With a handful of players with Michigan ties making a go of it in the NBA D-League this season, we’ll make this a weekly feature, updating how they’re doing so far. As you’ll see below, there were several great performances already.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Texas Legends
The Detroit native certainly had an exciting debut with 49 points, and he’s maintained a pretty good pace since. He’s averaging 28.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Douglas-Roberts recently talked with the Dallas Morning News about his quest to get back to the NBA:
CDR, as he is known, played his first two seasons in the NBA with Najera at New Jersey. Now Douglas-Roberts is being relied on as a key component of the Legends, who open their National Basketball Development League schedule Friday in Tulsa.
Douglas-Roberts is a prime example of what life in the NBADL is about. He has NBA talent and has been a part-time starter during his three-year career.
Now, he’s trying to get back.
“Sometimes, the NBA isn’t just about basketball,” Douglas-Roberts said. “It’s about business and it’s about being in the right place at the right time and the right system at the right time. I feel I’m an NBA player. So instead of going overseas and chasing the money, I’m going to be here for however long I’m here.
“It’s a humbling experience. We don’t stay in hotels I’m used to. The per diem envelope is a little thinner. But overall, this can’t do anything but make me better and stronger.”
CDR has been extremely reflective in interviews as he’s tried to make it back to the NBA after playing in Italy last season. It’s great to see his positive attitude, and if his strong play continues, there’s no reason to think he won’t be back in the league by the end of the season.
Durrell Summers, Idaho Stampede
When I interviewed Summers before the season started, he talked frequently about the work he was doing to get better defensively:
“I’ve worked a lot on being able to create shots for myself and others and being more of a fierce defender. I’m more vocal on the court now. I just try to do whatever it takes to win.”
Summers scored 21 points in the only game the Stampede have played so far, but he showed off the all-around game exactly like he hoped — he also had eight rebounds and five steals in the game. For D-League players hoping for a NBA shot, the key isn’t always proving you can score. NBA teams that make use of the D-League are looking for role players — guys who are smart, savvy defenders or knock-down shooters or otherwise bring a specific skill that could help off a bench. If those elements of Summers’ game continue to be a staple for him, he’ll be have a much better shot at realizing his NBA dream.
Keith Benson, Erie Bayhawks
Benson, who is splitting time at center with former Georgetown standout Henry Sims, scored eight points with four rebounds, two assists and a block in his season debut. He played 23 minutes, as did Sims, who had eight points, 12 rebounds and a block in his time on the court, although Benson shot the ball a bit better than Sims.
Brandon Bowdry, Erie Bayhawks
Bowdry only played four minutes in his season debut. He didn’t record any stats, other than a turnover.
Walker Russell Jr., Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Russell, who got a taste of the NBA last season with the Pistons, is off to a great start in three games for Fort Wayne. He’s averaging 20.3 points and 5.0 assists per game. More importantly, he’s making 40 percent of his 3-pointers. Russell has the ability to run a NBA offense as a backup point guard, but if he’s going to stick next time he gets a NBA look, he’ll have to prove he can hit perimeter shots at a reasonable clip, something he didn’t do last season with the Detroit Pistons.