Along with the rest of the NBA D-League, the Texas Legends begin their season tonight. Thanks to the ever-changing nature of D-League rosters, the Legends bring back only three players from last year's squad (although Ricky Ledo will likely join the team next week when the team plays their first home games of the year and play much of his season in Frisco).
As is their modus operandi, the Legends have filled their roster with grizzled veterans who have been out of the league for years and some young, promising project players. Here's everything you should know about their final roster.
Maverick training camp cuts
James, cut by the Mavericks to make room for Charlie Villanueva, was voted the best center in the D-League in Ridiculous Upside's annual D-League GM/Coach survey. If you'll remember, in the one game that James spent down in Frisco last year, the 29 year old had 38 points on 18-of-20 shooting with 18 rebounds and four blocks. While Sarge would like to get a big league call-up at some point this season, he's still making the guaranteed $900,000 from his offseason Mavericks contract.
The Summer League standout plays fun basketball. A lot of basketball players can jump high, but Griffin practically soars, using his long strides to get close to the rim and his leaping ability to finish over the top. He blocks shots, always seems to be in place for offensive rebounds and is a hustle play expert. This season, he needs to improve his jump shooting and ball handling, but he's only 24. He still has got some time.
The sweet-shooting Kentucky grad couldn't do enough to knock off Ricky Ledo from the Mavericks roster, but he'll get the starting nod at shooting guard for the Legends this season. Whatever the case, we know he'll always have a fantastic Twitter account.
Togashi won't start the season with the Legends, but he should join the team a couple weeks in. He should be a fun player to watch, even without any hope of an NBA future.
Yes, Mike James is back. This is not a joke. Now 39, he'll start at point guard for the squad.
The former Knicks first round pick is attempting an NBA comeback with the Legends. The 30-year-old played 221 games over six seasons, but hasn't suited up for an NBA team since 2012. He did make an appearance in the Mavericks training camp roster last year, but ultimately got the axe. He'll start in the frontcourt next to Sarge.
In a mid-season trade last year, the Legends swapped Devin Ebanks for Damion James, two players who absolutely dominate the D-League. In 14 games to end the season, James averaged 21.1 points on 46 percent shooting while showing off a 3-point shot (20-of-45) he didn't have earlier in his career when he was first drafted by the Nets. James will join the other two James, Lamb and Balkman as Najera's likely starting five for the squad tonight.
On a squad full of fun players, Woodfox is right up there. He's a small, streak shooting guard who has never been introduced to a 3-pointer which he didn't immediately love. He was one of the two Legends (P.J. Hairston) to compete in the D-League 3-point competition last year, and averaged 4.4 a game in 19 minutes a game for the Legends, hitting 47 percent of them. I'm personally glad to have him back.
The 6-foot-4 guard shot the ball well (51 percent from the field) but didn't do much else last season, averaging just 16 minutes in his 39 games.
The rest of the team
You won't know the next three guys but you might have heard of Samhan, who played for the Mavericks' Summer League roster in 2012. He's a polished big man with a good back-to-the-basket game, but was never quick or athletic enough to make the leap to the NBA. He spent the last few years in Europe, but it should be fun to see him on this roster. Bill Simmons was a vocal fan of his in Vegas that year.
This is not the prized UNC recruit who is projected as a first round 2016 draft pick by DraftExpress, but a three-year forward out of Cincinnati. He averaged 11.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks, but there's a reason he's in the D-League.
Palo missed most of his final couple seasons at Iowa State after being accused of sexual assault. Evidence was found contradicting the woman's sworn testimony and Palo is in the process of suing her for the false allegations. Hopefully, he's able to put all that behind him and focus on basketball with the Legends.
Melvin, now 32, graduated from NC State all the way back in 2004. He's traveled the world playing basketball every since, and finally has returned to the States. He's the Legends' Melvin Ely replacement, it seems -- 6-foot-9 forward, older, hopefully a strong team leader.