In the past few weeks, NBA teams have been reaching into the D-League pool incessantly. Since our last D-League Hot Hand post on Jan. 11, there have been four more D-League call ups: Mario West (Hawks), Anthony Tolliver (Warriors), JamesOn Curry (Clippers) and Cedric Jackson (Cavs). The total of D-Leaguers called up in the 2009-10 season is now up to nine.
On top of guys earning 10 day contracts, several former D-League players have been making some noise. Sundiata Gaines hit a game winner against the Cavs a couple of weeks ago and has recently been signed for the rest of the season. With NBA players getting injured left and right, expect more and more D-Leaguers to get promoted in the coming weeks. Here are five players we think will be next.
1. Mike Harris, F, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rice) - 27.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 59% fg, 32% 3p
As you recall, Harris was the third D-League call-up of the ’09-10 season back on Dec. 23. He played only 2 games with the Rockets before being released on Jan. 6. Since he’s rejoined the Vipers, Harris has been averaging 29.6 ppg and 11.5 rpg, including a ridiculous 48 point, 24 rebound outing against Dakota on Jan. 17. The Vipers have also been 6-2 since he’s returned and they own the best record (17-6) in the West. If an NBA team is looking for a prolific scorer who can rebound, then they should get Harris on that first flight out of Hidalgo, Texas.
2. Coby Karl, F, Idaho Stampede (Boise State) – 28.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 48.6% fg
Ever since Karl joined the Stampede almost two weeks ago, he has been racking up points like he was back in high school. The former Cleveland Cavalier scored 36 points on two straight occasions and registered 28 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals against the Thunderbirds on Saturday. He is also getting to the line nearly 10 times per contest. On the flip side, his team is only 1-3 since his arrival and he is shooting just 32.4 percent from beyond-the-arc. If he can improve on those, there’s no reason why Geroge Karl’s son shouldn’t be back in the big leagues. There has already been speculation that the Cavs might bring him back on a 10-day after losing Mo Williams for a month due to a shoulder injury.
3. Carlos Powell, F, Albuquerque Thunderbirds (South Carolina) – 22.1 ppg, 5 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.9 spg
It’s mind-boggling that Powell hasn’t got called up yet. He’s proven he can put the ball in the basket by scoring in double figures in every game this season. He is pretty consistent and does a lot of things well. Against Bakersfield on Jan. 22, Powell recorded 25 points and 6 assists. What is probably keeping the left handed forward out of the league is his three-point shot. Going to the next level as a small forward, you have to shoot better than the 26 percent from the three-point line that he’s shooting now. He should also rebound a little more considering his size (6-7, 225 pounds).
4. Will Conroy, G, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Washington) - 14.3 ppg, 8.4 apg, 49% fg, 37% 3p
When the Hawks visited the Garden a few months ago, Jamal Crawford told me that Will Conroy was the best player from Seattle not in the NBA. Conroy has earned a few 10-day contracts in the past, but hasn’t stuck. He might get another chance at the league considering he’s having a solid season so far. Right before the new year, he joined the Vipers and the team has been 8-3 with the former Washington Husky on their team. Last week against the Erie BayHawks, Conroy put up 19 points and 11 dimes.
5. Dwayne Jones, C, Austin Toros (St. Joseph’s) - 17.7 ppg, 15 rpg, 2 bpg, 46% fg
There are a lot of other guard and forward prospects that could get called up like Morris Almond, Curtis Stinson and Reggie Williams. But the best center prospect hands down would have to be Dwayne Jones. As we’ve mentioned our first D-League Hot Hand list, Jones is a player that has improved greatly over the years. He can rebound and he’s aggressive in the paint. Last week against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Jones put up 20 points and 23 rebounds. He’s also been playing over 40 ppg, so he’s conditioned and physically ready to make the adjustment to the next level.
Who do you guys think will be the next D-League player to get called up?