D-League Roundup: NBA rookies cost Durrell Summers playing time

December 14, 2012 in Professional

Our weekly look at how Michigan natives are doing in the NBA D-League this season.

Durrell Summers, Idaho Stampede

I’ve noted a few times that Summers was off to a great start with Idaho. But something I’d never considered could be a problem derailed him a bit. From Gino Pilato of Ridiculous Upside:

That all changed once Barton and Claver showed up, as Summers playing time was cut down significantly, his level of play diminished as well. Summers averaged 7.5 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 23.5 minutes. Prior to the weekend, Summers was averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals in 38.5 minutes.

Summers is an example of the affect in which short term assignments can have on players accustomed to their starting position and most importantly minutes. NBA teams are gladly utilizing their ability to assign young players to their D-League affiliate, but while they are assisting in the development process for a particular young player, they also may be cutting into a promising prospect’s minutes and ability to shine.

That’s Will Barton and Victor Claver. Both are rookies with the Portland Trail Blazers who were assigned to their affiliate, Idaho, to get some minutes since they weren’t playing much with the parent club. As Pilato points out, this is great for a NBA club that needs to get young players minutes to develop, but it hurts a guy like Summers who, unlike Claver and Barton, does not yet have a lucrative NBA contract.

Although Summers has cooled off some from his hot start and due to his lack of recent minutes, he’s still averaging 16 points per game and, by all accounts, a very hard-working player who still has untapped potential.

Walker Russell Jr., Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Russell, who has always put up numbers in the D-League, is coming off his best game of the season, scoring 29 points with three assists. Russell also continues to do make perimeter jumpers. He’s making 36 percent of his 3-pointers so far this season, something he failed to do well in his NBA stint with the Pistons last season.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, Texas Legends

Douglas-Roberts is still arguably the top player in the D-League this season. Nate Smith of Cavs: The Blog, ESPN’s TrueHoop Network affiliate for the Cleveland Cavaliers, writes that CDR could be an attractive free agent option for teams in need of perimeter help:

The Lakers are probably regretting cutting him right now, as he’s far and away the best player in the D-League, with an almost 28 PPG average.  Ability to play was never his issue.  He seemed to grate front offices wherever he went.  I’d love to see the Cavs dump someone and sign him right now.

Keith Benson, Erie Bayhawks

Benson started the season a bit slowly and was also overshadowed by a strong performance by fellow Erie big man Henry Sims, but Benson has picked it up lately. He had 17 points and seven rebounds in a loss on Dec. 9 and 23 points, 11 rebounds and three steals in a win Dec. 6.

It’s good to see Benson get going. He played well over the summer and in training camp with the Hawks, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be putting up big numbers in the D-League. He’s a highly skilled big man and now that he’s found his groove, expect his numbers to continue to rise.

Brandon Bowdry, Erie Bayhawks

Benson’s teammate, Bowdry, hasn’t been so fortunate. He’s out of the Erie rotation and has yet to score a basket this season. Bowdry’s strength is his energy, and he did grab two rebounds in eight minutes on Dec. 6 which, modest as it is, is his best performance so far. Hopefully it’s something he can build on and continue to earn his way into the mix for more playing time.


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