SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tex. – The 2011 NBA Development Showcase came to an end Thursday and D-League president Dan Reed proclaimed the four-day event another success. The seventh annual Showcase was also the first in Texas.
“We had an all-time high in credentials issued for NBA scouts with 93, we had great games and the best talent we’ve ever seen in the NBA Development League,” Reed said. “We’re on a record pace for assigned players, both quality and quantity.
“The only thing that was a little disappointing was it was a little chilly by South Padre standards, but compared to the 12 inches of snow in New York we’re pretty good with it.”
The 16 teams in the D-League each competed in two games during the week at the South Padre Island Convention. Every game was broadcast live, including 10 on NBA TV and another on VERSUS.
“We’ve never had a bigger platform, not only here in South Padre, but around the country and around the world,” Reed added.
The Showcase also introduced dunk and 3-point contests for the first time. Both events are airing on tape-delay on VERSUS on Jan. 15 and Jan. 29. The 3-point event included such new ideas as shooting from distances several feet beyond the arc and a full “money-ball” rack.
Reed said those changes may be discussed at the NBA level.
“We’re always interested in trying new things,” Reed said. “We have a great slam dunk and 3-point contests at NBA All-Star weekend and in our conversations with VERSUS, we mutually agreed that there was great interest in doing an additional event here to accentuate the Showcase.”
South Padre Island is in the running to host the Showcase again next year, and Reed said the evaluation for next year’s event will be soon. Dallas Mavericks general manager and Texas Legends co-owner Donnie Nelson said he would be interested in bringing the Showcase to the Dallas area in the future.
Players also took part in clinics for area schools and community organizations, as well as several life-skills seminars.
The level of competition continues to improve with each passing year, according to the NBA personnel people in attendance this week. NBA teams have assigned 24 players already this season — more than last year — and including 13 first-round picks, with five from the lottery.
“Every year it gets better, absolutely” Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. “Dan Reed and [D-League vice president] Chris Alpert do a great job. It’s getting closer every year to be a true minor league like baseball. It just keeps getting better.”
ALDRICH ON ASSIGNMENT: Oklahoma City first-round pick Cole Aldrich is already on his second assignment with the Tulsa 66ers and is appreciative of his opportunity in the D-League. The 6-foot-11 center went into Thursday averaging 8.6 points and 7.8 rebounds.
“The talent down here is really high,” Aldrich said. “Guys are fighting every day to try to get that call up. With our team we have a great group of guys and it makes it even more fun to go out there and compete.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks and his staff send Aldrich to Tulsa with marking orders. Oklahoma City owns the 66ers, so the system and terminology are the same for both squads.
“Just to continue to play hard, get that experience and work on the things I need to work on,” said Aldrich, a product of Kansas. “Defensively I really need to keep improving, because that’s one of my strengths right now.”
Aldrich is one five NBA players currently on assignment. The others are Pape Sy (Atlanta), Dexter Pittman (Miami), Jeremy Lin (Golden State) and Hamady N’Diaye (Washington). Aldrich isn’t sure when he’s headed back to the NBA, but that’s ok.
“Whenever my time is right,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to work hard and have fun.”