FORT WAYNE – The Mad Ants will be in Reno, Nev., today through Wednesday for the D-League Showcase, an annual event in which the league’s teams are on display for NBA scouts at the same venue.
The vibe at games can be different though, since sometimes selfish interests take over as players try to demonstrate they belong in the NBA.
The key for the Mad Ants will be making sure they concentrate on winning games instead of winning NBA contracts.
With some teams, you see guys trying to do things they haven’t done all season, trying to impress the scouts, Fort Wayne’s Ron Howard said. But we have a veteran team, so I’m not worried about any of that. Most of these guys have played in showcases before, so they understand that the scouts know what we can do anyway and there’s no sense trying to do that windmill dunk when you can’t pull it off.
Just stay within yourself. It’s just another opportunity for us to continue to try and get these wins.
The Mad Ants (7-7) play today against Santa Cruz (10-6), take on Texas (9-5) at 12:35 a.m. Wednesday in the abridged makeup of a protested game from Nov. 22, and face off against Tulsa (3-13) on Wednesday night.
The D-League Showcase isn’t just about unaffiliated players trying to catch on with NBA clubs, though. It’s a place where trades begin, too, as NBA teams even send guys down so they can get looked at closely by other teams’ scouts.
The Mad Ants have three NBA players, all rookies: the Detroit Pistons’ Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell, and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jamaal Franklin, who will play his first game with Fort Wayne today.
No question (the atmosphere is different), Fort Wayne coach Conner Henry said. The intensity level is (higher) by however many percentages you want to call it. Everybody realizes the importance of being seen. A lot of NBA teams send guys there to be scouted and try to trade them. Everybody is under the microscope. But it’s a good atmosphere and a good building and you can watch basketball all day, which is good for us coaches.
It’s also a chance for coaches in the D-League to assess teams they don’t often see. For instance, the Mad Ants will get to scout Bakersfield, which they play for the first time Feb. 12 at Memorial Coliseum.
The Mad Ants hope to have the other Tony Mitchell, the D-League’s reigning Rookie of the Year, in the lineup this week. After beginning the season in China, he needs clearance from FIBA, the international basketball federation, before returning to the Fort Wayne lineup.
The showcase is different because you have a lot of scouts there, that Tony Mitchell said. But it’s the same as it is here in (Fort Wayne in) the respect that you have to take care of business. That’s all we’re worried about.