Say whaa? Since when does the D-League hold a draft let alone make any noise outside of very small market cities? They have been doing it for a few years now. Tonight, November 1, the NBA Developmental League held its annual draft. So how does this have any relation to the NBA other than being a player purgatory of sorts, you ask? NBA teams and the league itself are shifting the premise of the D-League into what can be considered a minor league of the NBA much like the system that Major League Baseball employs. This will allow teams to “grow” talent within their system without forcing some young players to sit at the end of a teams bench missing valuable actual game time.
The D-League Draft is quite unlike its counterpart in the NBA. It is an eight round event that is serpentine in nature meaning that the draft order alternates each round.
As this molding continues to take place the D-League will become a more viable component to professional basketball as it could potentially help keep drafted and undrafted players from departing for leagues overseas. On to the big question:
Who are these guys and more importantly who drafted them? (We are just going to tackle the first round because we like our sanity.)
1. Nick Fazekas – Reno Bighorns (Warriors, Kings)
This is a return of sorts for Fazekas as he played college basketball at the University of Nevada Reno. Those familiar with the Dallas Mavericks may recognize Fazekas (or at least vaguely remember his name) because he was drafted by the Mavericks in 2007. Since then he has played with the Clippers and in Belgium and France. He will join the Bighorns who are coached by Eric Musselman, another name familiar to basketball fans (he used to coach the Kings and Warriors).
2. Alan Anderson – New Mexico Thunderbirds (Hornets, Magic)
Anderson had a modest NBA career after being undrafted in the 2005 NBA Draft. He appeared in 53 games with the Charlotte Bobcats before heading for teams in Europe and Israel. He played college basketball at Michigan State. The Thunderbirds are coached by Darvin Ham.
3. Magnum Rolle – Maine Red Claws (Celtics, Bobcats)
It has to be said that Rolle has one of the best, if not slightly inappropriate, names in sports. Rolle was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2010 with the 51st overall pick. He played this summer with the Indiana Pacers’ Summer League team.
4. Matt Rogers – Texas Legends (Mavericks)
This is the inaugural pick of the Texas Legends. Rogers was the NCAA Division II Player of the Year in 2009 while he was at Southwest Baptist. He appeared in three preseason games with the Bobcats this year. He will be a nice addition to the roster that Head Coach Nancy Lieberman has to work with.
5. Vernon Goodridge – Springfield Armor (Nets, Kicks, 76ers)
The only thing that the Armor had going for them last year was that they played in a town named for the one the Simpsons live in. Goodridge, 6-foot-9, is out of LaSalle and was a camp invitee of Golden State this year.
6. Chris Lofton – Iowa Energy (Bulls/Suns)
If you are still reading at this point, I commend you. You either care deeply about the game of basketball and supporting our blog or just have nothing better to do. When I think of Iowa, energy is not the first thing that comes to mind. It must be some kind of loose reference to ethanol or some other wasteful subsidized crop. Anywho,
7. Robert Vaden -Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets)
Vaden attended Alabama-Birmingham University where he was named First Team All-Conference USA as a junior. He reached the 1000 point mark in just his 50th game at UAB, becoming the fastest player to do so in school history. These are just a few of the feats that Vaden performed in college. He also had 15 20 point or more outings in college. The Charlotte Bobcats selected him 54th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. Vaden is a natural scorer and will likely become the leading scorer on the Tulsa 66ers…because he was traded to them for Mustafa Shakur.
8. Brandon Costner – Utah Flash (Hawks, Jazz)
Costner, 6-foot-9, attended the other college in North Carolina, NC State. Last year he played in Belgium. In 2005 he was a McDonalds’ All American out of Seton Hall Prep.
9. Chris Johnson – Dakota Wizards (Grizzlies, Wizards)
The Wizards have been one of the most consitent D-League teams in recent years having made the playoffs each year since joining the league including winning the D-League Championship for the 2006-07 season. Now they add NFL running back, Chris Johnson to their roster. This will be the greatest crossover player since Bo Jackson. Just kidding, this is a different Chris Johnson but that would have been cool. This Johnson attended LSU and averaged 9.65 points and 6.9 rebounds during his junior and senior years combined.
10. Obi Muonelo – Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pistons, Pacers, Bucks)
Muonelo played in five games with the 76ers’ Summer League team over the summer averaging three points and 1.8 rebounds in 11 minutes of game time. He played college ball at Oklahoma State. I have personally seen this kid play and he can simply light it up from behind the arc. At 6-foot-5 he falls into the range of a combo or hybrid guard but that is the way of the sport right now so he should do just fine. It would not be a surprise if he gets called up to the “Show” at some point.
11. Cheikh Samb -Sioux Falls Skyforce (Heat, Timberwolves)
Samb, from Senegal, has played in the D-League before for two different teams but did not play in the league at all last season as he was with Spanish club Real Madrid. He has been a member of the Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets and was one of the players included in the trade that sent Allen Iverson to Detroit. Samb has recorded a triple-double once in D-League play.
12. Marqus Blakely – Bakersfield Jam (Clippers, Lakers)
Blakely was a standout at Vermont and was signed to a partially guaranteed contract this summer by the Clippers. He is yet another forward to be taken in the first round of the draft although at 6-foot-5 he will likely become a wing or two guard. During his senior campaign at Vermont, Blakely averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds with 1.9 blocks and 2.4 steals per game. These are the numbers of an all around player.
Many of the first 12 picks in the D-League Draft were big men, either power forwards or centers. This is because these positions are rarities in the the league as they have an overflow of wings and guards. Plus, good swing players are available throughout the deep rounds of the draft as all the big men usually go first due to the importance placed on them by teams. Do not be shocked to see any of these names deep on an NBA roster near you towards the end of the regular season.