This season, we'll primarily be covering the Bakersfield Jam in weekly reviews like this one, where we cover the news from the team in small snippets.
Dawson, Wilcox Assigned to Jam with Flex Rule
The Jam received their first NBA Assignees of the season when Branden Dawson and C.J. Wilcox were assigned to the D-League by the LA Clippers. Because the Clippers do not have their own team in the D-League, they made use of the flex assignment provision, which allows them to assign players to any willing team. The Jam, who are geographically close and unlikely to see assignment by their solo affiliate at this point, went ahead and accepted.
Dawsen is likely the player to watch of the two. The undersized rookie PF out of Michigan State was utility player for Tom Izzo. The knock on him going into the draft was that he was a 'tweener forward that had never developed an outside shot, so look for him to be gunning and trying to get a feel for it in his time with the Jam.
Wilcox is in his second season with the Clippers. The wing player played sparingly for the Clippers last season, getting just under 100 minutes of court time on the season scattered across 21 games. However, he was solid in the Orlando Summer League this year, and will be trying to build upon that in the D-League.
Opening Night Roster Finalized
As a reminder, the D-League roster system does not work exactly like the NBA system. There aren't 'free agents' in the same way we would think of them. A player is only a free agent if their contract has been placed on waivers, otherwise it is considered 'inactive', and can be activated later in the season. That being said, here is the roster the Jam have put together for opening night:
|33||Javier Carter||F||6-8||225||5/20/91||S Alabama||Draft|
|22||Derek Cooke Jr.||F||6-9||220||8/23/91||Wyoming||Local Tryout|
|20||Branden Dawson||F||6-6||225||2/1/93||Michigan St||NBA Assignee|
|7||Renaldo Major||G||6-6||210||5/7/82||Fresno St||Returning|
|15||LaQuentin Miles||G||6-5||190||3/12/91||Central Arkansas||Returning|
|5||Xavier Munford||G||6-3||180||6/1/92||Rhode Island||Returning|
|23||Terrico White (I)||G||6-5||215||3/7/90||Ole Miss||Affiliate|
|21||CJ Wilcox||G||6-5||195||12/30/90||Washington||NBA Assignee|
The most glaring thing about this roster is the lack of a center of any kind. D-League teams do tend to play small ball more frequently than their NBA counterparts, but it is unusual for a team to carry no centers. Look to see a lot of Earl Clark in the middle.
Bakersfield Jam vs. Santa Cruz Warriors
The Jam's first game of the season came against the defending champion Santa Cruz Warriors. While the Warriors saw as much roster turnover as anyone, and likely won't benefit nearly as much from NBA assignments this season, they're still a formidable team and considered by many to have a decent shot at repeating as D-League Champions.
With their first game of the season, the Warriors were out to prove why they are considered such a talented team. Led by Darington Hobson (19 pts, 11 rbds, 8 assts), Elliot Williams (23 points, 7 rbds, 3 stls) and Daniel Orton (22 pts, 4 rbds, 2 blks), the Warriors beat up on the Jam. The Jam were exposed inside, with Orton in particular getting whatever he wanted against the Jam's malleable men in the middle.
Perhaps the biggest problem for the Jam was poor shooting. Other than CJ Wilcox, who led the team with 22 points on 8/14 shooting, the rest of the team shot pretty abysmally. Earl Clark was 6/16, Branden Dawson 5/15, Xavier Munford 1/4, Deonte Burton 3/8. The team shooting percentage was just 40%. It wasn't as bad from beyond the arc, with the team hitting 7/22, led by Wilcox (3/7) and Clark (2/5).
Rebounding and ball security were also major struggles. The team was out-rebounded, 51 to 40, and a decent amount of that discrepancy came from a big gap in offensive rebounds. The team gave away too many steals (14) leading to fast break points, though they managed to keep the turnover margin even.
The final score, Warriors 104, Jam 87. A pretty accurate reflection of what was not the closest D-League game you'll ever see.