Tonight at 6:30 PM PT the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Los Angeles Lakers NBA Development League affiliate, will play the Austin Toros, affiliate of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
The D-Fenders and Toros are perennial powers in the Western Conference, with each team boasting the greatest talent the NBA’s official minor league has to offer.
I will discuss possible call-up candidates and players to watch on the D-Fenders ahead of tonight’s matchup, which will be streaming live online on NBA D-League Futurecast.
Courtney Fortson (PG): Fortson is the starting point guard for the D-Fenders and he is one of the better all-around players in the Development League, averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 4.4 RPG. In addition, Fortson possesses a 19.59 Player Efficiency Rating, well about the average of 15.
Fortson is also decent on the defensive end of the floor, as he has good perimeter defense that the Lakers have been lacking at the 1 since the early 2000′s. However, Fortson lacks solid size as he is only 5’11″ and 185 pounds although with the inconsistency of Derek Fisher and their need of good point guard depth with Steve Blake just returning from a rib injury which left him inactive for multiple weeks, Fortson could have somewhat of an opportunity of receiving the ultimate goal of an NBA call up.
Players To Watch
Brandon Costner (PF/C): Costner, a former player at North Carolina State, is the starting power forward for Los Angeles and one of the primary scoring options for the D-Fenders. Costner is one of the best scorers in the D-League regardless of position, averaging 21.4 PPG this season. Costner has the range to consistently make three pointers and can be deadly from deep at times. In addition, Costner is extremely versatile as he can play both PF, C, an even SF, although his natural positions are the 4 and 5.
His weaknesses are that he is an inconsistent rebounder, as he only averages 5.2 rebounds per contest, his post defense has room for improvement, and Costner is not very built as he is 6’9″ but only 235 pounds, relatively small for the center position in particular.
However, as aforementioned, Costner is a prolific scorer for the D-Fenders and he should definitely be followed throughout tonight’s game.
Elijah Millsap (SG): Millsap is the starting shooting guard Los Angeles and he possesses on of the better all-around abilities throughout the D-League. Millsap averages roughly 20 PPG, 6 RPG, and 3 APG. Millsap is very consistent from mid-range althoughconsistency on his three pointer still needs work.
If the name sounds familiar, it should be as Elijah Millsap is the brother of Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap, who happens to be a highly sought after forward by the Los Angeles Lakers organization.
The UAB product Elijah Millsap is decent on defense but he needs to improve his effeciency as far as distributing goes, as well as his game-by-game consistency. Although Millsap is not a call-up candidate because future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant is occupying the position for the Lakers, he is an intriguing prospect to watch not only tonight, but going forward.
Gerald Green (SF/SG): Yes, this is the Gerald Green, the former Boston Celtics forward and NBA journeyman. As of what Green is up to now, he is a spot starter for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, sharing time with the aforementioned Elijah Millsap. Green was cut by four NBA teams including Boston largely for his inconsistency on the NBA level although he has a plethora of raw talent.
Green is averaging roughly 20 points and 5 assists per game this Developmental League season, including a 34 point effort against the Boston Celtics affiliated Maine Red Claws during the NBA Development League Showcase in January. Although his call-up prospects are relatively low as of now because of Matt Barnes’ resurgence, look for Gerald Green to make a return to the NBA if Barnes is afflicted with an injury for an extended period of time.
Coverage Note: In order to access NBA Futurecast, go to http://NBA.com/dleague and click on “Futurecast” by the scoreboard at the right side of the screen. Then just click on the Austin-Los Angeles game to watch the Austin Toros play the Los Angeles D-Fenders at the Toyota Sports Center live at 6:30 PM PT!