By Brian Kotloff, NBADLeague.com
The Prospect Watch is NBADLeague.com’s ranking of the Top 30 Prospects — players eligible to be called up to the NBA — in the NBA D-League. Click here to view this week’s rankings.
With All-Star Weekend on the horizon, we’ve reached another checkpoint in the 2014-15 season. And the stock watch looks good for this year’s prospect pool, which seems to make an impact at the next level every night, from Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson in Miami to Elijah Millsap in Utah.
Twenty-five different players have received a total of 31 GATORADE Call-Ups this season, compared to 16 players and 17 Call-Ups at this point last season. The remaining core — led by wing Jordan Hamilton, big man Willie Reed and point guard Seth Curry — won’t get much of a break from the grind, with just three scheduled league-wide off days.
RISING FAST: No. 12 Larry Drew, G, Sioux Falls Skyforce
Drew described the dog-eat-dog world of the NBA D-League perfectly when, upon his arrival to the Sixers, he said, “Sometimes, [the D-League] is like crabs in a bucket: guys trying to crawl over each other just to get to the top.”
Unfortunately, he saw the flip side of that when Philly continued its 10-day contract carousel by letting him go and bringing in fellow point guard Tim Frazier. Yet those 20 days in the big league could do wonders for Drew’s future, as he proved he belonged on an NBA court, earning an “A-plus” grade from Sixers head coach Brett Brown.
TOP PERFORMANCE: No. 21 Gary Talton vs. Iowa Energy
Take your pick of which was the bigger performance on the best weekend of Talton’s young career: The 17 points and 16 assists on Friday night that helped Fort Wayne cruise to its 11th win in 13 games, or the 30 points in Saturday’s epic comeback, when the Mad Ants entered the fourth quarter down 24 yet emerged victorious thanks in large part to Talton’s hot hand.
For the University of Illinois-Chicago product’s rising NBA stock, two notes stand out: Five guards with NBA experience — Seth Curry, Peyton Siva, Diante Garrett, Kalin Lucas and Russ Smith — lined up across from him this weekend, and Talton outplayed them all; and after an 8-for-13 weekend, he’s now shooting 42% from three compared to 29% in college.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
There’s a reason they say that the D-League is just a step away from the NBA.
Rookie Tim Frazier experienced that first-hand over the weekend, when he went from Maine Red Claws to Philadelphia 76ers point guard overnight. Thrust into heavy minutes with Michael Carter-Williams sidelined, the D-League All-Star held his own, dishing out 26 assists in three games and earning praise from NBA All-Star Stephen Curry.
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: Sean Kilpatrick, G, Delaware 87ers
The D-League Sean Kilpatrick is finally starting to look like the Cincinnati Sean Kilpatrick.
All it took was a change of scenery back to his East Coast roots, and now the 2014 first-team All-American has rediscovered his shooting stroke and his attack mentality on the offensive end.
If he finds consistency from long range, Kilpatrick should make his way into the Call-Up conversation.
Others Knocking on the Door: Renaldo Balkman (Texas), Jack Cooley (Idaho), Erik Murphy (Austin), Marquis Teague (Oklahoma City), Damien Wilkins (Iowa)