All-Star weekend sees the NBA D-League‘s best join the party in Toronto with the NBA, so here’s a report card on the Grand Rapids Drive through the first half of the season.

With their record at 15-14, the Drive are in 3rd place in the Central Division and 6th in the Eastern Conference, trailing Canton by 2 games for a playoff spot. Coach Otis Smith has maneuvered his fluctuating roster throughout the season as players have come and go between the parent club Detroit Pistons’ roster, the injury report, the waiver wire and overseas market.


 

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Mid-Season Report Card:

 

 


The Players: What have you done for me lately? (Drive record while on roster) Grade


  • Henry Sims – Replacing Willie Reed and Hasheem Thabeet in the middle for the Drive has been no easy task, but Sims is averaging 14.0 points and 8.2 rebounds despite a lack of help on the boards. In 27 games, he’s shooting 55% from the floor. (13-14) B-

  • Lorenzo Brown – The Drive’s best guard was called up by the Phoenix Suns and signed to consecutive 10-day contracts before returning to GR. Brown is averaging 16.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 18 games including three consecutive games with 12 assists in December. (10-8) B

  • Dahntay Jones – Defense. Toughness. Veteran leadership. Jones has averaged 13.5 points over 22 games with GR, but bringing the muscle is his go-to move. (13-9) B-

  • Kelsey Barlow – One of the fan favorites and holdover from last season, Barlow is averaging 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 27 games for the Drive, shooting 39.5% from the field and 35.2% on 3FGA. (15-12) C+

  • Xavier Ford – Recorded a season-high 12 points December 19, 2015 vs. Iowa. Ford has averaged 2.4 points over 9.2 minutes over 20 games. (12-8) C

  • Ismael Romero – After spending the first 22 games out of the lineup due to injury, the Cuban-born Romero has averaged 4.2 points over the last 7 games. (4-3) C

  • Dallin Bachynski – Best known for his smile, Dallin has averaged 1.9 points over the last 11 games. Is he doing what Thabeet did last year off the bench? No. (5-6) D

  • Devin Ebanks – The best player and heart and soul of this year’s team is averaging 21.0 points and 7.7 rebounds in 29 games, has 10 double-doubles. Set the franchise scoring-record with 43 points against Maine on January 18, 2016. 45% FG/76% FT/36% 3FG shooting splits. This team needs him on the floor.  A+

  • Kammeon Holsey – Holsey has averaged 7.2 points in 18.9 minutes per game, playing in all 29 games. Halsey seems to have taken a step back from last year, but that has more to do with the rotation than the talent. (15-14) B-

  • Derrick Nix – Nix has spent more time on the inactive roster than on the bench or the floor. His 0.7 points in 2.7 minutes while dressed for 3 games in nothing to advertise. (2-1) F

  • Gary Talton – Averaging 7.3 points and 4.9 assists in 10 games since arriving after arriving via trade for Sam Thompson, Talton scored 10 points and recorded 14 assists on February 10, 2016 vs. Erie. (5-5) B+

  • Ralston Turner – Turner has played 17 minutes over 2 games with Grand Rapids since signing. (0-2) Incomplete

 


Players not with the Drive who’ve spent time in Grand Rapids this season:


  • Brandon Jennings – Pistons guardcored 21 points and dished out 11 assists during 1-game rehab stint. (1-0) A
  • Spencer Dinwiddie – Pistons assignee averaged 14.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 13 games. (7-6) A
  • Darren Hilliard – Pistons assignee averaged 25.7 points, shooting 44% from 3-point range in 3 games. (2-1) A
  • Adonis Thomas – Averaged 5.o points in 2 games before injury. (1-1) Incomplete
  • Ashton Pitts – Averaged 1.o point in 2 games. (1-1) F
  • Brendan Dawson – LA Clippers assignee averaged 6.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, shot 46 % in 15 games. (8-7) C+
  • Reggie Bullock – 29 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals vs. Iowa, 12/19/16. 10-of-13 FGM, 6-of-8 3FGM. (1-10) A+
  • Ryan Boatright – 11 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists in 20 games before signing in Italy. (10-10) B-
  • Sam Thompson – 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 16 games before being traded. (8-8) C
  • Stefhon Hannah – Averaged 5.1 points over 16 minutes in 9 games. (4-5) D

The Coach and The Front Office:

  • Coach Otis Smith – Smith’s work in his second season has shown growth in player development and his familiarity with the system is evident, but only Brown has received an NBA Call-Up. (15-14) C+

  • The Front Office – Steve Jbara and Jon Phelps are helping the Detroit Pistons find ways to use the D-League affiliate: getting borderline NBA talent(Ebanks, Sims, Jones), as a rehab stint(Jennings), getting playing time for the young kids(Dinwiddie, Hilliard and Bullock) and growing the fanbase by keeping some talent around from last year’s squad(Brown, Barlow and Holsey). The moves to keep the team competitive with all the movement in the league show their commitment to a winning product. Fans have enjoyed the River City Sundays, $1 Beer Nights and the access they have to the team after the games and in the community. Getting this team in an arena downtown should be a high priority. A-

Since the beginning, from the Jennings rehab game, which included visits from Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and players Reggie Jackson and NBA All-Star Andre Drummond, to the Drive’s custom-jersey takeover nights that benefit local non-profit organizations such as the Van Andel Institute and GR Urban League, the Drive have been a huge success for West Michigan sports fans and a great new community partner during the 2015-16 season. A+

 

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