RENO, Nev. -- After 17 games over five days, here is one man's All-Showcase Team from the D-League's annual January extravaganza that brings every single franchise in the 17-team developmental circuit to the same city to audition for executives and scouts from all over the NBA map:
Pierre Jackson (Idaho Stampede): Jackson's NBA rights were acquired by the New Orleans Pelicans on draft night as part of the Nerlens Noel-Jrue Holiday blockbuster. D-League rules stipulate that the Pelicans are thus the only NBA team that can call Jackson up this season unless they deal the No. 42 overall pick before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. And that's the only reason Jackson, one of the best D-League scorers in recent memory and a ton of fun to watch at this level, isn't already in the NBA. (At least until losing Holiday to a stress fracture in his right leg Friday, New Orleans simply hasn’t had the roster room.) Yet you can rest assured that Jackson will be in the big time eventually. And then you’ll see a small scorer in the mold of Nate Robinson or Earl Boykins -- realistically more Boykins than Robinson -- who’ll have to navigate the same challenges those two faced in terms of hooking on with the sort of team (and coach) that can live with his size and embrace his score-first mentality.
Seth Curry (Santa Cruz Warriors): The case could be made that Curry, who only played once at the Showcase after the Memphis Grizzlies decided against signing him to a 10-day contract earlier in the week, should cede this spot to someone who played in both of his team’s Showcase games. Rio Grande Valley’s Troy Daniels, Los Angeles’ Manny Harris, Fort Wayne’s Ron Howard and Springfield’s Darius Johnson-Odom were all considered strongly as a result. But we ultimately couldn't resist the near triple-double Curry assembled in an entertaining win against the best team in the league to take down Daniels’ 14-3 Vipers. Arriving late the night before, after the disappointment of finding out that the Griz no longer had a spot for him, Curry totaled 27 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds at lunchtime Thursday to lead the way against RGV.
Devin Ebanks (Texas Legends): Ebanks’ name is routinely volunteered by NBA executives and scouts -- as the first or, at worst, second choice -- when you press them for D-League names we can bank on seeing called up. Every day that he’s still in Texas -- ever since Jan. 6 rolled around and NBA teams were able to offer 10-day deals -- is regarded as not just a blessing but a surprise by the Eduardo Najera-coached Legends, who figured their top scorer would have been long gone by now. Said one Ebanks fan scouting in Reno this week: “He’s already been in the NBA and he does everything better than he used to.” Said another admirer: “[Ebanks] is a long, athletic, 3-pointer shooter who has NBA experience. Who’s not lookin’ for that?”
James Nunnally (Bakersfield Jam): In a Showcase rarity, no player attending the 2014 edition got a 10-day callup to the NBA while the event was actually taking place. Nunnally, though, came as close as you could get when word began to circulate Friday, in the immediate aftermath of the Showcase, that the Atlanta Hawks are poised to make him this season’s 11th player summoned from the D-League. Atlanta’s expected signing of Nunnally to a 10-day deal this weekend is reason in itself to give him this slot, but the fact that his long-distance shooting has noticeably improved sealed the deal. The 6-foot-7 swingman, who recently told RidiculousUpside.com that he models himself after former San Antonio defensive specialist (and current ESPN analyst) Bruce Bowen, shot a Bowenesque 8-for-14 on 3-pointers in his two Showcase appearances to supplement his usual defensive presence on the perimeter.
Jarvis Varnado (Iowa Energy): It’s never easy for big men to snag the spotlight in this environment, but the 6-foot-9 Heat alumnus -- who does have to play plenty of center for Iowa -- delivered two eye-catching performances. Varnado racked up 12 points, 8 boards and 7 blocks in the Energy’s opening win over Bakersfield, then mustered a 25-point outburst to go with his 12 boards and three blocks in a win over Springfield and one of the D-League’s bigger front lines. The reality, though, is that Varnado had to be good twice in Reno to hold off two worthy challengers who possess more NBA experience and also enjoyed excellent weeks: Melvin Ely and Ike Diogu. There were likewise plenty of raves for Santa Cruz 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon, who had a brief stint with the Golden State Warriors in November and seems destined to return to the NBA before long.
PS -- We didn't intentionally try to exclude NBA assignees from ESPN.com’s All-Showcase squad, but that’s the way it worked out. Minnesota’s Shabazz Muhammad (Iowa) and the San Antonio duo of Nando de Colo and Malcolm Thomas (both with Austin) were the standouts in that category.