After former Oregon star Malik Hairston was called up by the Spurs from the Austin Toros last week, it got us thinking: who will be next? Below is a list of the Top 11 (we couldn’t settle on just 10) NBA Development League prospects who deserve to have their cell phone number in the hands of NBA GMs.
1. Courtney Sims, C, Iowa Energy (Michigan) â€“ 22.9 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 59% fg
At 6-foot-11, 230 pounds, we’re surprised Courtney Sims isn’t already currently on an NBA roster. Having played briefly for the Pacers during the 2007-08 season and for the Hornets during this preseason, Sims can fill it up on both ends of the floor. In a win on last Sunday, Sims registered 36 points (13-18 from the floor, 10-11 from the line), 16 rebounds and three blocks, only to be topped by a triple-double earlier this season with 22 points (5-10 from the floor, 12-14 from the line), 17 rebounds and 11 blocks.
2. Will Conroy, G, Albuquerque Thunderbirds (Washington) â€“ 24.8 ppg, 7.8 apg, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 spg
As the all-time assists leader in Washington Huskies history, you’d think Will Conroy would get a shot to join his former teammates Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson in the League. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Conroy has the size needed to handle point responsibilities for an NBA squad, and has continued to fill up the box score in all categories in the D-League this season, including a 26 point, 10 assist and five rebound effort on Friday.
3. Marcus Williams, F, Austin Toros (Arizona) â€“ 20.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.1 apg
Not that Marcus Williams. The former 33rd pick by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Draft, is an athletic 6-foot-7, 205-pound bundle of energy. The Bobcats signed him in September only to be release him after a brief stay, but Williams seems like he would be a perfect fit for a struggling Bobcats team. In his last game, he managed 14 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists.
4. James Mays, F, Colorado 14ers (Clemson) â€“ 19.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.0 spg
At 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, James Mays is a truck in the early Robert “Tractor” Traylor mode. With a solid stat line across the board (16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and a steal last Sunday), Mays could contribute in the League a la Carl Landry or Big Baby Davis if given the chance.
5. Smush Parker, G, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Fordham) â€“ 17.9 ppg, 7.8 apg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 spg
After playing for six NBA teams, starting all 82 games for the 2005-06 Lakers, Smush Parker was able to earn a spot on the Nuggets preseason roster this year. No matter where he’s lacing them up, the 6-foot-3, 190 pound guard can play. Just check out his 30-point, 12-assist, five-rebound, five-steal game from earlier this season and his 19-point, 13-assist, three-rebound, three-steal game from Friday. With six games netting double digit dimes, Parker’s unselfish play deserves a look.
6. Walker Russell Jr., PG, Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Jacksonville State) â€“ 17.0 ppg, 10.9 apg, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 spg
You may have never heard of Walker Russell Jr. until his name surfaced two weeks ago as a candidate for the Suns’ open roster spot. But after leading the D-League in assists, the 6-foot, 170-pound point guard has made it on to the NBA radar. As would anyone that can drop 20 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds and six steals in a game like he did on Tuesday, and 16 points, 20 dimes, six boards and two steals in a game earlier this month.
7. Antonio Meeking, F, Reno Bighorns (Louisiana Tech) â€“ 20.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg
Hailing from Louisiana Tech, we’ve dubbed Antonio Meeking “The Next Paul Millsap” with double-double potential every night. After a brief stint on the Bobcats, Meeking has played in Denmark, Italy and the D-League, and at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds has the ability to bang in the post in the NBA on a regular basis.
8. Jermareo Davidson, F/C, Idaho Stampede (Alabama) â€“ 16.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 52% fg
Jermareo Davidson was selected by the Warriors with the 36th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, but was traded the same day as part of a deal that sent him and Jason Richardson to the Bobcats in exchange for Brandan Wright. From there, Davidson signed a two-year deal with Charlotte in July, only to be released by the Bobcats in October. Having come so close to playing in the League, the 6-foot-10, 230 pound forward/center is doing everything he can to get back to the big show.
9. Chris Hunter, F/C, Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Michigan) â€“ 16.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 53% fg
Much like Courtney Sims and Jermareo Davidson, Chris Hunter has size that intrigues NBA GMs. At 6-foot-11, 240 pounds, Hunter is an efficient double-double machine that has a presence on both the offensive and defensive end. In his last game on Saturday, Hunter registered 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, along with nine rebounds.
10. Joe Crawford, G, Los Angeles D-Fenders (Kentucky) â€“ 20.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.9 apg
After being selected as the 58th pick by the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Draft, Joe Crawford (pictured above) signed with Los Angeles in August, only to be waived in October during the preseason. Nonetheless, the Lakers D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, picked him up and Crawford has been proving why he deserves a look as the Lakers’ 15th guy. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Crawford’s biggest asset is his consistency and the ability to score the ball.
11. Curtis Stinson, G, Iowa Energy (Iowa State) â€“ 14.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 7.5 apg
Having played on several different NBA summer league teams through the years, Curtis Stinson is a guy we had to include on this list. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Stinson surprises a lot of people when they watch him play with his Jason Kidd-like ability to always be a triple-double threat. For example, on December 19 he had 22 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and four steals and dropped 12 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and four steals in his last game on Saturday.