Beginning today, teams may begin signing players to 10-day contracts. These contracts are most commonly used as a tryout period for respective players. Most players that sign a 10-day contract originate from the NBA’s Development League.
Teams may sign a player to a maximum of two 10-day contracts. Following the end of the second 10-day contract, teams must decide if they want to sign that player for the remainder of the season or cut ties with that player.
Last season, 32 players received 42 call-ups while an all-time high 63 call-ups occurred two seasons ago. Players like Sean Kilpatrick, Tim Frazier and James Ennis were some of the players called up to the NBA last season who still remain on an NBA roster today.
This week also represents the deadline in which non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed, with teams needing to cut those players by Saturday in order to allow for the two-day waiver period before those contracts become guaranteed on Tuesday. As more roster spots open up, this could free the way for more prospects to earn their way onto NBA rosters.
With teams now able to sign players to 10-day contracts, here are 10 prospects to keep an eye on (in no particular order):
Keith Benson, Sioux Falls Skyforce:
For teams looking for an extra rim protector, Benson should be at the top of the list. On the season, Benson is averaging 19.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. He currently ranks 11th in the D-League in total points, first in total rebounds and first in total blocks. He leads the D-League in blocks by a wide margin, too. Benson has 62 total blocks this season. The next highest player on the list has 38.
As his blocks indicate, Benson has become a defensive force for the Skyforce this season. He also ranks seventh in the D-League with a 95.2 defensive rating. He leads all players in double-doubles with 12 and is coming off of his best game of the season, recording a career-high 33 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks.
Lamar Patterson, Reno Bighorns:
After splitting time between the Atlanta Hawks and the D-League last season, Patterson is having his best season to date and he seems to have gotten even better as the season has progressed. He’s averaging 22.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game and is fifth in total scoring over the past month. He currently ranks ninth in points and fourth in steals among all players. Patterson turned in his fourth game of the season on Tuesday in which he scored at least 30 points.
Perhaps the biggest improvement in his game has come in his shooting. He told Basketball Insiders over the summer he really wanted to improve his shot and his three-point percentage has improved from 26 percent last season to 34 percent this season. As his averages indicate, he’s been able to make an impact in many facets of the game. His best game of the season came on Dec. 9 when he recorded 35 points, eight rebounds, seven steals and four assists. His seven steals tied a season-high for any player in the D-League this season.
Quincy Acy, Texas Legends:
Acy has the most NBA experience of these candidates and is said to be among the most likely to earn a call-up. Acy was waived by the Dallas Mavericks back in November to make room for point guard Jonathan Gibson after the team suffered injuries to Deron Williams, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea. Had it not been for those injuries, Acy would likely still be with the Mavericks as he was a favorite among players and the coaching staff.
Acy has appeared in 12 games for the Legends and is averaging 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, two blocks, 1.6 steals and 1.2 assists. His best game of the season came back on Dec. 14 when he recorded 28 points and 14 rebounds. Acy has proven that he can be a solid rotation player during his four seasons in the NBA so it seems likely he’ll be back in the league once the right situation opens up for him.
Briante Weber, Sioux Falls Skyforce:
With Pierre Jackson earning the sixth call-up of the season last week, Weber takes over as the No. 1 prospect, according to the D-League’s Prospect Watch list. Weber earned a pair of call-ups last season with the HEAT before finishing out the season with them. Weber is perhaps one of the most exciting players to watch given his ability to impact the game all over the floor. While he isn’t the best shooter, he can contribute in many other areas.
He is averaging 13.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.9 steals per game. His defense has been arguably one of his biggest attributes this season. He’s known to be a pest on defense and currently has the fifth-best defensive rating in the D-League. Weber currently leads all point guards in rebounding and leads all players in steals. There have been nine triple-doubles recorded in the D-League this season and Weber has three of them. Perhaps his most impressive triple-double was when he had 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists on Christmas Day.
