Joey Dorsey, 'Dwight Howard of the D-League,' Shines at Showcase
Dorsey, a chiseled 6-foot-9, 265-pound physical specimen, fell to the 33rd pick for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2008's NBA Draft, but the Memphis product was traded on draft night to the Houston Rockets for the rights to Nicolas Batum, the 25th overall pick, showing that the Rockets had a profound interest in the big man.
However, after appearing in just three games for the Rockets in his rookie season, it seemed as though Dorsey would be an afterthought for the Houston Rockets, never taking advantage of a college career that saw him win two Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year awards along with being one of the leaders on three stellar Memphis teams from 2006-2008.
Over the summer, however, the Houston Rockets entered a hybrid partnership with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League. The hybrid model allows the Rockets to own the basketball side of the Vipers, leaving the business operations to the previous ownership. When the Rockets went out and hired Great Britain's national team coach, Chris Finch, as head coach and brought on NBA playing and coaching veteran Paul Mokeski to assist him, it showed that that the Rockets were going to take advantage of the franchise they bought into to this summer.
Wednesday afternoon, the results were visible. Dorsey, after spending every day since training camp as a Viper, showed immense signs of improvement. Up to that point, he was averaging an already impressive 14.9 points and 13.6 boards per game, though those numbers were often marred by poor shooting from both the field and the line along with a habit of getting into foul trouble early and minimizing his impact.
After showing much of those same issues in his first game of the Showcase on Monday, finishing with just eight points and eleven boards on 2-of-8 shooting, one scout professed to Draft Express that "he's out to lunch. The worst body language of any player I've seen at this event."
It's unclear if the word got back to Dorsey, but he clearly looked like a man possessed in his Vipers 115-107 win over the Bakersfield Jam.
Dorsey was bigger, faster and most definitely stronger than any other player out on the court leading Rockets GM Daryl Morey to proclaim that "he's the Dwight Howard of the D-League."
"I really think if he was given starting minutes in the NBA, he'd be in the top 15 in rebounding," Morey said. "He's here in the D-League to work on getting the other things up to that level. He's making strides."
"He's the type of player that is the future of the center position in the NBA."
Other Notable Performances
Dorsey, though, wasn't the only player to turn heads Wednesday.
· Sioux Falls Skyforce wing Reggie Williams had another incredible game, following up his excellent defensive performance from Tuesday. In 43 minutes of action, Williams had one of the most efficient games I've witnessed in person. Williams shot 15-of-19 from the field, finishing with a D-League season best of 43 points, including slamming back two athletic tip-dunks on his way to 10 rebounds.
· Another intriguing prospect is the Erie Bayhawks' Alade Aminu. The 22-year old Aminu didn't have an impressive career at Georgia Tech and hasn't been the presence in the D-League many thought he would be up to this point, but he came off the bench to show why he's one of the best long-term prospects at the Showcase. Aminu came out of his shell with an amazing 30-point, 23-rebound game, impressing many in attendance. If he's able to put together a similar game Thursday against the Los Angeles D-Fenders, he'll surely be on the fast track to an NBA call-up.
Scott Schroeder blogs obsessively about minor league hoops year-round at Ridiculous Upside