Now that James White (of legitimate free-throw line dunk contest fame) has taken the big leap from the D-League to the Houston Rockets, we’re on the lookout for the next D-Leaguer bound for the League.
Check out these 10 guys who have been killing it as of late.
10. Jared Jordan – Everybody’s favorite Marist guard, Jared Jordan led the nation in assists in college, just under 9 per night. It seemed as though his dream of playing in the NBA was fading at the beginning of this season, when he finished December averaging 4.8 points and 4.2 assists. But he’s come on incredibly strong as of late, proving to be one of the best passers in the D-League. Check this: the last eight games in which he’s played more than 25 minutes, he’s put up 14.7 points and 13.1 assists per game. Kid can pass.
9. Joe Crawford – The Lakers don’t really need a killer scorer to round out their roster right now. But with the L.A. D-Fenders’ Crawford, they’ve got a tremendously efficient guard in their “farm” system. Over the last month, JC has converted at a drop under 55% from the field (90-164), and he’s 33-36 from the line. He’s making the most of every touch.
8. Cedric Bozeman – In his last three games, Boze has come within a hair of a triple-double on two occasions. In late February, he put 15, 10 (boards) and 8 (assists) on Reno in a win, and again last night against Fort Worth, he went for 22 points, 16 boards and 8 dimes. If his three-point shooting improves, he could come into the League as a better scoring version of Mardy Collins.
7. Marcus Williams – Talk about a hot streak – Marcus Williams has been in a zone since we debuted the Hot Hand list a ways back. He’s been on a rampage through February, scoring 30 points or more in five of his last ten games, matching Blake Ahearn‘s 26.6-point per game average during that stretch. Williams still takes too many risks with the ball – as a shooter and a passer. Though he’ll tally 8 assists, he might turn the ball over 9 times during a single outing.
6. Chris Hunter – At 6-11, 240 lbs., Chris Hunter is an ox. He does a great job using his body to get to the stripe, and unlike most big men, he makes the most of those trips. Last night, he went 14-14 from the line on his way to 32 points (and 8 boards).
5. Derrick Byars – The former SEC Player of the Year (out of Vanderbilt) has been filling it up recently – not just as a scorer. Though he’s posting 22.8 points over his last ten games on 53.7% shooting from the floor, he’s also improving as a rebounder and a passer. He’s improved his work on the glass, tallying 4.9 boards and 3.3 assists, which are both better numbers than he’s put up over the course of the season. You can’t pigeon-hole this guy as a straight shooter anymore.
4. Blake Ahearn – When this dude has it going, he hemorrhages buckets. Over his last nine games, he’s posting 26.6 points per night, highlighted by two 32-point outings and a memorable 41-point drubbing of Bakersfield, in which he went 15-23 from the field. Ahearn was the first D-League call-up of the year, and if the Spurs need someone who can flat-out shoot, they’ll call him back.
3. Will Conroy – No one deserves a shot at the big-time more than Conroy. Though he’s cooled slightly in the last week or so, Conroy ran off one of the craziest four-game stretches in early February, hanging 30-plus on four consecutive nights. But even when his shot isn’t dropping, he’s still filling up the stat sheet: Conroy is averaging 7.4 assists over his last eight games to go with a 25.8-point per game average over the season. Those sound like LeBron numbers.
2. Jasper Johnson – This 6-8 hulking big lefty just locked up D-League Player of the Month honors after destroying the competition at a 26.2 points per game over his last eleven contests. The Delta State product went bananas at Tulsa in one of the year’s best duels, getting the better of the 66ers’ Ryan Humphrey. Listen to these stat lines: Humphrey went for 42 points, 11 boards and 3 assists. But he was outplayed by Johnson’s 42 points, 19 boards, and 2 blocks. For good measure, Johnson even threw a three-pointer in there.
1. Jawad Williams – The former Tar Heel hasn’t been in Rio Grande Valley too long, but he’s been an absolute animal ever since he showed up on February 18th. In his first time on the floor, Jawad dropped 43 points (15-30 FG) on Anaheim. Williams has improved in exactly the area that he was criticized for in college: three-point shooting. He’s averaging almost 3.5 three’s per night, shooting them at 47.4%. If he continues at this pace, he could be one of the best three-point shooters in the D-League.