NBA

Surprise studs at the D-League Showcase

The NBA D-League Showcase finished up Sunday afternoon after 22 games (14 of which were nationally televised) in Mississauga, Ontario. There were stunning performances, like Will Bynum’s 43-point outburst in the opening game, and the usual characters ended up putting on a show.

The league announced their All-Showcase teams Sunday evening and rather than play the copycat game The Step Back wanted to shine a light on guys who really stepped up for their respective teams this week.

Remember many of these players are not only auditioning for possible NBA deals, but even more are trying to secure NBA summer league invites or offers from international clubs when the offseason arrives. Scouts show up knowing the players they want to focus on, but when players unexpectedly play well, they can really stand out.

READ MORE: D-League Showcase — Day 4 Recap

C.J. Williams — Shooting Guard — Texas Legends

Williams is an NC State grad who at 26-years-old has played in Cyprus, Italy and France before staying stateside in the D-League this year. He played with the San Antonio Spurs during summer league and played well enough to earn a training camp invite from the Dallas Mavericks. Now he’s on the run-and-gun squad with coach Bob MacKinnon and has been a solid rotational contributor all season.

In 22 games leading up to the Showcase he averaged 11.2 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting nearly 41 percent (5.2 attempts per game) from 3. The Legends recently lost Pierre Jackson, Quincy Acy and Gary Neal to NBA call ups, so opportunity came knockin’ for the 6-foot-5 wing. During the two games at the Showcase he averaged 26 points and three rebounds while hitting 9-of-17 from downtown. Unfortunately, the Legends ended up going 0-2 for the event but Williams certainly made his case for a larger role in their high octane offense moving forward.

Patrick Miller — Point Guard — Sioux Falls Skyforce

Miller had a breakout season last year for the Texas Legends and was playing even better to start the season this year before being traded to Sioux Falls to make room for the return of Pierre Jackson. Miller is a 6-foot-1 guard built like a running back and he uses his stout frame to attack the basket and finish over larger foes. It’s difficult to garner attention playing with the likes of Briante Weber, Keith Benson and recent NBA call up Okaro White, but Miller is slowly gaining his bearings with the Skyforce.

Over his first 17 games he was averaging 21.2 minutes and putting up 9.2 points and 2.8 assists in that limited time. The Showcase may have been his coming out party however, as he played 42.5 minutes and averaged 29.5 points and six assists. His play was good enough to earn a spot on First Team All-Showcase over his more decorated teammates. Miller used his quickness and brute force to earn 23 free throws (he made 19) over the two games in Mississauga. Let’s see if the 24-year-old can keep this momentum going over the second half of the year.

Gabe York — Point Guard — Erie BayHawks

York went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft, played with the Orlando Magic in summer league and then headed to Italy to play as a rookie. After a brief stint there, he returned to be picked up by the Magic’s affiliate in Erie and he’s been a starter ever since. York became a real 3-point sniper over his four years at the University of Arizona, but needs to show he can handle lead guard responsibilities since his 6-foot-3, 185 pound frame precludes him from playing off the ball.

Coming into the Showcase York was already a starter for the BayHawks averaging 15.7 points and 3.7 assists on almost 47 percent shooting. York was really able to show off his playmaking abilities over the two games in Canada averaging seven assists — almost double his season average. He also displayed his blistering 3-point jumper going 11-of-20 and hitting 3s coming off screens, off the catch and even an occasional pull up off the dribble. York can really shoot it, but the next step is proving he can run a team and help others get open looks.

Kadeem Jack — Power Forward — Reno Bighorns

Jack has been stuck on the bench in Reno, mostly due to the Sacramento Kings keeping Skal Labissierre and Geogios Papagiannis there almost exclusively. Jack is a 24-year-old, 6-foot-9 jumping bean out of Rutgers. He played with Reno last season as well, but had trouble staying on the court due to foul trouble. However, in the eight games he played 20+ minutes he averaged 18.5 points and 7.9 rebounds on almost 60 percent shooting (Reno went 5-3 in those games).

The Bighorns could really use Jack’s energy, either starting or off the bench, and it’s clear he needs more minutes. Coming into the Showcase he was averaging 6.3 points and three rebounds in just 12 minutes a game over 17 contests. At the Showcase he averaged 32 minutes and put up 21 points and 11.5 rebounds on 53.3 percent shooting. He had double-doubles in each game (the first two of the year) and was a plus-26 during his time on the court. Reno went 1-1 and coach Darrick Martin will be hard-pressed to keep Jack on the bench after this showing.

Alfonzo McKinnie — Small Forward — Windy City Bulls

McKinnie has been a lottery ticket for Windy City all season long. He made the team as a tryout player after playing his rookie season in Mexico last year. The 24-year-old, 6-foot-8 forward now gets to play for his hometown team in the D-League and he’s making the most of it. He moves so well with or without the ball in his hands, and his athleticism is apparent as soon as you see him run.

McKinnie averaged 28.1 minutes a game coming into the Showcase. He was mainly used as a spark off the bench for coach Loenser averaging 14.7 points and 8.8 rebounds. However, McKinnie was in the starting lineup for the Showcase and he made good on move putting up 18.5 points, 13 rebounds and 1.5 steals on 50 percent shooting for the two games. The expansion Windy City Bulls went 1-1 behind strong play from McKinnie and newly-acquired Will Bynum. McKinnie’s aggression was on full display as he earned 14 trips to the charity stripe over the two contest. He’s one to watch as the season goes on.