Takeaways From the Grand Rapids Drive First Six Games
Through the first six games of the Grand Rapids Drive season, they stand at 3-3. They are playing .500 ball, but for a team with many new players, they are in a good position. Their first six games have been filled with highs and lows, but we have learned a few things about this team so far in the young D-League season.
Ray McCallum is an NBA Player
Ray McCallum was waived by the Detroit Pistons before the season began. Now he is with the Grand Rapids Drive and he is completely dominating the NBA D-League. He is the number one prospect on the D-League’s call up board, over players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Vander Blue, and Briante Weber. McCallum has been nothing short of fantastic this year, averaging 20.0 points, 8.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. He is also leading the Drive in minutes played per game at 38.8 per contest. McCallum is capitalizing on the opportunity he has been given with the Drive.
“Whatever we get from him is a bonus because he’s an NBA guard,” head coach of the Drive Rex Walters told me in a recent interview. “I really hope he gets an opportunity because he deserves it.”
In the Drive’s last game against the Long Island Nets, McCallum played nearly 42 minutes, scoring 27 points, dishing out nine dimes, and corralling eight rebounds in the win. He shot 10-17 from the field.
McCallum is clearly an NBA caliber player. He could find himself on an NBA roster soon if he continues to light up the D-League the way he has in the Drive’s first six games.
Kevin Murphy Might be an NBA Player too
Kevin Murphy was not with the Drive at the beginning if the season, but since joining the club he’s proven to be a huge piece for the talented team. In four games Murphy is averaging 26.2 points per game. He is leading the Drive in scoring. He is doing so in a very efficient way as well. He is shooting 48.4% from the field, 39% from the three-point line, and 80.6% from the free throw line. Murphy’s scoring ability has been crucial for the Drive. He also has been used as an undersized power forward at times for a team that lacks height. He is ranked 22nd on the D-League Prospect Board.
Murphy is a former second round pick by the Utah Jazz. He will continue to be a huge piece for the Drive but his offensive versatility might earn him an NBA call-up at some point this season. If not, the Drive are lucky to have him.
Defense is an Issue
The Grand Rapids Drive can score the ball, but they’re 3-3 because they allow their opponents to score at a high rate. The Drive are allowing nearly 111 points per game, including giving up 121 points to the Canton Charge. They have kept opponents under 105 points just two times this season. That has to change in order for the Drive to be one of the better teams in the D-League. At times they can be locked in on defense. They allowed just 98 points to the Long Island Nets yesterday. That is not great, but compared to their other performances it is better.
Walters told me after the Drive’s first game of the season that defense was somewhere they needed to improve. So far, the defense has been bad an improvement has not been there. The season is still young which means there is time, but improvement needs to come soon.
Nikola Jovanovic suffered a leg injury against the Iowa Energy on November 23rd. He has missed the last two games. I’ve been told that Jovanovic’s injury is not major and he should be considered day-to-day.
Jordan Crawford played two minutes in yesterday’s game against the Nets. I was told that he came out of the game due to back stiffness and it was done as a precautionary measure. The Drive expect him to play in their next game on Tuesday versus the Delaware 87ers.
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