Happy New(ish) Year, Mavs Moneyball readers! While the Mavericks continue their battle to crawl out of the bottom half of the Western Conference, your Texas Legends have been putting on an impressive season thus far. The Legends are currently tied for fifth in the D-League Western Conference, with a record of 12-10. There have been a few standout performers thus far, especially Manny Harris and Jameel Warney. Let’s take a look at their seasons.
In our Texas Legends pre-season roster breakdown, we noted Manny Harris’ NBA potential, and in the first month of the D-League season, Harris has not disappointed. Looking at the numbers, Harris is clearly important to this team. He currently averages right around 27 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game, leading the team in rebounds and now, with Pierre Jackson going up to the Mavs, in scoring.
Harris’ true value in this team comes from his offensive prowess. The Legends are the fourth best offensive team in the league with 109.1 points per 100 possessions. Harris currently has an offensive efficiency of 112 points per 100 possessions, making him a key cog in this high-powered Legends offense. He scores off the ball and is highly involved in the team’s offense. He’s also had games of both 49 and 47 points in the last month.
Harris reminds me of a bigger Monta Ellis. Both are undersized, ball-dominant off guards and both do their work on drives and quick cuts to the basket. Neither of them shoot the three that well (Harris shoots around 35 percent compared to Ellis at 31 percent), but because they are so dangerous driving the ball, defenses tend to sag off them, opening up good looks at from deep. And while both have their defensive deficiencies, they make up for it with quick hands and ability to jump in the passing lanes (Harris and Ellis both average approximately 2.5 steals a game).
If it weren’t for the outstanding performance of Pierre Jackson, Harris very well might have earned a spot on this Mavericks roster.
One of the more intriguing stories of the Legends’ season has been the emergence of Jameel Warney. Listed at 6’7, Warney came in undersized for his traditional big man skill set but has proven to be a force on the offensive glass. He’s averaging roughly 15 points and seven rebounds a game, including an impressive three offensive rebounds.
What is truly impressive about Warney is that he scores mostly off second chances and with his back to the basket. He has three or four post moves he feels comfortable with and also uses his speed to spin around post defenders and get easy buckets.
Warney’s value to this team is clear; when he plays poorly, the Legends play poorly. In losses this season, Warney is averaging a minus-8.6 compared to plus-14.7 in Legends’ wins. While it remains to be seen whether Warney’s size and skill set can translate to a much bigger and faster NBA game, his first month with the Legends has been extremely impressive.
- In his short stint with the Legends, Pierre Jackson sure did make an impression. The former Baylor Bear averaged 29/5/6 a game and quickly earned a call up to the Mavs, where he has played well in a small sample size. This should come to no surprise as Jackson once set an NBA D-League single-game scoring record with 58 points while playing for the Idaho Stampede. Coincidentally, this performance came against your Texas Legends in 2014.
- Kyle Collinsworth, a late roster cut during training camp, has filled the stat sheet in his time with the Legends. The former BYU standout has averages of 7.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 27 minutes per game.
- The Legends acquired former Spurs (and most recently Wizards) guard Gary Neal for a third-round draft pick in the 2017 D-League draft.
- Former Mav and Legend Quincy Acy signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets early last week.
- The Legends have replaced Quincy Acy with NBA journey man and former Mav, DeJuan Blair. Blair last played in China.