Starting January 5th, NBA teams can sign free agents to 10-day contracts. And while there’s nothing that demands those 10-day contract signees need come from the NBA D-League, it logically follows that it’s a good place to start looking. Whether a team is struggling and looking for new blood, or just looking for injury cover, the seamless call-up system allows them to plunder the D-League for reinforcements for a week and a half, as an extended midseason tryout. Here’s a list of the top call-up candidates, in no order other than when they were thought of.
Courtney Fortson – 18.8ppg, 6.2 apg, 5.5 rpg: Fortson’s decision to declare early for the draft looked especially ridiculous after he wasn’t able to progress beyond the Romanian league in his first season. Since then, however, he’s turned his career around and managed a few NBA looks. Fortson’s speed, aggression and handle haven’t changed, and now come with a much improved jumpshot and better decision making. But he’s still not a proven halfcourt point guard, and he’s still only 5-foot-11.
Justin Dentmon – 19.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 5.0 rpg: Unashamedly a scorer as well, Dentmon is the leading scorer on the D-League’s second-highest scoring team. He too cracked the NBA on multiple occasions last season, on account of the quality of his jumpshot (432 from three in his D-League career) and his ability to create them. To stick in the league in any more than a peripheral role, though, he’ll need to be as lucky as Eddie House.
Walker Russell – 14.2 ppg, 5.5 apg, 3.9 rpg: Russell played his way from D-League benches to the NBA within five years, a working demonstration of the league’s developmental qualities. The purest point on this list, Russell played almost all of last season with the Pistons, but struggled at the NBA level. He is unspectacular, unathletic and undersized, without three-point range on his shot and now with 30 years on the clock. But his knack for finding open players and controlling the offense puts him ahead of the rest, should those be the desired qualities.
Chris Quinn – 18.0 ppg, 7.0 apg, 3.0 spg: Knocking on 30′s door, Quinn has returned to the D-League to play two games, after beginning the season in Spain. This is possibly his last chance to make the NBA, and even if he can’t defend his position, he can certainly contribute as both a playmaker and shooter.
Ben Uzoh – 16.1ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.9 rpg: The most athletic player listed, Uzoh thrives in transition, and has the size to project as a quality defense player. However, he isn’t at this point, and as he’s not a pure point and is a sub-par shooter, his usefulness in the halfcourt is limited.
Chris Wright – 16.3 ppg, 7.7 apg, 5.5 rpg: Reports last year that Wright’s career was in jeopardy after a diagnosis of MS were clearly premature, as Wright is performing to a high standard. His all-around game is very solid, and although he still lacks for consistent three-point range, his game management and pick-and-roll abilities stand him in good stead.
Troy Hudson – 11.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 2.8 rpg: Hudson’s comeback started well with some good shooting performances. However, it soon tapered off, and by this time, he is a fairly average soon-to-be-37 year old D-Leaguer. The speed has gone, as has the hair.
Orien Greene – 15.9 ppg, 2.5 apg, 4.1 rpg: Former Celtic Greene is mostly playing two guard alongide Fortson. In the process, he is proving that he can still defend both spots. He’s also improved his jumpshot over the years, and is shooting 40 percent from three on the season.
Stefon Hannah – 14.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4.3 rpg: Perennial nearly-man Hannah is slowly becoming more and more of a three-point shooter offensively, taking eight of them a game and hitting 41 percent last season. He’s also the reigning D-League Defensive Player of the Year; however, neither big nor quick, it’s unclear as to how well this effort may translate.