D-League Showcase: Notes From Day 2
BOISE, Idaho -- "If you have it, they will come. They'll come to Idaho for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up at the Showcase not knowing for sure why they're even doing it."
Loosely based on the famous speech from Field of Dreams, I feel that's probably how the NBA's D-League Showcase came about. Why else would the D-League invite scouts from the NBA and top European clubs to Boise, Idaho in early January if it wasn't a crazy thought that came from a D-League front office exec's head?
However, like in the classic movie, the D-League Showcase works. The four-day event meant to showcase the top talent in the D-League has drawn the Boston's Danny Ainge, Houston's Daryl Morey, San Antonio's R.C. Buford, Oklahoma City's Sam Presti and Denver's reigning NBA Executive of the Year Mark Warkentien, among other high ranking NBA officials and overseas GM's and scouts.
The D-League receives such a good turnout because it's a quick 16 games in four days, featuring all 16 D-League teams playing twice in one location. And, for the majority of the scouts in attendance, they don't even have to leave their hotel, because the Grove Hotel is actually attached to the Qwest Arena. It seems almost like another gathering to get face-to-face with everyone, a sort of winter version of the Vegas Summer League.
The Showcase started Monday, so if you'd like to catch up, I recapped the first day at my usual domain, Ridiculous Upside. Today featured a better showing from the top talent, better overall basketball (I blame yesterday's terrible play on the fact that several teams got in late the night before and played early, or got in that morning and played that evening) and even a decent crowd, comprised of a few local basketball fans, a few D-League teams and many, many scouts.
The biggest news of the day was an NBA call-up on the advent of 10-day contracts, as Idaho's Sundiata Gaines was called-up to the Utah Jazz to take the open roster spot that was created when Utah traded Eric Maynor and Matt Harpring for the rights to Peter Fehse. However, with all of the NBA scouts in attendance and all of the ridiculously-upsided players on the court, I'd assume that Gaines wasn't the last player to make a solid impression in hopes of improving his chances for, at the very least, a 10-day call-up. While many players stood out, I thought the Sioux Falls Skyforce Reggie Williams left the best impression on the scouts the second day of the Showcase.
Williams, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound wing, has been one of the best scorer's in the D-League this season (24.7 ppg, 58% FG), harking back to the days when he led the NCAA in scoring (top scorer in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons) while playing at Virginia Military Academy. However, here at the Showcase, the scouts aren't looking for scorers but all-around players that can come in and contribute everywhere.
Word around the league is that if Williams was going to receive a call-up it wouldn't happen until he showed he can play defense. Sioux Falls' head coach Tony Fritz gave him one of the tougher assignments in the D-League, thus allowing Williams to showcase his defensive prowess: the leader of the Maine Red Claws, Billy Thomas.
Thomas, who has played in parts of three seasons in the NBA, torched the Los Angeles D-Fender's for 22 points while shooting 7-of-9 from beyond the arc at the first day of the Showcase. Fritz put the bull's eye on his chest, though, and Williams nailed it, completely denying Thomas any offensive opportunities, holding him to zero points while shooting 0-for-4 in 36 minutes of action. Williams himself finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting while adding eight rebounds and four assists.
Scott Schroeder blogs obsessively about minor league hoops year-round at Ridiculous Upside