NBA Old-Timers Using the D-League to Attempt a Comeback
Just like Crash Davis did in Bull Durham, veterans of any and all sports may sometimes use the minor leagues to try and get back to the professional level. The NBA is no exception, as the D-League serves many purposes. Undrafted youngsters may go there to hone their skills before taking the next step, or veterans like Troy Hudson (pictured) may play there in hopes of one final shot at making an impact in the pros.
This season, there are a good number of old-timers in the D-League. They all vary in age, and all have made an impact in the NBA in some way, shape or form. Yet, for some reason or another, they find themselves on the outside looking in and itching to get back to that level.
Based on certain NBA teams' needs and the way these veterans have played in the D-League thus far, we may or may not see them on the top level one last time. If you ask me, that is an absolute must for some of these players.
They may not be superstars, but these men definitely deserve the best kind of reward for paying their dues and playing in the D-League after being phased out of the NBA. Hopefully, their efforts will soon pay off.
No. 5: Jamario Moon, Los Angeles D-Fenders
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Moon is still young at age 32 and has good size for the NBA at 6'8", 215 pounds. He played for five teams in five seasons and proved to be a solid rebounder and shot-blocker. Moon was also able to provide solid offense from time to time and holds a career three-point percentage of 33 percent.
Playing for the D-Fenders today, Moon has been doing just what he did in the NBA. He is averaging 7.5 points to go with 7.3 rebounds and has posted 2.6 blocks as well. The only mark against him is that he is shooting just 36.5 percent from the field in the D-League, which is unacceptable due to his NBA experience.
If he can get his offense under control and keep up the effort on defense, then Moon could easily find himself on a team in need of both size and defense.
Oh, and let's not forget that he can also provide some of this.
No. 4: Luther Head, Austin Toros
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Over six NBA seasons, Head was able to establish himself as a decent three-point shooter, making 39 percent of his shots from long range. Otherwise, his game was not much to write home about.
Such has been the case for him in the D-League where he has posted 9.3 points in 17.7 minutes per game for the Toros. His touch from beyond the arc has not deserted him, as he has made a respectable 36 percent of his threes.
That said, teams in need of a shooter off the bench should look into bringing Head aboard. The Phoenix Suns could definitely use some help in that department, as could the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He's still young at 30 years old, so his dreams of returning to the NBA are anything but dead if he can keep up his current rate of production in Austin.
No. 3: Rasual Butler, Tulsa 66ers
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Butler has 10 NBA seasons under his belt and is a 36 percent three-point shooter, but finds himself without an NBA team. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the 33-year-old is about to start playing for Tulsa in hopes of getting back to the professional level.
Though he has yet to appear in a game for the 66ers, Butler definitely deserves another shot in the league. He may not be the best defender or scorer, but the man has proven that he can be lights out from beyond the arc when he has a hot hand.
Throw in the years of experience he has, and it's going to be hard for teams to look past him come the final stretch if he performs well in the D-League.
No. 2: Melvin Ely, Texas Legends
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It's hard to look at Melvin Ely's career and not feel at least a little bad for the guy. He was selected 12th overall in the 2002 draft after four good years at Fresno State, and his 6'10", 260 pound frame made it seem as though he was well on his way to becoming a solid NBA center.
Sadly, that never happened. Be it due to either limited minutes or ineffective play, Ely was never able to make much of an impact in the league. As a result, he finds himself playing in the D-League at age 34.
However, Ely has actually looked decent as the center for the Texas Legends. He has dropped his weight to 245 pounds and is proving to be a fine presence both in the low-post and on the perimeter. In eight games, he has posted 10.3 points to go with 5.5 rebounds.
The only red flag on Ely would be his age, as the D-League is where teams often look to pick up young, under-the-radar talent. Ely is no spring chicken, but teams in the hunt for a playoff spot should still give him a look. He won a championship sitting on the bench of the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, and that experience must count for something.
He's definitely a risk, but one surely worth taking.
No. 1: Troy Hudson, Sioux Falls Skyforce
You have to hand it to Troy Hudson. He's 36 years old, hasn't played any form of professional basketball since 2008, and yet he is in the D-League looking to get back in the game.
In 11 NBA seasons, Hudson averaged nine points per game and shot 34 percent from long range. The man does not have much size at 6'1", 170 pounds, but always played with great determination and refused to back down from any battle.
He has been decent for Sioux Falls thus far. Through 12 games, all of which he has started, he has posted 11.8 points, 4.2 assists and shot 35 percent over 28.8 minutes per contest.
That all being said, the odds of Hudson's comeback ending with a call-up to the NBA are slim. He's an aging point guard whose best skill is his three-point shooting, and there are so many players like that in the league already.
Then again, there's always the chance that a team's front office will want to bring in an experienced veteran who can be some sort of leader, so perhaps there is hope for Hudson's comeback after all.