For players in the NBA Development League, the primary idea of the seventh annual D-League Showcase is to get noticed.

How they do that could determine whether they move on to the NBA, or stay in the D-League.

Individual efforts are good, but team play is more important.

“As a former NBA guy, I know NBA guys are looking at how players play together,” said Jon Jennings, the president and general manager of the Maine Red Claws. “If a player wanted to come and put up 30 every game at the exclusion of his teammates, that would be a problem.

“This is (the players’) opportunity to show what they can do in the context of a team environment. It’s essentially a four-day job interview for the NBA.”

The NBA D-League Showcase, held at the South Padre Island (Texas) Convention Center, began Monday and continues through Wednesday. The Red Claws (9-11) play the New Mexico Thunderbirds at 5:30 p.m. today and the Reno Bighorns at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in a game that can be seen on NBATV.

Maine, 2-8 on the road this year, has lost two in a row and 4 of 5. Coach Austin Ainge said after last Friday’s 93-70 loss to the Dakota Wizards that he hopes the team can come together soon.

“I hope we can play as a team, despite all the individual attention these guys want,” he said. “They will all look better when we have team success.”

Since Jan. 5, NBA teams have been able to sign D-League players to 10-day contracts. The Showcase is where players have the best chance to attract attention. Scouts from all 30 NBA teams will be there.

Jennings hopes the Red Claws can get back to playing the kind of basketball that made them successful earlier.

“We’ve got to get back to playing team defense,” he said. “We’ve really got to step it up defensively. And we’ve got to push the ball offensively.”

The undersized Red Claws are at their best when they push the ball offensively or pass it around quickly. Their outside shooting has also faltered.

“Our fans deserve a competitive team, certainly that’s what we look for,” said Jennings. “It’s not as if we don’t have talent. We have talent, we proved that earlier in the season. Now we need to get back to doing the little things.”


Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]


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