Quinn Cook, Canton Charge:
Cook has been one of the most consistent scorers in the D-League this season. His 25.1 points per game currently ranks fifth among all players and his 49-point outing on Dec. 7 is tied for the second-highest point total this season. In addition to his 25.1 points, he’s also averaging 5.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Of the nine triple-doubles recorded in the D-League this season, Cook has one of them after he had 15 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds on Nov. 18. Cook’s game seems to have improved even more on the offensive end this season. His points per game are up from 19.6 last season to 25.1 this season. In addition, he’s earning more trips to the line as well. He averaged 3.6 free throw attempts last season and is up to 6.4 this season. He’s fun to watch as the primary ball handler, as he’s shown he can make a number of different hesitation dribbles and embarrass defenders. Given his abilities offensively, it shouldn’t be surprising to see Cook in the NBA sooner than later.
Cory Jefferson, Austin Spurs:
Jefferson is another candidate that has prior experience in the league. He appeared in 50 games two seasons ago with the Brooklyn Nets and was with the Phoenix Suns last season for eight games. In 19 games this season with the Austin Spurs, Jefferson is averaging 15.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Jefferson is coming off of his best game of the season after scoring a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double. Jefferson can be a solid contributor for a team to add some size off of the bench. He has great athleticism at 6’9 and is a great option in the pick-and-roll as well. He’s improved his shooting, as he’s converting on 50 percent of his three-point attempts. Given his prior NBA experience, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jefferson receive a call at some point.
Manny Harris, Texas Legends:
In terms of the best scorer in the D-League, Harris could be the guy. He’s currently averaging 26.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the Legends. He’s second in total scoring and owns two of the top four scoring performances in the D-League this season with outings of 49 points and 47 points, respectively.
Harris is a guy that has played virtually everywhere in his professional career. He has spent three seasons in the NBA, four seasons abroad and several others in the D-League. Harris could be a guy that decided to stay in the United States until call-ups start and then go overseas if he doesn’t receive one soon.
Chasson Randle, Westchester Knicks:
Randle’s first season in the D-League has been a good one. In 16 games for the Knicks, he’s averaging 21.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Randle has established himself as a great three-point shooter who can get hot and put up a lot of points. He’s shooting 41 percent from three-point range and is 10th in the D-League in three-pointers made. On Dec. 16, he made nine three-pointers and followed up that outing by knocking down seven triples.
Randle was close to making the New York Knicks’ opening night roster after a strong preseason, but suffered a fractured orbital bone in training camp that ultimately hurt his chances at sticking around. The Knicks are said to like his defense and could opt to bring him up at some point in the near future should a roster spot open up.
As the window to sign players to 10-day contracts is officially now underway, keep an eye on these players who could get a chance. Of course, there will be others that will get an opportunity as well. These players have all shown at various times throughout the season that they could be a valuable addition to a prospective team.
Did we leave someone out? Hit the comments and let us know!
A Few Good Free Agents Left
David Yapkowitz looks at several free agents still remaining on the market ahead of the season.
The start of the 2017-2018 NBA season is finally here, and teams are required to have their 15-man roster (plus two possible two-way contacts) finalized. Every year there are players that are left off a roster. Some are younger guys who maybe haven’t proven they belong in the league just yet. Some are older veterans looking for that one final hurrah.
A few of these players might take open gigs in the G-League or overseas in hopes of attracting the attention of NBA front offices as the year goes on. Others remain at home, working out and waiting for that call that might never come. And sometimes, the waiting and anticipating pays off as playoff teams come looking for veteran help and tanking teams are on the hunt for unrealized potential.
For most of the veteran guys, their opportunities will likely come later in the season when teams gear up for the playoffs. Here’s a look at a few of the top veteran free agents left that could certainly help a team at some point during this season.
Since being traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Boston Celtics three year ago, Lee has adapted to his new role as a veteran big man helping to anchor second units. He is no longer the automatic double-double machine and borderline All-Star he once was, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything left in the tank.
