Weekly MVP and Player Updates for the Texas Legends By: Kevin Brolan
Week of January 6th – January 13th (Includes games vs. Springfield – 1/7, vs. Tulsa – 1/8, @ New Mexico – 1/10, vs. Iowa 1/13)
It was a busy week for the Legends who had two home games before hitting the road to South Padre Island to play two more. The trip to Padre was part of the yearly D-League Showcase where some of the brightest minds in the NBA gather in order to witness the top D-League talent. Yep, that includes Mavs GM/Legends Co-Owner Donnie Nelson. The showcase coincides with NBA teams becoming eligible to sign players to 10-day contracts, which took place last week. Through it all, we saw mostly good (two wins, great rebounding), a little bad (two close losses), and parts we could downright do without (blown leads, 108 total turnovers in 4 games).
The week started off right with a giant win over the Springfield Armor (123-93). The blowout was nice because it meant the starters could finally get some much needed rest, but the two one-point losses in a row that followed weren't as great. The first loss came against the Tulsa 66ers (95-96) in the fourth installment of the Texoma Tussle. A rivalry is budding between these two clubs, so don't miss Texoma Tussle V: This time it's personal, coming January 22nd.
The second loss came against the New Mexico Thunderbirds (94-95) after blowing a 14-point first half lead in a turnover plagued game. With many NBA scouts in attendance, it wasn't exactly the best time to play so sloppily, so it was promising to see the boys bounce back with a nail-biting win in Padre vs. the Iowa Energy (119-114).
Hopefully the Legends can "rebound" from an inconsistent week and "turnover" a new leaf. I got jokes.
While the "NBA Call-Up Watch" continues, there is plenty to focus on in this week's Down On The Farm Report … from Joe Alexander to the rest … On to the Legends' player evaluations! There were four games this week. As always, these stats are weekly averages.
Joe Alexander, F, 23
MPG-44, FG-53%, FT-100%, 3FG- 2-8, PPG-21.8, RPG-10.3, APG-5.0, SPG-0.8, BPG-2.8, TO-4.5:
It has gotten to the point where everyone who tracks the D-League (you included) knows what Joe Alexander can do. Joe has a great all around game. He can post up, shoot a mid-range jumpshot, rebound, handle the ball at times, and have an offense run through him.
His status as a "tweener" though is what may be holding him back from another chance in the NBA.
In the D-League, he can post up at the power forward position and basically do what he wants on the block, but can he post up bigger, stronger power forwards in the NBA? In the D-League, he can shoot his mid-range shot at the small forward position, but can he truly stretch the floor in the NBA from a position that requires it? Joe has improved in nearly every facet of his game, but right now NBA scouts don't seem convinced that he can continue that progression at the NBA level.
They say that a player needs one elite skill to get to the NBA, where they can then be coached up on other facets of their game in order to become a contributor. What is that one skill for Joe? From the small forward position, we feel it is rebounding. That is where he is (D-League) elite. Lately, he has been playing more of the 3 while being on the floor at the same time as Sean Williams and Keith Clark. Is he comfortable playing small forward all of the time? We don't know, but it appears that that is his ticket back to the NBA. As Del Harris mentioned last week, if Joe keeps progressing with his jumpshot, he's gone.
Sean Williams, F/C, 12
MPG-32, FG-48%, FT-80%, 3FG- 0-0, PPG-12.0, RPG-9.0, APG-1.5, SPG-1.0, BPG-2.8, TO-4.3:
Sean's minutes were down a bit this week due to a mild ankle injury he took in the first New Mexico game, but the production didn't slow down at all. Sean's destiny as a quality energy guy off the bench for an NBA team is confirmed more and more with us every week. Even in the NBA, you would be hard pressed to find a big man who can run the floor as well as Sean. His defensive anticipation continues to improve which is allowing him to take charges at important junctures of games. He gets blocks, rebounds, and dunks. All of this adds up to an energy guy who can help just about any team.
There have always been a few whispers about Sean's attitude which may affect NBA teams taking a flier on him. He didn't help his cause in the game against Tulsa when he was tossed for arguing. In an overtime game where the Legends needed his talents, his ejection may have decided the outcome.
Other than that one slip up, Sean has been a model citizen for the Legends and it is a nod to his maturation as a player that incidents like that are so few and far between.
Justin Dentmon, G, 4
MPG-41, FG-48%, FT-89%, 3FG- 10-19, PPG-24.5, RPG-5.3, APG-7.5, SPG-3.3, BPG-0.5, TO-5.8:
More so than anyone else on the roster, Justin made the most of his opportunity to play in front of NBA GM's this past week. Joe and Sean played a little below their potential while in Padre, but the DentMAN displayed his skills of getting to the basket and running a high-scoring offense. He pushed the ball in order to constantly put pressure on the opposing defense and consistently knocked down the outside shot, so it became increasingly difficult to play off him.
Two areas Justin must work on in order to thrive at the next level are decreasing his turnovers and taking over down the stretch. He has a very high usage rate for the Legends as currently constructed, so his decision making must be spot on. The team turnover numbers this week were ghastly, so it is saying a lot that Justin had the most individual turnovers.
Additionally, this week the Legends had two games where they saw big leads evaporate. Times like that are when Justin needs to use his ability to get anywhere on the floor in order to score or get to the free throw line. He needs to be the one to "stop the bleeding" when the situation presents itself.
Despite these two issues, Justin increased his stock tremendously this week. Don't be surprised if he is snatched up by the NBA before the year is done.
Booker Woodfox, G, 11
MPG-24, FG-53%, FT-93%, 3FG- 3-7, PPG-14.5, RPG-4.0, APG-1.8, SPG-1.3, BPG-0.0, TO-1.8:
Booker "Mr. Cool Name" Woodfox had, in our opinion, his most productive week of the year. We mentioned how his contributions to the team are minimal if his three-pointer isn't falling, so what did he do? He shot 53% on the week and dropped almost 15 points a game while only taking SEVEN shots from deep over the four games. That is an unreal adjustment from a guy who can get caught just hanging out around the three-point line at times. His minutes per game are also slightly lower this week due to missing the majority of the Iowa game after getting a nasty bump on his head.
To top the week off, Booker won the D-League Showcase 3-point contest making sure that everyone remembered he can shoot lights out from three. The adjustments Booker made this week reflect a player who is learning and progressing.
Kelvin Lewis, G, 22
MPG-32, FG-63%, FT-100%, 3FG- 10-19, PPG-14.8, RPG-6.8, APG-2.5, SPG-1.8, BPG-0.0, TO-3.3:
Kelvin had some of his best all around performances this week. For the last few games Kelvin has been providing solid off-guard play, but this week he saw a massive bump in rebounds, assists, and steals rather than just points. Also, it's becoming quite evident that he and Justin are more comfortable with each other in the backcourt every game. By consistently playing together, their roles are clearly established and their games are becoming suitable complements. Now, about those turnovers…
Keith Clark, F, 33
MPG-22, FG-35%, FT-43%, 3FG- 1-1, PPG-4.0, RPG-3.3, APG-1.8, SPG-0.5, BPG-1.8, TO-2.0:
Keith increased his load this week and he continued to look for his groove as he comes off an injury. He showed signs of low post moves for the first time in a while, which is a positive sign for his confidence. He still needs offensive polishing, but he is an "and 1" machine due to his strength. If he can get the ball in position down low, Keith can take contact and finish at the rim with ease.
Rece Hampton, F, 41
MPG-25, FG-46%, FT-N/A, 3FG- 0-2, PPG-6.5, RPG-4.5, APG-1.3, SPG-1.0, BPG-1.3, TO-1.5:
Rece "Hardhat" Hampton found himself in the starting lineup again this week as the Legends continued to go big. He'll never be the go-to-guy on offense, but he earns his keep with hustle and muscle. His best move this week was going for a loose ball and spilling Iowa's water and Gatorade everywhere. Our theory is that the Energy were too parched to keep up with the Legends down the stretch. Genius, Rece. Pure genius.
Matt Rogers, F/C, 32
MPG-17, FG-52%, FT-83%, 3FG- 0-1, PPG-6.8, RPG-4.0, APG-0.5, SPG-0.3, BPG-0.8, TO-0.8:
Matt saw a slight increase in minutes this week and he definitely took advantage of his time. Seven points and 4 rebounds in his limited minutes directly reflected the solid energy he brought to the court. He is working even harder and it is showing.
This week's MVP: Despite a late charge by Kelvin Lewis, Justin Dentmon held him off and is now the first back-to-back winner of the weekly Texas Legends MVP. The committee could throw superlatives Justin's way for his work this week, but we'll let his stat-line from the Iowa game's box score do the talking:
10-17 FG, 3-6 3P, 14-14 FT, 38 PTS, 7 REB, 13 AST, 4 ST … Any questions?
Texas Legends Quote of the Week:
"When (Coach Nancy Lieberman) came in, nobody saw her as a woman. Everybody saw her as coach. The fact of the matter is she knows what she's talking about and when she talks, we listen." –Antonio Daniels discussing the legitimacy of his current coach
Player Movement: Guard Pierce Caldwell is no longer with the team as he has accepted an offer to play for a club overseas. Make the Heartland Conference proud, Pierce.
Upcoming Texas Legends Games (Home Games in Bold):
Sunday, Jan 16 @ Reno Bighorns – 5:00 pm CT
Friday, Jan 21 vs. Maine Red Claws – 7:00 pm CT
Saturday, Jan 22 @ Tulsa 66ers – 7:00 pm CT (Texoma Tussle V!!)