D-League Rewind: Knicks and D-Fenders jump out to quick start

Sep 28, 2015; Greenburgh, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward DaJuan Summers (35) during media day at NY Knicks practice facility. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2015; Greenburgh, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward DaJuan Summers (35) during media day at NY Knicks practice facility. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /
Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /

All season long, we are going to bring you a rewind of each week of D-League action at U&M to get you caught up on anything you missed. Seeing as the first full weekend of D-League games is in the books, welcome to the first instalment.

The league is full of former NBA vets, NBA assignees, unknowns and prospects on the cusp of earning those NBA call-ups, so staying abreast of the league is important to any hoops junkie. The No. 2 pick in the D-League Draft has already received a call-up, for example, and K.J. McDaniels wasted no time putting his absurd athleticism on display.

With that in mind, let’s get to it.


Jimmer Fredette called up by the New Orleans Pelicans from the Westchester Knicks (2nd of season)

For comparison, at this time last year there had already been five call-ups


Nick Wiggins via player pool — Raptors 905

Ronald Roberts Jr. as returning player (via trade with Santa Cruz Warriors) — Raptors 905

Jack Cooley as returning player — Idaho Stampede

John Jordan via player pool — Delaware 87ers

Lorenzo Brown as returning player — Grand Rapids Drive

Henry Sims via waivers — Grand Rapids Drive

Justin Harper via waivers — Los Angeles D-Fenders

The Triple-Double Threat is Back!

Darington Hobson joined the Santa Cruz Warriors mid-season last year and helped propel them to the D-League championship. It looked as though he was going to get his shot in the NBA this offseason before a foot injury derailed those plans, so he’s back in the NBADL proving once again that he’s one of the more versatile players available for NBA clubs.

At 6-7 Hobson can run point forward and play off the ball on the wing, providing coach Casey Hill with endless lineup options. The Warriors went 1-1 on opening weekend and Hobson was magnificent with averages of 19 points, 10.5 rebounds and seven assists. He’s also shooting 51.7 percent from the field and a blistering 45.5 from the land of plenty.

As long as Hobson can stay healthy, I think this is the year the former second round pick gets back to The Association.

Jaw-Droppers Abound

Look, I tried to pick one standout play this week, but even with a short week there were plenty of candidates. Ultimately, I had to roll with two plays and once you watch the video below you will understand why.

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Apparently K.J. McDaniels decided that his trip to Rio Grande Valley would involve snatching the soul of Brandon Fields right out of the air. But not to be outdone, J.P. “Air” Tokoto gave us shades of dunk contest Dwight Howard as he went baseline and had NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE.

The Westchester Knicks and Los Angeles D-Fenders arrive on the scene

Last year was a tough year for these clubs. The Knicks were an expansion team and didn’t have much talent to work with, finishing 10-40. The D-Fenders had plenty of talent but forgot their own moniker and played very little defense causing them to finish 17-33.

It’s the first weekend but both teams came out like gangbusters and put up 2-0 records, showing that last year has come and gone and this year they refuse to be doormats of the D-League. Both teams have new coaches with Mike Miller (not that one) in Westchester and Casey Owens in Los Angeles, and they have clearly put their stamp on their teams early on.

The Knicks lost out on Jimmer Fredette before ever playing a game. Not to worry, though, because DaJuan Summers and Travis Trice held down the fort. Summers is averaging 29 points and 10 boards over the first two, including the game-winner in their first game against the Maine Red Claws. Trice is averaging 20 pionts and seven assists and is knocking down 3s at a 57 percent clip.

The D-Fenders have ridiculous talent this season and went 2-0 without perhaps their top prospect in Malcolm Thomas. They were paced by Manny Harris, Vander Blue and Josh Magette. The only thing that can — and likely will — slow this team down will be call-ups because trust me, they are coming.

Actually, Robert Upshaw shooting 3s could slow this team down.

Stories Around the League

I know the first week has come and gone but if you’re late to the dance, check out the season previews up at Ridiculous Upside. They do a marvelous job covering the league.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today caught up with D-League President Malcolm Turner to discuss the growth of the league and ultimately where it’s heading.

Adam Johnson over at D-League Digest talked to Xavier Henry about his injury woes and his decision to take the D-League route for his pending comeback.

The crew with At The Hive of SB Nation gave us a glimpse into the names the Charlotte Hornets are considering for their new D-League affiliate that will be located in Greensboro starting next season.

Ian Begley of ESPN put together a stellar Q&A with current New York Knicks guard Langston Galloway. He was also the first call up in Westchester Knicks history last season and he hasn’t forgotten where he started.

One Big Thing — It’s Bruno!

The Raptors 905 did not get off to the storybook beginning I’m sure they had hoped for. The first game they lost to the magic of a Xavier Thames pull-up, fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer and in the second matchup they looked a little overwhelmed by the Mad Ants’ pressure. They were missing two key players as Alex Toupane had some visa issues he was working out and Ronald Roberts Jr. was out with a sore ankle, so those two guys will help immensely when they return.

My takeaway from watching them, however, is that Bruno Caboclo is here to stay and I love every second of it. He looked like a kid (yeah, he’s still only 20-years-old) playing in his backyard on a brand new hoop. The vigor he embodied last weekend was a thing to behold and I hope to see with the 905 for 40 games or more because, let’s be honest, he needs that. The Raptors organization clearly believes in the development of players like Caboclo and Nogueira and that’s why we saw them move so swiftly to start their own affiliate.

Yes, Bruno averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds over their first two games, but those are not the things the Raptors brass are focusing on. I guarantee it. Do they want to see confidence which in turn will produce results? Of course. More importantly, though: Is he understanding the schemes, can he make quality defensive reads and is he in the right place in their offensive sets? He still looked a bit like a lost puppy from time-to-time, but that’s to be expected seeing as he’s still extremely raw. But he’s already played more minutes than all of last season in the D-League and he’s taken (and made) more field goal attempts.

Though the 905 didn’t win either of their games, the Raptors have to be pleased with what they’ve seen from Bruno thus far.