D-League Season Preview: Part Two

D-League Season Preview:  Part Two
Nov 12, 2007, 01:57 am
More D-League Content:

D-League Season Preview Part I
CJ Watson Blog
D-League Draft Recap
D-League Draft Preview

Idaho Stampede

2006-2007 Record: 33-17

Training Camp Roster:

PG: Randy Livingston/Martin Samarco/Dwuan Rice/Derrick Stevens
SG: Jamaal Tatum/Roberto Bergersen/Tim Jennings/ Marlon London
SF: Brent Petway/Ricky Woods/Ernest Scott
PF: Ricky Sanchez/Cory Violette/Jason Ellis
C: Lance Allred/Marcus Campbell/Dalron Johnson

Roster Outlook: At point guard, returning D-League MVP Randy Livingston will run the show for a second consecutive season. He is the favorite to lead the league in assists this season, but he could also see an NBA call-up if a team needs a veteran point guard who brings great intangibles to the locker room. Idaho spent their first round pick on Jamaal Tatum, who will start the season playing shooting guard. Tatum must focus on improving his point skills to attract more NBA attention, and could greatly benefit from the presence of Livingston. He’s a tough, smart rookie with lockdown defensive potential—which is key playing next to the slower Livingston. Brent Petway and Ricky Woods will man the small forward position this season. Petway may be the best athlete in the D-League, but must improve on improving his jumper and handles. Woods also needs to improve his perimeter stroke, but also has excellent athleticism to help make the transition. Roberto Bergersen could also swing over here, bringing vast overseas experience and a terrific shooting stroke from behind the arc. Power Forward Ricky Sanchez returns from a solid showing last season, and has terrific range on his shot as well as a decent slashing game. At just 20 years old, Sanchez has the upside and skill-set to develop into an NBA player, and Philadelphia has his rights, so he can be brought in at any point. Back-up power forward Cory Violette is known for his constant motor and basketball IQ, and brings excellent experience to the table after having played in the Italian league last season. At center, Lance Allred turned into a steal for Idaho last season once Peter Ramos was lost for the season. Back-up center Marcus Campbell has a couple seasons of D-League basketball under his belt. All in all, Brian Gates has assembled arguably the best roster seen in the entire league, with good depth at all positions, role players, athleticism, and plenty of experience.

NBA Affiliates: Seattle Sonics, Portland Trailblazers

Potentials Assignment Candidates: Seattle has already indicated that Saer Sene and Mickaël Gelabale will spend time in Idaho this season. Sene made progress with his rebounding and offensive game in the D-League last season, and could really blossom with the Stampede. Gelabale was part of the Sonics’ regular rotation last season, and has the athleticism and mind-set to be an energy player off the bench in the NBA. He must work on his perimeter jumper while in Idaho. Seattle rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green will stay with the Sonics the whole season.

Portland appeared to be more willing to use the D-League than most teams since the start of the season 2 years ago. Rookie point guard Taurean Green has been out of the rotation for the Blazers all season, and could brush up on his skills in the D-League, particularly his perimeter defense. The same goes for Josh McRoberts once he returns from an injury that has kept him out the entire season. The second year players all play big roles for Portland, and likely won’t be sent down at any point this season.

Season Outlook: Coach Brian Gates did a fantastic job with in-game coaching last season, and probably did better than any team with his player personnel decisions. Gates has put together an athletic roster this season while bringing back veterans from last season. The Stampede should again be in contention this season, but they might have to find another back-up guard from the available player pool. Interior defense and rebounding may also cause problems for the Stampede until they get Sene. Gates will need to find minutes for Tatum at the point, since he passed up six-figure contracts in Europe to sharpen up his playmaking skills in the D-League.

Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Expansion Team

Training Camp Roster:

PG: Walker Russell/Earl Calloway/Frank Richards/Anthony Kyle
SG: Jeremy Richardson//Roderick Wilmont
SF: Sammy Mejia/Justin Cage/Ron Howard/Eric Smith
PF: Corey Minnifield/Julius Ashby/Nate Gerwig/Casey Love
C: Larry Turner/Lukasz Obrzut/Shagari Alleyne

Roster Outlook: At point guard, the Mad Ants start Walker Russell Jr., who had a solid showing in Fort Worth towards the end of the last season. The son of an NBA player, he distributes the ball well, does a good job on the pick and roll, and should get the ball to the talented wing scorers on the team. Shooting Guard Jeremy Richardson may be the most talented player returning to the D-League this season after receiving three 10-day contracts from NBA teams last season. Richardson needs to continue to get stronger and improve his ball-handling skills, but has the tools to lead the league in scoring this season. He’s a great athlete with a terrific jumper and plays extremely hard. Back-up Roderick Wilmont has value as a spot-up shooter, and could definitely contribute this season. At small forward, the tandem of Justin Cage and Sammy Mejia may be the best in the league. Mejia has to become more consistent with his outside jumper, but has the slashing ability and shot-creating ability to make a big impact. He can play 3 positions for the Mad Ants, making the team extremely versatile. Expect him to see some minutes at the point at times. Justin Cage provides lockdown perimeter defense and the ability to hit an open three pointer. A heady player, Cage scores very efficiently and plays hard on both ends of the floor. Second round pick Lukasz Obrzut will split his time at power forward and center this season, and it will be interesting to see if he can develop with playing time. He has nice mobility and a solid touch for a 7-footer, but never really got a chance to show that at Kentucky. Center Larry Turner has the physical attributes for the NBA, including a great body and freak athleticism, but he must improve his all-around skill-set, which is exactly why he’s here.

NBA Affiliates: Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons

Potentials Assignment Candidates: The Pacers originally cut Courtney Sims and suggested that he enter the D-League available player pool, but they then turned around and signed him before the start of the season. Sims has only appeared in one game so far for the Pacers, and a long stay in Fort Wayne would make a great deal of sense for the undrafted rookie—although there are no assurances that Indiana will want to continue to pay him. Second year forward Shawne Williams has been a regular part of the Pacers’ rotation since returning from his suspension.

After using the D-League each of the past two seasons, it is clear that the Pistons see the league as a useful tool. Rookie center Cheikh Samb will likely spend time in Fort Wayne this season. Samb was a second round pick in 2006, and can hit a mid-range jumper on the offensive end, which combined with his ability as a shot blocker, make the rookie an intriguing prospect. Second round pick Arron Afflalo has been part of the Pistons rotation in the early season due to injuries, but there is an outside chance he will be sent down to Fort Wayne once the team becomes healthy. Rookie Rodney Stuckey might have been a lock to be the first guard off the bench for Detroit, but was sidelined in the final pre-season game with a broken hand. The first round pick should stick with the Pistons the whole season once healthy.

Season Outlook: The Mad Ants hit the jackpot when Jeremy Richardson somehow dropped to the second pick in the expansion draft (and then got cut from the Miami Heat), and their allocation players are some of the most talented in the league. They are stacked at point guard, shooting guard, and small forward, so the success of their season will depend on the play of their big men. If they can nab Courtney Sims or Cheikh Samb for an extended period of time, Fort Wayne could become contenders to make a deep playoff run. They will clearly need to find help at the power forward spot first, though.

Dakota Wizards

2006-2007 Record: 33-17, Champions

Training Camp Roster:

PG: Maurice Baker/Donta Richardson/David Bell/Tony Gipson
SG: Dontell Jefferson/Blake Ahearn/Johnathan Burris/Perrin Johnson
SF: Carlos Powell/David Palmer/Armein Kirkland/
PF: Rod Benson/Kibwe Trim/Will Frisby
C: Kevin Lyde/Aristide Sawadogo

Roster Outlook: The Wizards return both their point guards from last season. Maurice Baker plays a steady game and looks to get his teammates involved. Finally healthy after playing hobbled for most of the season, he will likely have another excellent with Dakota (his fourth in a row). Dontell Jefferson has a lot of upside due to his athleticism and defensive ability. Jefferson has the size to play the shooting guard spot, and will likely see a lot of minutes next to Baker this season helping out with the playmaking duties. Scorer Donta Richardson will come off the bench and could be a bit of a sleeper for Dakota. Shooter Blake Ahearn should also see minutes next to both returning guards this season. At the small forward, Carlos Powell is capable of creating offense at will, and could see an NBA contract with improved outside shooting. David Palmer has a sweet perimeter stroke and can play the shooting guard and small forward positions. At power forward, Rod Benson returns after coming off the bench for the Wizards last season. Benson really focused on rebounding, and could average a double-double with starter’s minutes this season. Kevin Lyde starts at center for the second year in a row, and has a polished low post game. The D-league vet must focus on staying out of foul trouble this season, which partially stems from his poor conditioning.

