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Poking Through The Cracks: The D-League Is Rapidly Growing From The Ground Up

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Since the D-League's inception in 2001, it has been picked on, ridiculed, looked down on and tossed aside like old news. Only eight teams existed back; a sure fire difference from the 17 we see now. Players who competed night in, night out in the National Basketball Association’s minor league weren’t treated with respect; rather, the general consensus was that if you were in the D-League, you’re holding onto a childhood dream.

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D-League Game of the Day: Rio Grande Valley Vipers Vs. Austin Toros

 

Nando De Colo challenges two Houston defenders.

Even at the Developmental League level, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers have evolved into must-see TV. The D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets has emerged as the league’s most lethal offense, scoring 131.8 points while shooting 48 three-pointers per contest. Troy Daniels, their sixth man is averaging 25.1 points and draining more than six shots from beyond the arc per game. Oh, and did I mention they’re undefeated?

The Vipers are 8-0 and are led by rookie coach Nevada Smith. The squad features two players with NBA experience, Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington. Canaan, 22, was the Rockets’ second-round pick in June’s draft. After spending more than a month with Houston, he was assigned to the Vipers on November 7. The guard has flourished, scoring 21.4 points and recording 9.5 assists in eight games.

Covington, also 22, signed with the Rockets in July before also being assigned to the team on Nov. 7. The forward is playing quality basketball, averaging 18 points and grabbing down 9 boards per game.

The Austin Toros (3-3) look to improve to 3-1 on their home court. Nando De Colo has bounced back and forth between the Toros and the San Antonio Spurs in the month of December a couple of times now, but performs extremely well every time he puts on his Toro uniform. In two appearances, the 26-year-old guard is averaging 30.5 points, 7 assists and 4.5 steals in 38 minutes per contest.

The team also boasts former NBA players Josh Howard and Ronald “Flip” Murray. Howard, a former All-Star is averaging 13.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in his first ever five D-League games. Murray is dropping 12.6 points per contest.

Prediction:

Although Austin is playing on their home court, the Vipers have too many offensive weapons to be taken down by the Toros.

Vipers, 115 – Toros, 111

Watch on YouTube

Time: 12:00 P.M. ET

Check out Daniels’ 31 point-performance from their 115-114 over the Reno Bighorns on Tuesday. The guard dropped 31 points, knocking down 8 three-pointers in the process.

(Via Scott Rafferty’s article)

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NBA D-League Game of the Night: Rio Grande Valley Vipers Vs. Bakersfield Jam

Isaiah Canaan will be leading the charge for the Vipers against the Jam on Tuesday night. Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Bakersfield Jam (D-League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz) look to secure their first victory of the season as they host the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (affiliate of the Houston Rockets) on Tuesday night.

The Jam are coming off two straight losses to the Idaho Stampede (affiliate of the Portland Trail Blazers). The squad’s only player with NBA experience is Oregon State product Jared Cunningham. The 22-year-old was selected No. 24 overall in the 2012 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, shortly before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks. The 6-4 guard appeared in 8 games for the Mavs, scoring 16 points. He was then traded to the Hawks last June. In Cunningham’s first two appearances this season, he is averaging 13.5 points and dishing out 4 assists.

The Vipers are attempting to begin their season 2-0 after topping the Los Angeles D-Fenders (affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers) on Saturday. Their most notable players are Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington, both having been on NBA rosters. After an All-American career at Murray State, Canaan was drafted No. 34 overall by the Rockets. Both Canaan and Covington were on Houston’s roster until November 7, but never saw game-action.

Canaan, 22, scored 12 points in his professional debut against the D-Fenders, adding 8 assists as well. Covington, also 22, picked up the double-double in his first professional game, dropping 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the process.

Notable alumni for the Vipers include Aaron BrooksSteve Novak and C.J. Watson.

The Pick:

The Jam will put up a good fight on their home-court, but the offensive prowess of the Vipers will be too much for Bakersfield to overcome.

Vipers, 111 – Jam, 98

Broadcasted on Youtube

Time: 10:00 p.m. ET

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D-League Report: Cousin, McNeal, Alabi and Temple

Another week of heavy activity for the D-League this week as teams try to grab the assets they need to fill holes due to injury, or attempt to shake things up for the stretch. Here are some highlights:

Marcus Cousin Ready for Jazz, His Uniform… Not So Much

Marcus Cousin signed a ten-day deal to join the Utah Jazz on Tuesday and were excited to get him involved quickly. He joined the team in Toronto as the Jazz began a four game road trip with a number of players (Paul Milsap, Andrei Kirilenko, Ronnie Price, Francisco Elson, Kyrylo Fesenko and Mehmet Okur) injured.

Unfortunately, things happened so quickly, that the Jazz failed to make up a new uniform for Cousin in time for his first game, so he had to wear a number 0 jersey with no name on the back.

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D-League Report: Sundiata Gaines, Othyus Jeffers and Jeremy Evans

As the NBA season heads into crunch time, we have started to see solid activity in the D-League. NBA teams who are either battling the injury bug or potentially looking for something new are looking to the D-League to help them do so.

For today’s report, I’ve highlighted a few important news items in the world of the D-League and included a list of all the D-League Call Ups and Assignments so far this season. Enjoy!

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