He didn’t really fit quite right in Boston, but in his stops with the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, he still showed he can be a solid contributor off the bench. In 25 games with Mavericks in the 2015-2016 season, Lee put up 8.5 points per game on 63.6 percent shooting while pulling down seven rebounds per. With the Spurs last year, he averaged 7.3 points on 59 percent shooting to go along with 5.6 rebounds. For a playoff team that needs a little big man depth, he is a solid option.
Much was made about Williams’ disappearing act in the Finals last year, and rightfully so, but lost in all the chatter was the actual solid job he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers leading up to that point. Once in the conversation for best point guard in the league, injuries and poor play in Brooklyn sort of made Williams a forgotten man. The Nets bought out his contract and he joined his hometown Dallas Mavericks.
After a so-so first year in Dallas, Williams looked rejuvenated last year to the point that he actually drew some interest around the trade deadline. With the Mavericks looking to get younger and head closer to that rebuilding path, they cut Williams and allowed him to join a contending team. Over the final 24 games of last season, including four starts, he averaged 7.5 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, 41.5 percent from the three-point line, and 3.6 assists. Of course, his Finals performance is all anyone cares to remember, but if a team needs a veteran backup point guard, they could do a lot worse.
Last season in Indiana, Ellis posted some of the lowest numbers of his career since his rookie season. Heading into a rebuilding year, the Pacers waived Ellis and his name barely came up in free agent rumors during the summer. At his best, Ellis was a borderline All-Star talent who could put up points in a hurry. Despite his reputation as a gunner, Ellis was a bit of an underrated playmaker and was never as bad defensively as most made him out to be.
He never really seemed to find his groove in Indiana. In his first year with the Pacers during the 2015-2016 season, he posted 13.8 points per game, down from 18.9 the previous year in Dallas, and his shooting dropped from 44.5 percent from the field to 42.7 percent. His playoff numbers with the Pacers were down even more than his regular season numbers, despite exploding in the postseason a few years before with Dallas. His starting days are almost assuredly behind him, but as a sixth man type scorer bringing energy off the bench, he’s probably better than a lot of the players currently in that role.
The Brazilian Blur’s best days are behind him, but similar to Ellis, he can still help a team in need of additional scoring punch off the bench. It was only two years ago that he was a key contributor off the Warriors bench. Firmly on the rebuilding track, the Suns waived Barbosa during the summer. Despite still being a capable player, his name also rarely came up in the free agent rumor mill.
He didn’t play all that much last season for a Phoenix Suns team that is clearly rebuilding, but he still was able to average 6.3 points per game in only 14.4 minutes per. His role on a rebuilding team would be a veteran mentor, but for a playoff team, he’s not a bad option. He showed that he can still play at the NBA level despite losing a step or two. Perhaps later on in the season when teams start looking for playoff help is when he may find his phone starting to ring.
The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations that come with being drafted that high. He’s only averaged double figures (12.0) in scoring once in his career and that was during the 2012-2013 season. When he came into the league, he didn’t really have much of a set position. He was a tweener, somewhere in between small forward and power forward. That was prior to the changes occurring in today’s NBA with more of a premium on stretch big men.
During Williams’ time in Cleveland last season, he played in 25 games and averaged 6.2 points per game. What stood out most, however, was his shooting. He shot 50.5 percent from the field, including 40.4 percent from the three-point line, both career-highs. Shooting from long range was always a bit of a weakness for him and prior to last season, he had never shot higher than 33.2 percent from downtown. He also didn’t register much chatter by way of free agent rumors, but if he can reproduce shooting percentages like that, he fits right in with the direction of the league.
With league rosters pretty much set, there likely won’t be much roster movement, if any at all, for the next few months. Teams are looking to see how their new summer acquisitions work out. But after a few months of real game action, other roster needs start to become more apparent. Don’t be surprised if come the new year, teams start knocking on a few of these player’s doorsteps.
NBA PM: The Wizards Are “More Than Ready” For A Big Year
Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal says his team is “more than ready” for the start of the NBA season.
