, has played very well in his first NBDL games. He has put his versatility on display, playing the point guard position with ease. Green played last season with the Lakers, so he is familiar with the triangle offense, and is making a strong case for a return to the NBA with his aggressiveness on the offensive end. He is a good defender, capable of playing three positions, and is still young at 24 years of age. Green would fit perfectly on an NBA team looking for a versatile bench player, and it’s very possible that he will be the first player called up to the NBA this season.

Ryan Hollins Update

Hollins, the lone NBA player assigned to the NBDL at this point in time, played a good opening game. Saturday night, Hollins and the Flyers traveled to Austin to kick off their season against the Toros. He did very well, racking up 15 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks against a frontline returning two post players from last season. The most encouraging part of Hollins’ stat line is the 5 blocks. He has always had the potential to be a great shotblocker, but lacked the timing to take advantage of his natural leaping ability. If Hollins can continue to improve in this area, and learn to make better use of his body, he will have an opportunity to become a rotation big guy in the NBA. The Bobcats are in a position now where they have enough big men on their roster, and they can give Hollins a full two years of learning in the NBDL.

Team Reports

Arkansas Rimrockers, 1-1

Playing a back to back against the Tulsa 66ers, the Rimrockers were able to split the games behind efforts from a number of the D-League veterans they bring back this season. Brian Jackson, a 6-9 forward, was an all-league team honorable mention last season. He started strong on opening night with a 14 points 7 rebound and 3 assist effort, and followed it up the next night with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots. Fellow D-League veteran Myron Allen scored 30 points and had 5 assists Saturday night, but did turn the ball over 8 times. Olu Famutimi also started the season well, with 18 and 16 point efforts to start the season.

First round pick Matt Haryasz was able to grab 8 points to go with 9 rebounds on opening night despite foul trouble, though he struggled a lot more the second night. He will need to get back to his play the first half of last season at Stanford if he hopes to gain an NBA callup at some point during the season.

This week, the Rimrockers head to California, where they face Anaheim on Tuesday, and Bakersfield on Wednesday. They complete their road trip with a pair of games in Albuquerque on Firday and Sunday. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the tough schedule they have to deal with during the early part of the season.

Dakota Wizards, 2-0

The Wizards, formerly of the CBA, started the season with two very nice wins against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Justin Williams opened the season like he was still playing at Wyoming, and finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. He is one of the younger guys in the NBDL that NBA teams will be watching closely this season. Jerome Beasley also started out very nicely for the Wizards, scoring 23 points opening night, and following it up with some clutch baskets down the stretch in the following victory. Second round draft choice Quemont Greer also had a solid opening night, though he struggled the next night.

This week, the Wizards will face Tulsa on both Friday and Saturday. They will have the rest of the week to prepare for those two games, and they will face a very good 66ers team that returns some nice pieces from last season.

Colorado 14ers, 2-0

The expansion 14ers looked very impressive in a pair of wins on Friday and Saturday. They scored more than 120 points in both of their victories, and won in overtime on Saturday night. Point guard Pooh Jeter has put his scoring abilities on display to start the season, scoring 21 and 14 points in his first two career NBDL games. Hustle player Louis Amundson put his energy to full use on opening night while grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking 3 shots. He did struggle to duplicate the effort on the second night, however. Former Los Angeles Laker Von Wafer continued his streaky play, following up a 12 point opening night with 31 points.

This Colorado team has nice balance, and a lot of guys who can score the basketball. The NBDL is a league with a lot of player movement, but if Colorado can keep their core together, they could put together a very nice season this year.

The 14ers will host the Los Angeles D-Fenders on Friday, and the Idaho Stampede will play their third game of the season against Colorado on Sunday.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 2-0

Following up a championship run last season, the Thunderbirds opened their season with two convincing wins against Austin and Anaheim. Former Grizzlies point guard Troy Bell has started the season strong, showing up in shape, and scoring 17ppg over the first two games. Big men TJ Cummings and Marcus Douthit, who played for Albuquerque last season, both have picked up where they left off last season. Douthit, whose rights belong to the Lakers, had 24 points and 9 rebounds on opening night, followed by a 12 rebound performance. TJ Cummings is the son of former NBA player Terry Cummings, and he opened up the season with a 24 point performance.

Albuquerque has just added former Phoenix Sun and UCLA Bruin Dijon Thompson, who was assigned to the Thunderbirds at the beginning of last season. Considering they return many other key players, Albuquerque will be a tough team to beat with Thompson on board.

The Thunderbirds face off against Idaho tonight, before traveling to Arkansas this weekend for two games against the Rimrockers.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 2-0

The first D-League team controlled exclusively by an NBA team, Los Angeles started the season with a pair of wins against Bakersfield and Anaheim. Guard Devin Green, who played for the Lakers last season, is currently leading the D-League in scoring at 25.5 points per game. Green is a good all-around player who can play multiple positions, and could be one of the first call-ups of the season. Chet Mason has also started the season well, scoring 21 points his first game, and 14 the next night.

