The NBADL season continues. Now, teams can assign players to their affiliates, allowing them more playing time. It helps keep younger players on track and gives them more playing time than what they were receiving on the highest level. Teams like the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs have used this for several players over the last few seasons, allowing them to develop key aspects of their games before moving into larger roles with the main team.
Here are several players who intrigue me as they make their starts in the D-League. All of them have solid skills, and could be brought up in the future to help their parent teams.
Dejounte Murray – Future starting point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, Murray already racked up a triple-double for San Antonio’s D-League team. He’s a good project loaded with defensive potential. However, he didn’t show much as a shooter or defender in his one season at Washington. This is the perfect place for him to continue his development as a shooter, work on finishing at the basket, and take a step forward as a defender.
Henry Ellenson – An interesting pick when it happened, Ellenson went 18th overall to the Detroit Pistons and his spot seemed muddled. With Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, Jon Leuer, and Boban Marjanovic on the roster, minutes were srcare, so off to the D-League Ellenson went. He’s a big-bodied post player who does most of his damage around the rim. If he can develop into a reliable floor spacer, he’ll be an interesting piece in time.
Malachi Richardson – Coming out of Syracuse, no one saw him as an elite prospect. And yet, Richardson was assured that he’d be a first-rounder, came out, and the Sacramento Kings took him. For his age, he’s still a bit raw. He was inefficient in college but flashed an ability to knock down shots beyond the arc. He’s not a great defender, but has good defensive tools and length to combat both wing positions. So far, Richardson is averaging 24.3 points for Reno, but’s it’s the other things – defense, pick and roll play – that I want to see more of.
Rashard Vaughn – With the Milwaukee Bucks without a D-League team, Vaughn will be assigned to the Westchester Knicks. Vaughn has yet to crack Milwaukee’s rotation for any semblance of minutes, so down he goes for more playing time and development. Coming out of UNLV, Vaughn had the makings of an excellent shooter, knocking down 38 percent of his threes as a freshman. It hasn’t translated yet into pro success, but he’s hitting 36 percent in his first two games with Westchester, so time will tell if he can return to Milwaukee and add a solid shooting presence.
Derrick Jones Jr. – Another UNLV alum. Jones became an interesting prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft, thanks to his high-flying ability and a need for more wing players in the league. Still, it was not enough to warrant a draft selection. Jones is spending the majority of his age-19 season in the D-League, and it’s the best for his development. So far this season, Jones is shooting poorly – 39 percent from the floor, 23 percent from three – but he’s active defensively, he’s a good rebounder for his size and he’s getting as much playing time as he can to improve and hopefully latch onto a roster – One would presume the Phoenix Suns – for the long-term.
Cheick Diallo – I wasn’t a big fan of the pick when it happened, but long-term, Diallo could be the perfect fit alongside Anthony Davis at the center spot. Having played just 27 games at Kansas as a freshman, this is best for both parties, as Diallo gets to improve on all of his skills while getting paid. Diallo’s offense is very “garbage man-like,” but it’s the defense that intrigues me the most. He’s just 6-foot-9, but boasts a 7-4 wingspan, more than enough to alter shots at the rim.
This article originally included Westchester Knicks guard Chasson Randle among the list of assignment players, and has been edited to reflect the error. Still, enjoy Quentin’s report on Randle below.
If it weren’t for an injury in the preseason, Randle would’ve probably made the Knicks roster as the team’s third point guard. He’s not a great shooter and continued to show that in his brief stint in Westchester, shooting 39 percent from the floor and 31 percent from three. The free throw shooting – 93 percent – suggests he can be decent one day. Randle is a small shooting guard who can get to the basket. He’s never been a big creator for others, but the Knicks like his game and I would be shocked if Randle didn’t dress up for New York at some point this season.