With several teams in the Eastern Conference taking a step back, the Washington Wizards will be one of the beneficiaries due to roster continuity. Shooting guard Bradley Beal, one of several key Wizards signed to a long-term contract, said the team is “more than ready” for the season and has large expectations.
“This is going to be a big year for us,” said Beal after a Monday practice. “We’re healthy. There’s no excuse for us [not to] get off to a good start.”
Beal added that, while health is a key for the entire roster, it’s especially important for him after struggling with injuries in the past.
“It’s really a confidence booster, realizing my potential, what I can be, the type of player I can be when I had a healthy season,” said Beal of last year’s campaign. “That’s probably what I was more proud of than anything, playing 70-plus games and then playing in the playoffs every game.”
In Basketball Insiders’ season preview for the Wizards, we noted that Beal was Washington’s most efficient ball handler in the pick and roll last season. Beal said that creating for teammates is something he’s worked on in the offseason and will continue to be a point of emphasis.
“That was great for me and the strides I made throughout the year, working on my ball handling, working on creating for other guys and getting my own shot,” said Beal. “Those are the primary things I’m focused on … being able to create better, getting guys easier shots than before, getting more assists and improve everywhere.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after Friday’s preseason finale in New York that he’s been encouraged by the ball movement he has seen since the start of camp.
“I thought a lot of good things happened in training camp,” said Brooks. “The ball movement was outstanding. Guys were sacrificing for one another on the offensive end.”
One thing that should help the ball movement of the second unit is the arrival of backup point guard Tim Frazier, who missed most of the preseason due to a strained groin. Frazier had nine assists and no turnovers in his preseason debut against the Miami HEAT.
“I feel very comfortable with Tim,” said Brooks. “He finds corner threes, which we like.”
Beal added that one area he hopes to improve, both individually and as a team, is rebounding.
“I think I only had like three rebounds [per game] last year,” said Beal. “I obviously love scoring the ball. That’s something I never worry about. I want to continue to fill up the stat sheet a little bit more and contribute to the game in different areas. I think rebounding was something that hurt us a little bit last year.”
The Wizards host the Philadelphia 76ers to open the season Wednesday, and Brooks said it will take a team effort to defend emerging star Joel Embiid.
“He’s a problem,” said Brooks after Sunday’s practice. “His athleticism is off the charts. We’re going to have to do a good job of staying in front of him. You’re talking about a guy that can put the ball on the floor, that can get to spaces and spots that normally a 6-10 guy doesn’t.”
With a revamped bench, roster continuity and good health entering the season, the Wizards look like a team that could challenge the Cavaliers, Celtics and Raptors for supremacy in the East. Beal certainly seems to think so.
NBA Opening Night Storylines
Hours before the 2017-18 season gets set to tip off, here are some storylines to follow for Tuesday’s games.
The long summer is over. We finally made it. NBA opening night is upon us.
Rejoice, hoop heads.
Because the NBA is a perfect concoction of chaos at all times, Tuesday’s opening night slate has some can’t-miss built in headlines that the entire league is going to be glued to.
With a new year set to begin, everyone is on the same page. Whether that page includes the likes of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry or Doug McDermott and Tim Hardaway Jr. is a different story. But still, Tuesday marks day one for all teams and as it stands they’re all equal.
As we get set to sit down and dissect these opening game matchups on Tuesday, let’s highlight the most intriguing storylines that will be followed for the rest of the season. There’s nothing like watching a story grown in the NBA from its inception, right?
Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers — 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
This is the game we’ve all been waiting for since late June, when Kyrie Irving let it be known to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out from under LeBron’s shadow.
Three years of NBA Finals appearances, the greatest comeback in basketball history, and a ring to show for was all Irving wanted to walk away from. For him, he felt it was his time to shine.
And because the NBA is the perfect mix of beautiful insanity, it would only make sense that Irving would get dealt to the very team that is jostling for position to unseat the Cavs and King James.
The Irving-led Boston Celtics will have to wait a grand total of one second in the new NBA season to begin their matchup with their point guards old teammates and the team that stands in between them a Finals appearance. With Gordon Hayward and Irving together for the first time against meaningful competition, there’s no better way than to check their fit from the jump than by challenging the conference champions in their building.
But Irving’s homecoming isn’t the only storyline heading into the first game of the season. There are some changes on Cleveland’s end as well.
While the main return for Irving — Isaiah Thomas — won’t be suiting up for the Cavs anytime soon due to injury, there are still plenty of new faces to keep an eye on Tuesday night. First and foremost, Flash is in town. After having his contract bought out by the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade joined forces with his buddy in The Land in hopes of recapturing some of the magic that led them to two championships in South Beach.
By teaming up once again, James and Wade provide some of the best chemistry in the league. Yes, Wade isn’t the player he once was when he and James were winning rings. But something is to be said for knowing exactly where someone will be on the court at all times, and that’s the trait exactly that Wade and James share.
Along with Wade, James and the Cavs are hoping to get some type of resurgence from Derrick Rose and Jeff Green off of the bench. Once Thomas returns to the court for Cleveland, this is arguably the deepest team James has ever been around in Cleveland.
Even with Irving and Hayward on board, Boston will be relying on some role players of their own — namely Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The back-to-back third overall picks will occupy most of the time at the forward spots opposite of Hayward. As the season moves on, the development of both of these wings will be crucial to how dangerous the Celtics can be past their two star players.
Tuesday night will be must-see television at Quicken Loans Arena. New eras for the Eastern Conference heavyweights are about to begin.
And as James told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, “The Kid” will be just fine.
Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors — 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
On the Western side of the basketball landscape Tuesday night, the potential conference finals matchup will see its first act when the revamped Rockets head to the Bay Area.
Last season at this time, the basketball world was bracing for what the Warriors would look like after adding Kevin Durant to a 73-win team. And as expected, they dominated. Not even LeBron James could put a stop to them, managing just one win in their finals bout.
This year brings in more of the same questions. Can anyone stop the Warriors? Will Golden State just steamroll their way to another championship, effectively sucking the fun of competition out of the entire league?
Well, a few teams this offseason did their best to try and combat that narrative. One of them being the Rockets, who they added perennial all-star point guard Chris Paul to their backcourt.
Putting Paul in the same backcourt as superstar James Harden has the potential to create some of the biggest headaches for opposing teams. The constant ball movement and open looks the two star guards can provide are nearly endless.
While the league swoons over the Warriors’ ability to hit shots from well beyond the arc, it should be noted that it was Houston last year that led the NBA in three-point shooting, not Golden State. It’s certainly not wise to try and go toe-to-toe with the Warriors at their own game, but if there’s ever a team equipped to do it, it’s Houston. Tuesday night will provide a nice preview look at how things in the Western Conference could shake out in the coming months.
Aside from the barrage of scoring that will take place in this matchup, what would a big game be for the Warriors without a little Draymond Green trash talk?
After Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni told ESPN that, “You’re not gonna stop them. It’s just not gonna happen. They’re not gonna stop us, either,” Green clapped back with a comment of his own, as he always does.
“I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment,” Green said. “But they added some good defensive players.”
It’s true, the Rockets aren’t considered a defensive stalwart by any means. Last season, Houston was 26th in points allowed, compared to second in points scored. Green may be onto something when it comes to questioning how serious his opponents take defense.
That being said, last year’s Rockets didn’t feature Paul. Even at the age of 32, Paul is still one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. And no matter his age, he’ll always possess that competitive fire he’s been known for over the last 12 years.
Going up against the Warriors at Oracle is usually nothing short of impossible, but if there’s going to be a team to challenge their supremacy this season, we’ll get a good look at how they stack up on night one.
With all of this in mind, let’s not forget that the world’s best league is finally back in action. Give yourself a pat on the back, you made it. Now, go enjoy some basketball.