NBA Affiliates: Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards

Potentials Assignment Candidates: The Grizzlies have used the D-League in the past, and hired former Dakota coach Dave Joerger as an assistant this season. None of the Memphis players appear to be prime candidates to play in the D-League. Lotto pick Mike Conley Jr. plays in a crowded back-court, but had his best showing of the season the other night with 10 points and 9 assists. Second year guard Tarence Kinsey had a great finish to last season, but could maybe see some in Bismarck just to get on the court. Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay have received big minutes for the Grizzlies and will not be sent to the D-League.

The Washington Wizards have only 13 players on their roster, with rookie forward Oleksiy Pecherov currently injured. Pechrov played well in the pre-season and probably won’t see time in Dakota this year. Rookies Nick Young and Dominic McGuire are also likely to stay with the NBA club all season, though McGuire could benefit from extra minutes.

Season Outlook: The Wizards have returned talent at key positions from the team that won a championship a year ago. They drafted a number of outside shooters, but still lack some depth at the swing positions. They will also need one of their big men draft picks to step up and become a 6th man right away. Aristide Sawadogo stands at 7’1” and 260 pounds with a perfect basketball body and endless wingspan. He never produced well at the Division 2 level, but did play well in the A.B.A. last season. It is hard to say whether the Wizards have a chance of repeating until we see how new head coach Duane Ticknor handles his team, but they will certainly be in the playoff hunt this season.

Austin Toros

2006-2007 Record: 21-29

Training Camp Roster:

PG: Squeaky Johnson/ Daryl Dorsey/ Ashanti Cook/ Melvin Council
SG: Keith Langford/ Kenton Paulino/Levi Stukes/Ronald Blackshear
SF: Marcus Williams/Justin Bowen/ Patrick Fields/Joseph Works
PF: Kevin Pittsnogle/Eric Dawson/Tim Bush
C: Anthony Fuqua/Brad Stricker

Roster Outlook: Carldell ‘Squeaky’ Johnson lacks ideal size for a point guard, but could turn into an excellent distributor for the Toros. He is smart and steady and really knows how to push tempo and lock down on the other end of the floor. Keith Langford will play both guard spots, but is at his best off the ball. His perimeter jumper still needs work, but he has a rare ability to create his own shot. Marcus Williams joins the Toros after failing to make the Spurs out of camp, and will really need to focus on his outside jumper. His mid-range game and all-around scoring instincts could make him a potent scorer this season, though. Kevin Pittsnogle may make or break the season for the Toros this year. He reportedly enters training camp at 270 pounds, so it may take him time just to get back into shape. Athletic Anthony Fuqua returns as the probable starting center after a solid season off the bench last year.

NBA Affiliates: San Antonio Spurs

Potentials Assignment Candidates: The Spurs bought the Toros in the offseason, becoming the second NBA squad to own a D-League team. Rookie center Ian Mahinmi from France will most certainly play for the Toros this season. Mahinmi possesses an amazing body combined with freakish athleticism, but must further develop his offensive game, and focus on staying out of foul trouble on the defensive end. Undrafted rookie free agent Darius Washington played surprisingly well during the pre-season, and earned himself a roster spot with the Spurs. He might be sent to the Toros when Jacque Vaughn returns from injury, however.

Season Outlook: The Toros have more talent than last season, but could struggle with their depth up front. Last season, their biggest weakness was at the lead guard spot, which they have improved entering this season. If Langford steps up and leads the team like he did in Fort Worth two years ago, a playoff run will be a possibility for the Toros. Without Mahinmi, interior defense might turn into a problem, but every indication seems to point to a full D-League season for him this year. Otherwise, the Toros will really need to find some depth in their frontcourt, which appears pretty weak at the moment.

Recent articles

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop