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Which 2017 Texas Legends players have NBA potential

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On the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, here’s who we could see make an NBA roster at some point soon.

Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

More and more, the D-League is growing into a true farm system for the NBA. Thirty percent of the players on an NBA roster this season played in the D-League, ranging from Tyler Johnson and Clint Capela, to JJ Barea, Hassan Whiteside and Shaun Livingston.

The Texas Legends have played two games so far this season. Let’s take a look at their roster, and see which players might have a chance to rise up to an NBA roster (the Mavericks or another team’s) at some point in the future.

David Allen

First up on this breakdown is 6’2 guard David Allen. Allen enjoyed a less than notable career at Georgetown, but is indeed a bit of a hometown hero. Allen starred at Highland Park High School, averaging just around 23 points a game his senior year before attending Georgetown. Allen was selected by the Legends in the sixth round of this year’s D-League draft. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the Legends use Allen.

Prediction: End of the bench D-League Guy

Kyle Collinsworth

Most Mavs fans will recognize Collinsworth from his time in this year’s summer league. Collinsworth came into camp as a potential dark-horse to make the Mavs roster after an impressive college career at BYU. With averages around 15 points, eight assists and eight rebounds a game, it was clear Collinsworth was able to fill the stat sheet with regularity, but also came with a lot of red flags, most notably his lateral quickness and poor jump shot. Kyle was one of the last cuts by the Mavericks this year but with his high motor and basketball IQ, expect Collinsworth to play a key role for the Texas Legends this year.

Prediction: D-League Guy

Jaleel Cousins

The Mavericks continued their strategy of signing the lesser of basketball siblings when they signed DeMarcus Cousins’ younger brother, Jaleel. Jaleel began his college career at Navarro College, just down the road from the AAC in Corsicana, before transferring to the University of South Florida for his junior year. At USF, Jaleel averaged right around 9 points, nine rebounds and two blocks a game, establishing himself as a bouncy big man that could protect the paint.

It’s clear to see why the Mavs have an interest in Cousins. An athletic rim-protector has non-existent for the Mavs since the 2011 version of Tyson Chandler and Cousins certainly plays the part. Will Jaleel ever be the player his brother is? Well, no. He lacks the post moves and strength to be a regular, let alone dominant, center in the NBA. But that’s okay. The Mavs most likely signed Cousins with the hope that he could provide some high-energy rebounding and solid rim protection, which Jaleel certainly has the opportunity to do this year for the Legends.

Prediction: NBA Potential

Andre Dawkins

Andre Dawkins is one of the few returning Legends players from last year. Dawkins has been a bit of a D-League journeymen since going undrafted out of Duke in 2014. In stints with the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the Maine Red Claws, Dawkins has teetered on the fringe of an NBA roster. The Celtics gave him two 10-day contracts that ultimately ended with him being reassigned back to Maine and subsequently released. Dawkins fits the mold of your stereotypical Duke point guard: high basketball IQ, plays fundamental defense and can absolutely stroke the ball even in the nerviest of situations. But even more interesting is Dawkins’ off the court experiences, which was tragically highlighted by the loss of his sister during his time at Duke. (For a long but fascinating read about Dawkins, there’s this story.) All in all, Dawkins seems like your ideal D-League player.

Prediction: D-League Guy

Deng Deng

Deng Deng is a 6’8 versatile wing with a 7’4 wingspan. From the measurables, it is clear why NBA teams might be interested in Deng. A Sudan native who grew up in Australia, Deng made his first basketball stop in America at Lee College, just a quick 30-minute drive east from Houston. Deng was a top JUCO recruit and eventually ended up at Baylor where he played sparingly. It’s hard to see Deng making a serious push for a roster spot let alone getting a lot of playing time for the Legends but with his athleticism anything is possible.

Prediction: End of the bench D-League Guy

Jordan Downing

Arguably, the most impressive accomplishment of Jordan Downing’s game is his college career at Presbyterian College. Downing finished as Presbyterian’s all-time leader in three-pointers made and points per game average as well as finishing second in career made field goals. Downing went undrafted in 2015 and spent a year in Luxembourg before signing with the Legends. Downing’s most notable skill is his confidence. He attempts, and makes, some very difficult shots but you can tell from his highlights he feels good about every shot he takes. Downing has good technique coming off the screens but in order for him to stick at this level, he’ll need to improve his consistency — he shot just 42 percent and 35 percent from deep as a senior.

Prediction: End of the bench D-League Guy

Courtney Fells

The oldest member of the Legends squad this year is 30-year old Courtney Fells. After going undrafted out of North Carolina State in 2009, Fells became somewhat of a basketball journeyman. Fells played in Cyprus, then the Dominican Republic, then back to Cyprus, then back to the Dominican, then to Israel, Philippines, the Austin Toros, Turkey, Italy, Argentina and finally in the D-League with the Legends. Fells is a scoring, jump-shooting two-guard that has proven himself as scoring threat — with a 44-point game vs. Rio Grande Valley and 32 vs. Philadelphia 66ers. From the Legends perspective, you hope that Fells’ experience and jump shooting can carry the team offensively but in order to make the end of the Mavs’ bench Fells will need to prove he is not a defensive liability.