Going into the season, many people thought Jordan Farmar would be sent to the D-Fenders. He played well in the pre-season, however, and has played surprisingly well when given minutes with the Lakers. The other D-League eligible players on the Lakers, Ronny Turiaf and Andrew Bynum, have also been part of the Lakers rotation early in the season. It appears unlikely that the Lakers will use the D-League for one of their players this season, but it will still be interesting to see how different the D-Fenders are from the other NBDL teams.

The D-Fenders host Bakersfield tonight, before traveling to Colorado and Fort Worth for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday.

Fort Worth Flyers, 1-0

The Flyers lost in the D-League championship game last season, but return many players this year, including Kelenna Azubuike and former Chicago Bull Luke Schenscher. They won their opening game by a convincing margin in Austin. First round pick Kevin Burleson dished out 7 assists, but turned the ball over 5 times. Azubuike continued his strong play from the end of last season, scoring 23 points on 9-12 from the field, and grabbing 9 boards. Luke Schenscher added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Flyers have a lot of experience in developing NBA players, after having 7 players sent down last season. They have a new coaching staff this year, but they appear to be doing a good job with Ryan Hollins thus far. Now with Louis Williams and Bobby Jones on board, they will have a chance to continue to build up trust with NBA teams.

This week, the Flyers host Bakersfield on Friday, and Los Angeles on Saturday. They have an easy travel schedule to start the season, so they have a good opportunity to get into a groove early.

Tulsa 66ers, 1-1

The 66ers started the season by splitting a pair of close games against Arkansas. Denham Brown started the season by scoring 18.5ppg in two games, and hitting 3 of his 6 attempts from the 3 point line. Guard Will Conroy, who was in veteran’s camp with the Charlotte Bobcats, had 15 points and 10 assists on Saturday night after opening the season with 19 points.

Tulsa developed Ersan Ilyasova last season, who has started games for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. If the Knicks, Hornets, or Bucks decide to send any players down this season, the will be pleased with how their players are handled.

This week, Tulsa hosts a pair of games against Dakota on Friday and Saturday.

Bakersfield Jam, 0-1

The Jam waited until Sunday to play their first game, and they lost by 6 points to the L.A. D-Fenders. First round pick Brandon Bowman scored 11 points in his D-League debut. Andre McCollum led the team with 20 points in his first game after making the team through open tryouts.

Bakersfield will play 4 games this week. They face Los Angeles on the road on Tuesday before hosting Arkansas on Wednesday. They continue later in the week with a Friday road game against Fort Worth, following by a Sunday home game vs. Sioux Falls.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 0-2

The former CBA team has struggled with their transition to the NBDL, losing a pair of games to the Dakota Wizards. Former NBA point guard Frank Williams started off the season with a 32 point performance, followed up by 17 points in his second game. Second overall draft pick Andre Brown also started the season well, with 18 points and 9 rebounds in his opening night effort. Former Bull Jared Reiner added 19 points and 15 rebounds in his first game.

The Skyforce have a talented roster, but they may have trouble fitting everything together. Their frontcourt combined with Frank Williams will keep them in a lot of games, but they will need players like Chris Rodgers to step up. The Skyforce host Idaho Thursday and Friday, before traveling to Bakersfield on Sunday.

Anaheim Arsenal, 0-2

The Arsenal lost two games to open the season, losing to both Los Angeles and Albuquerque. Andre Owens struggled opening night, shooting just 1-14 from the field, and scoring only 2 points (though he did have 7 assists). Jawad Williams, who turned down a number of chances to make some money in Europe this season, played 2 good games for Anaheim, including a 23 point effort on opening night.

The Arsenal have a chance to recover tonight from their slow start as they host Arkansas, and they travel to Austin Texas for a weekend back to back. They will need better play out of Andre Owens if they want to turn things around.

Austin Toros, 0-2

Austin returned two of their big men from last season, but lost big to both Fort Worth and Albuquerque. Jamar Smith scored the ball well against the Thunderbirds in the opener, but only grabbed 3 rebounds. In the game against the Flyers, he shot 6-16 from the floor, and turned the ball over 7 times. BJ Edler had a good start to the season, and scored 22 points against the Flyers.

Austin is off for most of the week, which will give them time to make some adjustments. They play next on Friday and Saturday, when they host the Anaheim Arsenal.

Idaho Stampede, 0-2

The Stampede started their season with a pair of losses to Colorado. Former NBA point guard Randy Livingston racked up 24 assists in 2 games, but also had 11 turnovers. Eddie Robinson opened up with 24 and 22 point performances on efficient scoring from the field. There are few players in this NBDL as talented as Robinson, and if he is focused, he could find himself back in the NBA.

Idaho will have a chance to rebound from their slow start with 4 games this week. Starting Tuesday, they host Albuquerque, before traveling to Sioux Falls for games Thursday and Friday. They close out the week with a road game on Sunday in Colorado.

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