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D-League Draft: Intriguing NBA Draft Eligible Prospects

The NBA D-League Draft has turned into an option for NBA prospects who might not follow the same career trajectory as most draftees, with six prospects being selected in the NBA Draft via the D-League avenue over the last 10 years. Of those six, Mike Taylor, P.J. Hairston and Glen Rice Jr. were dismissed from their respective schools. Two prospects, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Chu Chu Maduabum, were international prospects who gained their first professional experience in the United States and NBA D-League. Latavious Williams is the lone high school prospect to go the D-League route, as the draft-eligible age for the D-League is 18 instead of the NBA’s 19-year old limit.

The Delaware 87ers used the fifth overall pick in the NBA D-League draft on point guard Rysheed Jordan; the talented lead guard (and once a projected lottery pick) will get to stay close to home and play professionally. It’s possible he becomes a first-round pick with a solid season for the 87ers in 2016. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, he has great size for the point guard position. Jordan uses his 6-8.25 wingspan to play the passing lanes on defense (1.8 steals) although he struggled to finish at the rim during his freshman year (59.6 percent per hoop-math.com).

Jordan shot the ball well for a freshman point guard, making 36.5 percent of his three-pointers while netting a decent-but-improvable 35.5 percent on two-point jumpers (per hoop-math.com). He has an excellent first step and has great speed in the open floor, but needs to learn to hone that speed and play at different paces. His point guard abilities lack, though,  as he turned it over 93 times last season while totalling 95 assists. The Philadelphia-native will have to improve from the free throw line as well because shooting 65.7 percent is not very good for a point guard.

With additional weight added to his frame, Jordan should turn into a very good defender of point guards at the highest level with his combination of speed and quickness. It’d also help him finish at the rim easier, improving his overall game while helping him adjust to the physicality at the NBA level. But his value to the NBA begins with improving on the offensive end, and he will have to show growth, both  in playing point guard and his overall offensive game to become a draft pick next June.

Luckily, time is on Jordan’s side as he showcases his talents for a year at the D-League level, where scouts will have their eyes on him as he prepares for the NBA draft. Although he is a year old for his class (now 21 as a would-be college sophomore), there’s still plenty of room for growth as his game and body mature playing for the 87ers.

The Austin Spurs — San Antonio’s affiliate — selected Jean Victor Nguidjol with the 16th pick in the first round of the 2015 NBA D-League Draft. Nguidjol is a 6-foot-10 big man from Yaounde, Cameroon, and has excellent fluidity and athleticism from what I’ve seen on from video, and there’s not much information out there about him right now.

He most recently played for Lyceum of the Philippines University and has participated in the Luc Mbah a Moute Basketball Camp held in Cameroon. And the Spurs have some of the top international scouts in the NBA. If they’re were willing to give him a shot, it’s safe to say they like his potential to develop into something down the line.

The D-League is just another route for top talent to make their way to the NBA, and it should be fun to watch both Nguidjol and Jordan develop as they look to impress teams on their way to the NBA. Jordan’s NBA outlook is far brighter than Nguidjol’s — Jordan might be the most talented draft eligible prospect ever to take the D-League route — and it won’t be long before even more talented and noteworthy prospects follow his footsteps as the league continues to grow in both revenue and popularity.

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