Over the next couple of weeks, The Step Back will examine each of the 22 NBA D-League teams and bring bringing you an in-depth look at their roster as well as any potential storylines to watch for. Teams can retain up to 12 players, while only 10 will be active for games. This is your first look at the prospects to watch out for all season.
Affiliates: Perry Ellis, Rasheed Sulaimon and Mike Tobey
Returners: Ralston Turner, Damien Wilkins, Rodney Williams and Xavier Munford (trade)
Draftees: Mike Anderson and Shonn Miller
Tryouts: Frank Rogers and Prince Williams
Potential NBA Assignees: Aaron Harrison, Christian Wood and Treveon Graham
Veteran presence should help expansion woes
Over the past couple seasons the league has seen an influx of expansion teams. The most successful in recent seasons were the Raptors 905 who went 23-27 last year. Expansion years are usually met with a good amount of losing, mostly due to getting a new franchise off and running.
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The Swarm drafted NBA veteran Damien Wilkins and it turned out to be a genius move as he is back to make a push for a return to the promised land. Wilkins, now 36-years-old, is still very capable of being an impact player. He last played in the NBADL two season ago for the Iowa Energy when he averaged 20.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 46 percent from the field.
Perhaps more important than his production is Wilkins’ professionalism and work ethic. He’s going to help every young player, and each coach, on this team just by his mere presence and willingness to improve. Wilkins probably won’t lead the team in scoring, but he will be an integral part of this team’s success, even if that success is few and far between.
Guard duo with alternate strengths
The 1-2 punch in the Swarm’s back court is going to be difficult for opposing clubs to deal with. Xavier Munford is back for his third season in the D-League after a breakout season last year with Bakersfield led him to an opportunity with the Memphis Grizzlies. Things didn’t pan out and he ended up spending camp with the Los Angeles Clippers and was ultimately waived there as well. Now, he’s back to show his growth as a 6-foot-2, 24-year-old point guard.
Munford is the scoring punch and Rasheed Sulaimon is the defensive rake across the back. Sulaimon is an undrafted rookie out of Maryland who pesters opposing guards in a most annoyingly, efficient manner. At 6-foot-4 he will be able to guard positions 1-3 in the D-League and if he can prove to be a quality scoring option to boot, his value will rise exponentially.
This is one Tobey we can all enjoy
The name “Tobey” is synonymous with an irritating HR representative on one of TV’s most popular sitcoms, but this Tobey will be much more enjoyable. Tobey is a 22-year-old, 7-foot rookie out of the University of Virginia. He wasn’t a key cog in the Cavaliers’ winning season as he played less than 16 minutes a night, but he’s got some real tools.
Tobey is a bull on the offensive glass and the rest of his offensive game is still developing at this point. This summer he showed a bit of a pick-and-pop game along with the ability to be a solid roll man in the same setting. Right now, his value lies in his rebounding ability and his upside as an offensive weapon. We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of his skillset, so it will be important for him to be coachable and willing to work hard to shine. Don’t expect explosive offensive outbursts, but his production should steadily improve as the season goes on.