Next week in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, representatives from all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance to watch the NBA D-League Showcase, the league’s premier event. It’s a prime chance for players to be noticed and either earn their way back, or book their first ticket to the Association.
Before the event tips off, lets take a look at some of the top prospects, by skill set, who could help your NBA team.
Shooting is more valued than ever, and there’s no shortage of it in the NBA D-League. These prospects have the three-point range to help an NBA team stretch the floor.
Anthony Brown, Wing, Erie Bayhawks – No. 4 on Prospect Watch
Brown was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA D-League Draft, and has already earned a trip to the NBA this season, playing with the Pelicans for about three weeks. In his 12 games with the Bayhawks, Brown has excelled, averaging just under 22 points per game. Along the way he’s proven to be a dangerous weapon from behind the arc, as he’s knocked down 45.6 percent of his attempts, good for fourth in the league — with the potential to contribute in even more ways.
Kevin Murphy, Shooting Guard, Grand Rapids Drive – No. 11 on Prospect Watch
Murphy might have flown under the radar of many fans (and teams) after playing his college ball at Tennessee Tech, but the man can get buckets — especially from three-point range. He’s currently knocking down 40.8 percent of his attempts from behind the arc, which is quite impressive considering he’s one of the most prolific shooters in the league, averaging over eight attempts per night. And at 6-foot-6, he also has the ability to slash to the rim and fill it up from mid-range.
Justin Harper, Foward, Los Angeles D-Fenders – No. 22 on Prospect Watch
Teams looking for a stretch-4 should keep the Richmond, Virginia native on their radar. At 6-foot-10, 225 pounds, Harper has been an elite three-point shooter from the 4-spot for years. Through the first two months of the 2016-17 season, he’s taking over five triples a game and knocking down 42.9 percent of them, a mark that’s good for 12th in the league.
These days, lead guards need the ability to both facilitate and score, especially out of the pick-and-roll. These prospects fit the bill.
Ray McCallum, Point Guard, Grand Rapids Drive – No. 1 on Prospect Watch
McCallum wears No. 2 on the court, but this week he moved up to No. 1 on the Prospect Watch. The reason why? The former King and Spur has been impressive all over the floor, averaging 18.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game while running the show for the Drive. His nearly eight assists are good for third in the league, and he’s shown impressive control of the ball, with a fifth-best 2.64 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Quinn Cook, Guard, Canton Charge – No. 7 on Prospect Watch
After being named the NBA D-League Rookie of the Year last season, Cook earned a training camp invite from the New Orleans Pelicans, but was waived after just three preseason games. Now, back in Canton, Cook has continued to
impress as he looks for a Call-Up to the Association. In addition to his scoring prowess (25.4 ppg), Cook has shown he can run an offense, dishing out 5.4 assists a night, which puts him seventh in the league. He could easily fit into the “floor spacers” category, as well, with the ability to play off the ball and knock down shots from long range (37%).
Josh Magette, Point Guard, Los Angeles D-Fenders – No 24 on Prospect Watch
No, Josh isn’t Corey’s long-lost cousin, but he sure can play. The 6-foot-1 point guard is leading the D-League in both assists (9.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.98!). He also leads the league in assist percentage, assisting on 38.5 percent of his teammate’s field goals. He ranked Top 3 in all three of those categories last season, too. Once an NBA longshot, Magette has played his way onto the radar with his top-notch passing skills and improving jump shot.
While defending the three-point line is a must, so too is having a big man who can serve as the last line of defense — like these three prospects.
Keith Benson, Center, Sioux Falls Skyforce – No. 6 on Prospect Watch
If you’re looking for rim protection, look no further than veteran Keith Benson. The Sioux Falls center has tremendous size at 6-foot-11 and has been putting it to good use this year, sending away a league-best 3.1 shots per game. He’s not only a defensive presence, by the way, as he’s averaging 19.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per night. Benson also comes with a wealth of experience, including years of experience at NBA training camps and with teams overseas, plus a brief stint with the Warriors.
Dakari Johnson, Center, Oklahoma City Blue – No. 8 on Prospect Watch
Once a top high school recruit, Johnson arrived at Kentucky among a wave of NBA lottery picks. He was always viewed as a project to develop down the line, and now that development is coming to fruition in his second season with the Oklahoma City Blue. Johnson has NBA size (7-foot, 255 pounds) and has been making his presence felt all season long in the paint, averaging 17.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for the much-improved Blue.
Edy Tavares, Center, Raptors 905
You won’t find too many players bigger than Walter “Edy” Tavares, the 7-foot-2, 260 pound center out of Cape Verde. He hasn’t been playing basketball for very long, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a big time rim protector for Raptors 905. He’s averaging 2.4 blocks per game, which is second in the league, and altering plenty of others. Though raw, Tavares has a clear role as a shot-blocking specialist, blocking 4.9 shots per 36 minutes in his NBA D-League career.
It’s not enough anymore to just be a defensive or shooting specialist on the wing. These players have the tools to get it done on both ends of the floor.
Jalen Jones, Forward, Maine Red Claws – No. 12 on Prospect Watch
At 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, Jones has the size, length, and athleticism to defend multiple positions, which is always something NBA teams could use. If he can make his outside shot — he was shooting over 33 percent from deep until a recent cold stretch in his last three games — more consistently, he will have plenty of teams interested in his services as a combo forward.
Chris Johnson, Wing, RGV Vipers – No. 18 on Prospect Watch
Johnson has a frame every GM seeks, standing 6-foot-6, with a 6-foot-11 wingspan that allows him to bother shooters and disrupt passing lanes. He’s also shown he can get it done on the other end of the floor, shooting 36.4 percent on three-pointers this season, which is just under his career average of 37.1 percent. With stints with five NBA teams under his belt and plenty of evidence of his skills as an RGV Vipers glue guy, Johnson should remain firmly on the precipice of the Association.
John Holland, Wing, Canton Charge – No. 19 on Prospect Watch
Holland spent the end of last season and the playoffs with the Boston Celtics, but wasn’t able to extend his stay this season. Now with the Canton Charge, he’s looking for a way back to the Association by showing teams he can contribute on both ends. So far this season his quick hands have lead him to swipe an impressive 2.1 steals a night, and he’s shooting just under 34 percent on 7.9 three-point attempts per night. His return has transformed the Charge, who have won seven of nine games since his return.