The 19 teams that make up the D-League are in Santa Cruz for the annual D-League showcase. Seats in the Kaiser Permanente Arena will likely be full of scouts and other NBA front office execs, especially since Tuesday signaled the start of the 10-day contract signing period. January 10 also marks the day when all NBA contracts become guaranteed for the season, so expect a ton of movement for the remainder of this week and next.
The D-League’s top talent will be doing their best to become noticed enough to earn a 10-day contract, and potentially a contract for the remainder of the season. We’ve already seen several call-ups this season, but that will be nothing compared to what is yet to come. Teams will be working to find the next Danny Green or Hassan Whiteside.
The 6-5 Santa Cruz guard is an NBA veteran that has been absolutely lighting up the D-League. on the season, he’s averaging 28 points, seven rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
The NBA journeyman has been on a hot streak and is shooting at a 50 percent clip from the field in his second D-League stint.
The D-League has plenty of talent at the guard positions and Reno’s Erick Green does not buck that trend. The 6-3 guard has averaged 27 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He too has been quite the sharpshooter, knocking down 52 percent of his shot attempts and 45 percent beyond the arch.
Green isn’t the fastest guard, but he has a multitude of tools to use to penetrate into the lane, and he also loves the pull-up three, especially when a defender give him space. He’ll usually surprise unsuspecting defenses by pulling up for a transition three while the defense is still trying to get set. In a recent game in the RGV, the Vipers had no answer for him as he rattled off 40 points.
Kilpatrick’s name is likely on the lips of most NBA scouts at this point after going for 35 points in his debut showcase game. The 6-4 guard actually plays big for his size and is known for ripping rebounds away much taller players. Of all of the guards on the list, he is probably the most versatile. He has a quick first step that allows him to finish at the rim, and his quick, high release on three-pointers has been good enough for a 43 percent shooting mark. Defensively, he likes to jump into passing lanes to create transition opportunities for his team.
This season, he is averaging 26.9 points, four rebounds and just over one steal per game. With his skill set, I’d be surprised if he isn’t signed to a 10-day contract soon, possibly before the showcase ends.
We’ve written about Jimmer’s success with Westchester this season already. There isn’t much to add to that, but he’s showing that he can be more than a one-dimensional spot-up shooter. In his showcase debut, he finished with 24 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in a loss to the Texas Legends.
He obviously already has NBA experience, so most scouts won’t look at him and see as much of an opportunity for potential or growth as they might with other prospects, but he fits a need, and if a team is looking for a sharpshooter off the bench, he could make it back to the NBA soon.
Roberts is a 6-8 forward with the Raptors 905. Thus far this season, he is averaging just shy of 18 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He’s an athletic blue-collar type of player player who will get his share of 50-50 balls. He’s undersized at power forward but he makes up for it with his activity around the rim, often blocking the shots of players he isn’t guarding. He seems to have a good sense of when to help on defense and getting in the right position. He’s still a bit raw, but with the right coaching, he may have more potential than anyone else on this list.
Johnson has been getting it done for the Austin Spurs for the past two seasons. He possesses enough talent to lead a D-League team, but with the talent that has come through Austin, he has had no problem taking a back seat and finding ways to be effective with fewer minutes and opportunities.
The 6-5 guard is averaging 15.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. His numbers may not jump off the page, but as I said, his playing time has fluctuated.
He’s an above average athlete and seems comfortable shooting from midrange or outside, where he currently leads the league in three-point percentage. In transition, he has a tendency to speed past the defense for outlet passes, and has a knack for getting to the line, and finishing with contact. Johnson has some of the veteran know-how that other prospects lack, and among the players on this list, he is probably most suited to join a team and contribute in spot minutes right away.