NBA D-League call up rankings: Pierre Jackson is back

Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Pierre Jackson (55) congratulates teammates after a time out is called during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Pierre Jackson (55) congratulates teammates after a time out is called during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Almost a quarter of the D-League season is gone and the league possesses players with a multitude of talents currently. There are guys who are defensive stoppers, scoring experts, dead-eye shooters, stretch 4s and almost any other type of player an NBA club might need.

Right now, however each and every NBA roster is full, so opportunities have been few and far between with only five call ups to this point in the year. Don’t let that fact fool you though, because there are numerous capable players chomping at the bit for their shot.

Call up season generally kicks in once 10-day deals are available in the NBA (January 5), so we are still about three weeks away from a busy, busy time in the D-League season. Players who don’t want to wait around for NBA clubs will bolt for paydays overseas around the turn of the calendar as well.

READ MORE: Week 2 D-League call up rankings

Note — NBA draft rights players are not included in the call up rankings as their rights are held by their NBA club. This means only that team can call them up. (Examples – Dakari Johnson & Abdel Nader)

Outside Looking In: Okaro White, Lamar Patterson and Phil Pressey

10. Manny Harris, SG, Texas Legends

Last Week: 9
2016-17 Stats: 25.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.6 steals
38.3 mins, 44.7% FGs, 41.8% 3Ps, 76.9% FTs

Harris is still just 27-years-old and is putting together quite the efficient scoring season to date. He’s always been known as a bit of a gunner, but this season his 3-point percentage is up six percentage points over his career average and he’s leading his team in rebounding from the 2 position. He’s 6-foot-5 and provides microwave-level scoring in any setting.

9. Justin Harper, PF, Los Angeles D-Fenders

Last Week: 8
2016-17 Stats: 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds
29.5 mins, 53.5% FGs, 49.2% 3Ps, 78.9% FTs

Harper continues to fly under the radar somehow. He’s 6-foot-10 and is shooting almost 50 percent (5.4 attempts) from 3-point distance this season. Yes, his team is a run-and-gun offensive powerhouse in this league, but he’s still making all these shots. He earned a cup of tea with the Detroit Pistons last season and don’t be surprised if the spry 27-year-old hears his name called yet again this year.

8. Elijah Millsap, SG, Northern Arizona Suns

Last Week: Unranked
2016-17 Stats: 20.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.3 steals
36.2 mins, 48.4% FGs, 30.6% 3Ps, 70.7% FTs

Earlier this week I was asked about an NBA comparison for Millsap and the person who comes to mind is Dion Waiters, except Millsap plays defense. Millsap was on the Jazz for the better part of the last two seasons and has proven he can be an immediate impact player for an NBA club looking for a scrappy guard off the bench. If the Waiters comp doesn’t work for you, think of him as a more adept scoring P.J. Tucker. He belongs in the league.

7. Ray McCallum, PG, Grand Rapids Drive

Last Week: 6
2016-17 Stats: 21.5 points, 7.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds
38.8 mins, 45.3% FGs, 17.9% 3Ps, 80.3% FTs

Watching McCallum run the offense for Grand Rapids is like listening to jazz. It’s smooth, soothing tones lull you into an almost woken-coma and then ba dum! Eyes open, feet tappin’ and feelin’ good. Ray is just so fluid with the ball in his hands and he’s running the pick-and-roll to perfection for the Drive. His flaw is his outside shooting as represented by his sub-20 percent figure. Even if he gets that number into the low 30s it will serve him well.

6. Cory Jefferson, PF, Austin Spurs

Last Week: Unranked
2016-17 Stats: 14.8 points and 6.9 rebounds
27.5 mins, 53.9% FGs, 52.6% 3Ps, 74.4% FTs

Jefferson started slow for Austin as he was coming off the bench during November. Lately, Coach McDonald has inserted the bouncy 25-year-old into the starting lineup and he’s responded very well. The real plus for Jefferson is his addition of a viable 3-point shot and though he isn’t shooting them with great regularity (1.7 attempts), it’s becoming evident that fact should change. Over the last five games he’s 9-of-13 from deep. The mechanics look great as he has a fluid release and he’s beaming with confidence in that area. Watch out for this once highly-touted prospect.

5. Vander Blue, SG, Los Angeles D-Fenders

Last Week: 4
2016-17 Stats: 21.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists
33.5 mins, 45.3% FGs, 37.0% 3Ps, 80.2% FTs

Blue is just steady Eddie in terms of scoring the basketball, attacking the paint and doing what his team asks of him to get wins. His early boon in the 3-point realm has trickled back down around his career averages, but it’s still greatly improved.

4. Keith Benson, PF/C, Sioux Falls Skyforce

Last Week: 5
2016-17 Stats: 17.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks
32.8 mins, 52.2% FGs, 33.3% 3Ps, 78.3% FTs

Benson is the reigning Performer of the Week in the league after leading Sioux Falls to a 3-1 record last week. He’s playing the best basketball of his career, and is the rare front court option in the D-League who can provide above average offense and defense. He’s second in the league in rebounding and first in blocks and is the anchor for the Skyforce defense.

3. Jalen Jones, SF, Maine Red Claws

Last Week: 3
2016-17 Stats: 21.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists
35.7 mins, 48.8% FGs, 34.9% 3Ps, 79.7% FTs

Jones is on the short list of players who look head and shoulders better than the competition on a nightly basis. He’s a threat from outside at nearly 35 percent and once defenders bite on the pump fake, he has the handle and speed to blow by them and the athleticism to finish at the rim. He’s able to provide stellar on-ball defense for Maine, making him the top two-way 3 in the league.

2. Pierre Jackson, PG, Texas Legends

Last Week: Unranked
2016-17 Stats: 27.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds
35.0 mins, 51.9% FGs, 41.0% 3Ps, 84.1% FTs

Pierre Jackson is a fire cracker. He’s played six games for the Texas Legends and not only is he lighting it up individually, but he’s led the team to a 4-2 mark in those games as well. Scoring has always been Jackson plus skill, but now he’s displaying an ability to utilize the pick-and-roll even more efficiently and even get teammates involved when the opportunity arises. He’s knocking down 3s with regularity and finishing at the rim at a 69 (nice!) percent clip. Right now, he’s simply unguardable.

1. Briante Weber, PG, Sioux Falls Skyforce

Last Week: 1
2016-17 Stats: 13.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 3.0 steals
35.5 mins, 38.2% FGs, 33.3% 3Ps, 75.0% FTs

Weber is a triple-double threat nightly, but even more than that, he affects the game in a multitude of ways. He’s one of the few players who can go scoreless and still have the greatest impact on the game. His tenacious defense is his calling card, but now his rebounding prowess has picked up, he’s got weapons to find on offense and the only thing keeping him from Tim Frazier status from a couple years ago is an unrefined jump shot. Once he finds that, game on.

*All stats from official stats page and are as of 12/13/16