Prediction: NBA Potential

Bryson Fonville

The Legends selected Bryson Fonville in the fifth round of this year’s D-League Draft. Fonville started every game except one during his four-year college career at Catholic University, where he put up decent numbers of 18 points and seven assists a game. As far as we can tell, Fonville is a stand-up guy with an unrelenting motor. Although he may be undersized at 6-foot even, Fonville’s intangibles make him a candidate for any D-League team.

Prediction: End of the bench D-League guy

Manny Harris

Probably the most notable player on this Legends roster is Manny Harris. Many will remember Corperryale L'Adorable “Manny” Harris for not only his incredible birth name but also his talent. While at Michigan, Harris earned All-Big Ten team honors his entire 3-year career there. After going undrafted in 2010, Harris bounced around the NBA, D-League, and Europe. There’s no question Harris has the talent and ability to play in this league; he even stuck with the Lakers for a portion of the 2013-14 season. Harris has also put up some stunning numbers in his time in the D-League and was named an D-League All-Star in 2014. If anyone on this team has a great chance to make an NBA roster, it’s Harris. He’s a big, strong guard who can play the point or off-the-ball but really struggles keeping a consistent three-point jump shot. In the Legends’ season opener, Harris dropped 49 points on 19-of-27 shooting.

Prediction: NBA Potential

Keith Hornsby

Keith Hornsby was the first round draft pick (No. 9 overall) by the Texas Legends in this year’s D-League Draft. Keith Hornsby, son of Grammy winner Bruce Hornsby, had a fruitful career at LSU where he was a “key offensive cog” for the Tigers during his senior year. Hornsby along with other NBAers Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman were expected to lead the Tigers into the NCAA Tournament as a potential Elite Eight/Final Four dark horse — but as you probably know, that didn’t pan out. LSU finished 19-14 and missed the NCAA tournament but Hornsby will be remembered as one of the better players in the SEC that year. He’s a good shooter, but he’ll need to prove his defensive abilities with the Legends.

Prediction: D-League Guy

Patrick Miller

Patrick Miller was originally selected by the Oklahoma City Blue in the second round of last year’s D-League draft then subsequently traded to the Legends. Miller starred at Tennessee State from 2010-14, where he competed in the Golden Age of Ohio Valley Conference Basketball. (Remember when Murray State was No. 7 in the nation?!?!) In 2012, a 23-0 Murray State team led by Isaiah Canaan lost their first and only regular season game to Tennessee State led by, yup, Patrick Miller and current Sixer Robert Covington. Again, the Golden Age of Ohio Valley Conference Basketball. For the Legends, Miller fills the role of an undersized, scoring point guard. Although Miller put up solid assists numbers (right around ive a game) in college, his best attribute is his ability to score the ball. Whether or not that skillset fits the NBA is yet to be seen, but there isn’t a whole lot of demand for a ball-dominant, undersized point guard these days. However, Miller should see a fair amount of playing time for the Legends this year.

Prediction: D-League Guy

Satnam Singh

Up next is everyone’s favorite IMG-Academy product, 7’2 Satnam Singh. When the Mavs drafted Singh with the 52nd overall pick in the 2015 draft, many figured it was as much of a business pick as it was a basketball pick. Singh was the first ever Indian born player to be drafted in the NBA and with that came a huge untapped following in India paying close attention to the NBA now more than ever before. It’s obvious to see why Cuban likes Singh, he has the potential to be formed into a bit of an NBA cult-hero. Cuban was quoted after drafting Singh saying, “The legend of Satnam Singh is beginning. We wanted a big guy. We believe in creating legends in Dallas and we certainly created a legend.”

Singh enjoyed a less than spectacular first season for the Legends that resulted in him averaging just about 2 points and 2 boards in 8 minutes a game. Singh is the project of all projects and is at least 4 years away from even being in the conversation of making an NBA roster, if he even gets to that point. Still, it is fun to root for the long shot, a persona which Singh fits to a T.

Prediction: TBD

Jameel Warney

His senior year at Stony Brook Warney put up absolutely dominating numbers, 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks a game. He led Stony Brook to their first ever NCAA appearance by scoring 43 points in a win against Vermont in the America East Conference Tournament Final. Warney was one of a handful of players who earned a partially guaranteed contract from the Mavs this off season. Warney played well in the Summer League, even outperforming A.J. Hammons at times, but still faces a long road to the NBA. At 6’7, Warney will always be undersized for his skillset.

Prediction: D-League Guy

CJ Williams

Williams played significant minutes during NC State’s Sweet Sixteen run in 2012 but went undrafted later that year. Williams spent one year with the D-League’s LA Defenders where he averaged 14.5 points a game on 50 percent shooting from the fields and 45 percent shooting from 3, something Williams did not have as a college player (never averaged more than 36 percent in college). But among a host of guards on the Legends, will any of them stand out?

Prediction: D-League Guy