Wednesday, March 26, 2008

D-League Delightful

In my ongoing quest to prove that the D-League is not only a viable minor league, but a valuable asset that can be used to find quality players, I've encountered my fair share of resistance. There's a feeling that almost all NBA D-League players are just not up to snuff. Mike Dunleavy especially shares this view, apparently. Tonight there was some positive stuff for my argument, though, in the form of Kasib Powell.

The Heat are terrible.

We know this. They're beyond bad. They're horrible, in ways rarely seen in an NBA team. There's no question about that. So it makes sense that with nothing left to play for and half their team injured, they would turn to the D-League for reserves. They picked up a whole slew of them, including Blake Ahearn, Stephane Lasme, and Kasib Powell.

Now, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel isn't exactly the biggest fan of the D-League, it seems. He likes to crack on the guys. I can understand that. There seems to be a huge drop between the talent levels. I would like to say that the kind of nerves these guys are going through can only be compared to that of rookies. Which a lot of these kids are.

Yes, the Heat lost tonight to the Knicks, which is disgraceful. But there are a lot of problems with this team. Two of them are the words Ricky and Davis. But the question is whether the D-Leaguers can produce at all.

Winderman has some good points. Blake is struggling. Mostly because he's trying to run point, which is exceedingly hard for a guy that's been a pure shooter his entire life. His shooting is off, it's true, but that's typical for D-League guys. Ahearn knows how to shoot. But getting adjusted to the lights, camera, action is a rough spot. That said, if he can't produce to a level the coaches and staff are comfortable with, they should send him back down and let him work some more.

But then, there's Stephane Lasme. That's a guy that's a model for the D-League call-ups. A role player that puts in quality minutes and is able to do a variety of things. His defense was his specialty, but this season he's worked on his offensive game. Tonight he added 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal. That's better than Ben Wallace has a lot of nights.

And then there's Kasib Powell. He was next on my list of interviews for the D-League, and I'm regretting not pushing to get an interview with him before getting called up. After a slow start, Kasib broke out tonight in the loss to the Knicks. 21 minutes, 14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists. Solid. Kasib is the one guy if you'd asked me about all the callups of the last month, who I would pick to stick. 6-7, nice frame, solid offensive game. 27 years old, so he's got a good head on his shoulders. Has experience in the CBA, overseas, and the D-League. Known as a tireless worker. Don't be surprised if Kasib manages to hang around and turns out to be a solid addition.

Also, I'm just going to tell you this now. Kasib has the most awesome website ever created.

Maybe it was just one night. Maybe Winderman's right, and these guys will never see another NBA court again. But eventually, some D-Leaguers are going to start to push through. And that's when the NBA will sit up and notice.

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