Prospect Watch

November 1, 2014

Each week, compiles the Prospect Watch, our list of the top 30 Prospects* currently in the NBA D-League. Our rankings are based on the combination of upside and experience, potential and production that NBA teams look for in a GATORADE Call-Up.

The rankings are compiled by the editors at each Tuesday with input from scouts and coaches around the league.

(*Prospects include only players who are eligible to be called up to the NBA. Players entering the league who are NBA Draft-eligible, such as PJ Hairston in 2013-14, are not considered for Prospect Watch. Through the Draft Rights Player rule, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Semaj Christon and Josh Huestis can only be called up by the team that drafted them.)


1. Seth Curry, G, Erie BayHawks
Got better as his rookie year went along and shined during Summer League. Has complete offensive arsenal but defense, athleticism remain question marks.
This week: Appears to have reached a comfort zone at the D-League level that makes him one of the league’s top offensive threats. Scored 49 points in two games while playing off the ball more.

2. Earl Clark, F, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Proven NBA player who’s still just 26. Potential reclamation project a la James Johnson and Shawne Williams. RGV is perfect place for him to develop missing piece (consistent 3PT shot).
This week: Clark wasn’t efficient in posting 51 points in his first two games, but his talent and versatility on both ends will make him a force during his likely short stint with the Vipers.

3. Elliot Williams, G, Santa Cruz Warriors
Elite-level athlete with supreme leaping ability. Needs to refine outside shot to open up rest of offense. Potential defensive-minded combo guard off the bench.
This week: Came out of the gates slow while still adjusting to new environment. But the fact that he fit into a loaded Santa Cruz team rather than forcing the issue was a plus.

4. Manny Harris, G, Los Angeles D-Fenders
Prolific scorer at NBA D-League level (31.8 ppg last season). Inconsistent outside shooter. Needs to focus on being role player rather than scorer first.
This week: Picked up where he left off last season. Of the league’s elite prospects, he’s the most ready to contribute right now, alongside Clark.

5. Erik Murphy, F, Austin Spurs
Should establish himself quickly because of defined role as stretch-4. Often compared to fellow Florida alum Matt Bonner. Needs to show he can handle bigs inside and hang athletically.
This week: Showed off his outside touch in posting an efficient 31 points in two games.

6. Carrick Felix, G/F, Santa Cruz Warriors
Rose up draft boards in 2013 but rookie season was plagued by injury. Good athlete who will make his mark on the defensive end. Has one of highest ceilings among prospects.
This week: Still rough around the edges, Felix needs to shoot better than 1-for-9 from deep to make a move up.


7. Marquis Teague, G, Oklahoma City Blue
Former prized Kentucky recruit who has struggled early in career. Classic case of a player needing a fresh start at minor-league level; still just 21.
This week: Struggled for much of his first two games before coming alive in the fourth quarter on Sunday, scoring eight straight Blue points during one stretch.

8. Kevin Murphy, G, Idaho Stampede
Top-notch, efficient scorer at NBA D-League level (25.5 ppg). Finishes in the paint despite slender frame that hurts him defensively. Must become more well-rounded.
This week: Off to a slow, uncharacteristically inefficient start. Faces difficult adjustment as Idaho’s only returning starter on a team with a new head coach.

9. Diante Garrett, G, Iowa Energy
Smooth, unselfish floor general with strong defensive potential. Full season of experience as NBA backup. Must become more of a scoring threat to stick at next level.
This week: Took a backseat while wings carried the load. Continues to do everything but score: 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 turnover, 4 steals on Saturday.

10. Doron Lamb, G, Texas Legends
Just 23 and accustomed to being role player. Elite shooter — 39% from three at NBA level — who has struggled to find shots elsewhere. Needs to improve off-the-dribble game.
This week: Fantastic start offensively, with 44 points on 14-for-22, but got into foul trouble. Lamb is being given added ball-handling duties, so his 11 assists to just 3 turnovers were a great sign.

11. Semaj Christon, G, Oklahoma City Blue
55th overall pick of the Thunder. Highly productive in college. Attacking combo guard who needs to cut down on turnovers. High ceiling if he can develop as a PG.
This week: Spectacular debut as he scored with ease against a good Maine backcourt. Shot just 5-for-17 for 10 points two days later.

12. Peyton Siva, G, Erie BayHawks
Decorated college player who got little opportunity as a rookie. Defensive ball-hawk who can energize a second unit. May struggle to transition offensively to NBA due to size.
This week: Was a playmaker on both ends — the Stampede couldn’t keep him out of the paint. Still limited as a scorer but posted 8 rebounds, 15 assists, 4 steals on Sunday.

13. Lorenzo Brown, G, Grand Rapids Drive
True point guard with great size who has gotten several looks with NBA teams. Shaping up to be a solid backup if he can become more of a scoring threat, keep improving jumper.
This week: Underwhelming first two games with 11 turnovers to 9 assists. In a guards’ league, pressure to produce is always on.

14. Josh Huestis, F, Oklahoma City Blue
29th overall pick of the Thunder. Potential glue guy who can guard multiple positions. Can benefit from playing larger role on D-League affiliate and expanding offensive game.
This week: Had a quiet start as he adjusts to the next level. Rebounded well and hit 3 three-pointers.

15. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, F, Westchester Knicks
51st overall pick of the Knicks. NBA-caliber athlete. Tenacious defender with nonstop motor who can be overaggressive. Raw offensively, though jumper improved with experience.
This week: Numbers to watch will be his three-point percentage and foul rate; made 1-of-3 from deep and posted 2 steals, 2 fouls in 24 minutes.

16. Hasheem Thabeet, C, Grand Rapids Drive
27-year-old looking to reignite career. Simply needs consistent playing time (reps) to improve skill set. At the very least is a proven shot-blocker/glass-crasher.
This week: Struggled outside of easy buckets after Drive broke Reno’s press. Still has a lot to prove.

17. James Michael McAdoo, F, Santa Cruz Warriors
Tantalizing potential but underwhelmed in college. Has physical tools of NBA 4-man. Should thrive in an uptempo system — efficiency will be key.
This week: So far, so good. Playing heavy minutes as small-ball center, McAdoo shined on both ends, putting up 44 points — including 16-of-21 from the foul line — 18 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals and 6 blocks in two games.

18. Kalin Lucas, G, Iowa Energy
Former Michigan State star who suffered a devastating Achilles tear during junior year. Has returned to form, but broke hand while he was gaining momentum with Energy last season. Heady, reliable player, yet on small side and not quite a shooter from NBA three-point range.
This week: Returned from Call-Up to Grizzlies to post 32 points, followed by a 4-for-18 clunker.

19. Malcolm Lee, G, Delaware 87ers
Former prized prospect still trying to reach potential. Tweener between guard positions. Elite perimeter defender who needs to find identity on the other end.
This week: Focused almost solely on facilitating, going 1-for-7, but showcased ability to play point full-time.

20. Vander Blue, G, Los Angeles D-Fenders
Needs stability after playing for eight different teams as a rookie. Explosive first step but still inconsistent from outside. Perimeter defense will be his calling card.
This week: Posted 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals in first game. Will take time to learn role on a team loaded with scorers.

21. Adonis Thomas, F, Grand Rapids Drive
Broke out in D-League last season but still lacks a true position. Made huge strides with jumper; next step is tightening ball-handling in order to be an NBA wing. Has NBA body and athleticism.
This week: Couldn’t find shot against Bakersfield, then went for 30 in a shootout with Reno.

22. Bryce Cotton, G, Austin Spurs
Led the Big East in scoring and assists per game as a senior. Undersized at NBA level. Should be a top D-League scorer, but learning how to run pro team is No. 1 priority.
This week: Found a groove in second half of a back-t0-back against RGV and got into the paint for 11 of his 18 field goals.

23. Bernard James, C, Texas Legends
Productive while on court (10.3 REB, 2.7 BLK per 36) but rarely on court. Should overwhelm competition physically. Less mileage than normal 29-year-old after late start to career.
This week: Showed that he’s in shape and ready to contribute in a pinch. Benefits from younger competition needing time to develop.

24. Brady Heslip, G, Reno Bighorns
Dead-eye shooting specialist who most impressively combined volume with efficiency in college. Nearly made Timberwolves’ roster. Will thrive in D-League’s wide-open pace, especially in Reno’s system, but role on defense in NBA is unclear and 6-1 shooting guards are rare.
This week: Exploded for 78 points, including 20 threes, in a combined 54 minutes. How will he adjust to inevitable opponents’ adjustments?

25. Khem Birch, F/C, Sioux Falls Skyforce
Potential defensive ace protecting rim and guarding pick-and-roll. Rebounding should translate. Slight build with limited offensive game; needs to work on pick-and-pop.
This week: As expected, rebounded and defended immediately — 11 boards, 2 steals, 3 blocks — in 77-70 win, but has a ways to go offensively.

26. CJ Fair, F, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Great athlete and improving shooter. Making difficult transition from combo forward into full-time wing. Needs to become more efficient scorer and showcase defensive potential.
This week: 24 points on 11-for-36 was not the start he wanted. Made some nice moves but needs to finish inside and earn free throws while he adjusts to three-point line.

27. Sean Kilpatrick, G, Santa Cruz Warriors
Big-time collegiate scorer, but was old for class. Strong with a bulldog mentality. Strong Summer League; could get picked up quickly if he finds consistency from NBA three.
This week: Still getting back to full strength after August knee surgery. Attacked the hoop — 7-for-7 in restricted area — while going 1-for-9 from deep.

28. Hassan Whiteside, C, Iowa Energy
Massive 6-11 frame with 7-7 wingspan. Averaged 5.4 blocks during lone season at Marshall; entered NBA Draft while still raw. With rim protection at a premium and few NBA-caliber bigs in D-League, an attractive commodity at just 25.
This week: Destroyed undersized Reno team with 30 points, 22 rebounds, 8 blocks. Solid against Warriors but foul trouble — 10 in 57 total minutes — was an issue.


29. Earl Barron, C, Bakersfield Jam
Rebounder who has been around the block (124 NBA games). 33 years old but top option if team needs immediate help inside. Limited offensively.
This week: Plagued by foul trouble, but simply needs to stay in game shape while waiting for NBA call. Three-point range — 3-for-6 in two games — was pleasant surprise.

30. Ronald Roberts, F, Delaware 87ers
Monster athlete who turned heads during Summer League. As energetic PF, should thrive in fast-paced, small-ball style. Undersized and raw offensively.
This week: Came as advertised, using energy and athleticism to post 17 points and 19 boards in triple-OT win; still could benefit from showcasing offense beyond catch-and-finish and putbacks.

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