I have always wondered about team chemistry in the D-league. There aren't many people watching, for one thing. If anyone plays really well, they're gone. If anyone get hurt, they're cut. Players can also be playing really well, and lose a mess of playing time to someone sent down by the NBA.
Not to mention, most D-League teams have players from rival NBA clubs playing side by side, which is odd.
And no one makes any money, which could be good for team-building, except that sometimes players arrive making NBA money, and staying in nicer hotels than the rest of the team. How messed up is that?
Add to that a high percentage of the roster is in the process of getting the news, for the first time in their lives, that they may not have what it takes to make it in the NBA.
Contracts in the D-League are not guaranteed. Sprain an ankle, pack your bag. The first day of Jam training camp, Harrick told his players, "I'll be frank with you: None of your jobs are safe. None of 'em."
Maybe that's why when Bobbitt twists an ankle Thursday night, writhing in pain, a minute later, he is begging his way back into the game.
Thursday morning, the Jam bring in a new player, [former Net and Bobcat Tamar] Slay. He just walked out of a seven-figure multiyear contact in Greece so he could play here and take a shot at returning to the NBA. To make room, Harrick has to cut a player, telling him gently, "Go get a job, son. You can't play in this league."
The Jam's best NBA prospect (other than O'Bryant) is 6-11 center-forward Kevinn Pinkney, who lacks NBA big-guy muscle but is quick and clever and puts up nice numbers. It's easy to imagine Pinkney getting a shot in The League, especially under a creative coach of the Don Nelson ilk.
But most of these Bakersfield players are straight dreamers, like backup point guard Andre McCollum, who is 31 and a local guy (CSU Bakersfield) who won his roster spot at an open tryout.
The D-League dreamers read the papers. The Warriors have just signed D-League star Kelenna Azubuike, who was playing for the Fort Worth Flyers and almost immediately Azubuike is in the Warriors' starting lineup. Stunning.
The Jam started their season 1-7, climbed to 5-7 and are 5-8 as of Thursday morning. The arrival of O'Bryant is a mixed blessing. He's probably going to be a force in this league, which features few quality big men. But Bakersfield team chemistry is in for a re-mix, and O'Bryant will suck up precious playing time and stats.
Pinkney, leading the Jam in scoring and rebounding, diplomatically tells the Bakersfield Californian, "(O'Bryant) should help me a little bit. Teams will have to worry about him ..."