Although the season is still young, 46 NBA players have already been assigned to the NBA D-League for extended playing time and development. Here are five assignees among them who have made a splash in their time with their D-League affiliate so far.
Malachi Richardson – G, Reno Bighorns (Sacramento Kings)
Stats: 24.3 pts, 5.0 rebs, 1.2 assts, 1.3 stls
In six games, the Kings’ 22nd overall pick this season is averaging a team-high 24.3 points while also knocking down a team-high 45.2% of his shots behind the arc. His scoring average is tied for the fifth highest in the D-League. He’s a natural-born scorer who can rack up buckets in a number of different ways.
Fred VanVleet – G, Raptors 905 (Toronto Raptors)
Stats: 17.6 pts, 5.4 assts, 2.6 rebs, 1.4 stls
VanVleet has split time between the 905 and the Raptors throughout the early part of his rookie season and has seen considerable success when featured for the 905. In five games, he’s averaging a team-high 17.6 points while also dishing out a team-high 5.4 assists. The undrafted Witchita State product is a proven floor general who’s been commanding offenses for years. He may not always dress for the 905, but when he’s present this team has a different feel.
Anthony Bennett – F, Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets)
Stats: 18.0 pts, 8.0 rebs, 2.0 stls, 1.0 blks
Bennett’s name should ring a bell as the 6’8″ forward was the first overall pick in the 2013 draft. After some difficult stints in Cleveland, Minnesota and Toronto, Bennett joined the Brooklyn Nets prior to this season. On November 27, he was assigned to Brooklyn’s newly minted D-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.
Bennett has starred in the two games he’s played in with Long Island thus far. He recorded an impressive 22-point, eight-rebound, five-assist stat line in his debut, and then followed that up with 14 points, eight rebounds, and two assists in his second contest. The success could go give him the necessary confidence to revive his career in the Nets’ organization.
Chinanu Onuaku – C, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets)
Stats: 12.3 pts, 11.4 rebs, 1.4 assts, 1.4 blks
Onuaku has been a double-double waiting to happen since being assigned to the Vipers; his scoring and rebounding averages through his first seven games tell the story. He’s a load to deal with in the paint and although his game is still raw, the innate athletic ability and nose for the basketball are two things you simply cannot teach. Onuaku’s best game to date was a 14-point, 22-rebound outburst in a win over the D-Fenders.
Demetrius Jackson – G, Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics)
Stats: 20.8 pts, 5.8 rebs, 6.6 assts, 1.6 stls
The 45th pick in this year’s draft has translated his success at Notre Dame to the NBA D-League level. With the Red Claws, Jackson has showcased his ability to score off the dribble and make plays for his teammates while still taking care of the ball. He’s part of a contingent of players who’ve used Celtics training camp as a launching pad, leading the 5-2 Red Claws alongside Abdel Nader, Jalen Jones and Damion Lee.