Around the Dime HQ, the weeks after March Madness are all about appreciating the passion of college ball, cheerleaders, Gus Johnson, and NBA projections. Around this time last year, opinions about Dukie DeMarcus Nelson‘s NBA future were mixed. But Nelson is proving doubters wrong now, as he’s tearing up the Development League and looks poised to get back to the big show.
DeMarcus is just one of our Top 10 Hottest Hands in the Development League…
10. Kurt Looby – Besides having one of the best names in the D-League, Looby is also perhaps the best shot blocker around. He’s currently leading the league with 2.4 blocks per night. The former U of Iowa standout has a monstrous wingspan, and is a pretty quick jumper, which enables him to get his hand on a ton of shots. If he’s able to boost his average from 5.7 points per game into double-figures, he could get a roster spot in the NBA.
9. Trey Gilder – An interesting prospect. Gilder isn’t putting up huge numbers, but he’s a key cog in the league-leading Colorado 14ers. He can do a number of things well – score (20 games of 15 points or more), get to the line (nine games with eight or more free throw attempts), and rebound (five double-digit rebound games in March alone). He’ll be eligible for the NBA draft in ’09. Though he still needs to improve his outside shot and add muscle, could he be the next Mike Taylor?
8. Richard Hendrix – At this time last year, Hendrix was outmuscling everyone in college ball, pretty much owning the paint every time he stepped on the floor. This year is no different in the Development League – he’s leading the league with 11.6 boards per night. At 6-9, 255 lbs., Hendrix is a bigger version of Big Baby, and perhaps a better rebounder. If he shows that he can consistently knock down 15 footers, he could end up finding a niche in the NBA similar to Udonis Haslem.
7. Chris Hunter – This 6-11 D-League all-star has recorded 19 double-doubles so far this year. A couple of weeks ago, Hunter gave a glimpse of his potential, thoroughly dominating the Austin Toros for 29 points and 12 boards (9 offensive). He’s done something on that level pretty much once a month all year.
6. Gary Forbes – Forbes is in elite company in UMass history. He and Julius Erving are the only two players to record 1,000 points in two season or less. Now the 6-7 forward is the picture of consistency. He’s good for 18 points and 8 boards pretty much every time he’s on the court. Forbes is the kind of player who gets his no matter what’s going on around him – on the road this year, he’s shooting 50.4% from the floor and a sky-high 47.6% from three.
5. Cedric Bozeman – We mentioned C-Boze in our last Hot Hand List, but he’s actually gotten even hotter since then. Aside from one 17-point game, Bozeman hasn’t finished with less than 22 points in a single outing this month. The rim must look like a hula hoop to him right now – he’s averaging 24.5 ppg in March, and he’s shooting it well from deep right now (50% 3FG in last four games).
4. Derrick Byars – Though he’s cooled off slightly in the last couple of weeks, Byars was so white-hot from three-point range during February it’s surprising that he didn’t get a call-up. During that month, he shot 50% from deep, making 26 treys in nine games (2.8 three’s per game). Even if his three’s haven’t been falling quite as consistently as of late, he’s still finding a way to score and be effective.
3. DeMarcus Nelson – The Golden State Warriors tried to have DeMarcus Nelson run the point at the beginning of the season. But he’s never played the one. He’s a slightly undersized two, who makes up for his height (6-4) with supreme strength and athleticism. Maybe Don Nelson would have been better off letting him play his natural position – just look what he did his last time out: 39 points (5 three’s), 6 boards, 4 assists.
2. Marcus Williams – It’s crazy to say this, but Marcus Williams puts up LeBron-numbers in the D-League. On March 4th, he went for 31 points, 11 boards and 7 assists. On March 10th, he put up 34 points, 10 assists and 8 boards. He was just called up to the Spurs – and he’ll stay there as long as he’s able to protect the rock. It felt like every time he went out in the Development League, he committed at least 4 TO’s. That’s too high.
1. Othyus Jeffers – Simply stupid athletic. Jeffers stands 6-5, 200 lbs., but check out some of his rebounding totals this month: he’s tallied games of 10, 16, 11, 13, 10, and 12 boards. And during that stretch, he’s been super efficient despite taking upwards of 15 shots per night. He’s converting at 50.2% from the floor during the month of March, and scoring 23 points per. So why haven’t you seen him in an NBA jersey just yet? He’s still a bit shaky from three-point range. But if he can work those kinks out, this kid is an NBA-caliber scorer.