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: Beau Beech and Egidijus Mockevicius
Returners: Gary Forbes, Carrick Felix, Austin Freeman, Lazar Hayward & Dwayne Polee II
Draftees: Trahson Burrell and Boris Dallo
Tryouts: Donnie McGrath
Potential NBA Assignees: Chris McCullough, Yogi Ferrell and Caris LeVert
Good return on expansion draft
In past seasons, expansion teams looked amazing on paper, however few players ended up returning to the league playing for their new club. This season, after selecting 12 players in the expansion draft, the Long Island Nets will suit up five of their expansion draftees. That’s a stellar return for the executive team and shows they really did their research when deciding who to select.
The top expansion prospect they have is Carrick Felix. He’s a 6-foot-6, 26-year-old wing who was a second round pick back in 2013, but after not playing much in his rookie year he was dealt to the Jazz and subsequently waived. Since that time, he’s endured some tough injuries and now he’s back to rejuvenate his once promising career. Felix is a slasher who really started developing an outside jumper his senior season at Arizona State. Now he will have a chance to reintroduce himself to the NBA community.
The others are Gary Forbes (31), Austin Freeman (27), Lazar Hayward (29) and Dwayne Polee II (24). Hayward and Polee played in the league last season while Forbes and Freeman spent their time overseas. The experience brought in will help the team’s transition in their inaugural year.
The Brooklyn Nets are rebuilding and general manager Sean Marks has made some great strides in his brief time with the franchise. The team is looking at all avenues for talent and they really hit a homerun last season with Sean Kilpatrick, who is playing a pivotal role on their team so far.
Egidijus Mockevicius was in camp with Brooklyn and joins Long Island as one of their affiliate players. Mockevicius is an undrafted rookie out of Evansville who put up monster numbers in college averaging 15.7 points, 14 rebounds and 2.8 blocks as a senior. Now the 6-foot-10, back-to-the-basket style center will attempt to assert his will in the D-League. In a guard dominated setting, Mockevicius should produce well for the Nets. He plays hard, can finish with either hand around the rim and will block shots with his 7-foot wingspan.
Perhaps the most intriguing player on their roster, however, is Boris Dallo. Once thought of as a highly touted prospect, Dallo is still just 22-years-old and looking to gain his foothold on the pro game in the U.S. He’s got all the physical tools at 6-foot-5, with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. His issues has come down to a lack of consistent outside shooting, poor decision making with the ball in his hands and an overall struggle to score. Dallo should get plenty of opportunities to strut his stuff for the Nets, so watch him closely.
Rehab possibility for LeVert
Brooklyn took a bit of a gamble using their 20th overall pick in this year’s draft on Caris LeVert. His talent is not the question, but his inability to stay healthy poses a real issue. LeVert played four seasons at Michigan, yet was only able to play a combined 33 games his last two seasons due to injuries.
When he is on the court, he’s a dynamic wing scorer who possesses the ability to handle the ball like a point guard. Think of him as a 6-foot-7 Shaun Livingston, who can also shoot the 3-pointer. He excels off the ball where he can run off multiple screens and balance himself for a jumper, pump and drive the lane or find an open teammate. His offensive array of skills is really quite defined even at just 22-years-old.
Brooklyn could aim to use Long Island as a rehab opportunity for Caris as he gets closer to regaining his strength and stamina. Playing on assignment can help the rookie learn the team’s schemes, offensively and defensively, while getting acclimated to the pro game and style. Sean Marks took a leap of faith on LeVert and him panning out is essential for the success of their rebuild in Brooklyn.