The Los Angeles Lakers’ season is well underway, but their minor league team is just getting started. The Los Angeles D-Fenders participated in the NBA D-League Draft on Sunday, selecting five players (and later executing a trade) to bring their training camp roster to 17.
The D-Fenders did not have a first round pick due to their trade deadline acquisition of Jeff Ayres last season (he was called up almost immediately by the Los Angeles Clippers and only appeared in two games for the D-Fenders), but still held the 47th, 54th, 59th, 74th, and 78th overall picks in the draft. The team selected Gerald Beverly, Wally Ellenson, Jerome Seagears, Anthony January, and Dii’Jon Allen-Jordan, respectively.
Beverly is a 22-year old guard mostly known for his defense, and he averaged 2.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in six games of Eurocup play last season. Ellenson is the brother of NBA lottery pick Henry Ellenson, and averaged 1.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game during his senior season at Marquette.
Seagers made a bigger statistical impact at UNLV last season, averaging 10.3 points and 4.1 assists per game for the Runnin’ Rebels. He also shot an acceptable 34.4 percent from three-point range, but he’ll have to improve that to have more value from an NBA perspective at just 6’1.
Allen averaged a similar 10 points, three assists, and five rebounds during his senior season for the Campbellsville Tigers.
Following the draft, the D-Fenders announced that they had traded Jamal Branch and January to the Reno Bighorns, receiving David Nwaba, Kourtlin Jackson, and the returning player rights to David Wear (the brother of fellow D-Fender and Lakers training participant Travis Wear) in return, pending the results of a physical.
In addition to their new acquisitions, the D-Fenders will also bring back several key pieces from their D-League Finals run last season.
Point guard Josh Magette led the D-League in assists last season with 9.2 per game last season. Magette returns to the D-Fenders after playing for the Brooklyn Nets’ Las Vegas Summer League team and lasting until the Atlanta Hawks’ final roster cut of the preseason.
Vander Blue was on the receiving end of several of Magette’s helpers last year, but the waterbug guard can also ably create for himself. Blue led the D-League in scoring last year with 26.3 points per game, and will return to Los Angeles for his latest attempt to score his way onto an NBA roster.
Justin Harper was also a huge piece of the D-Fenders attack last year, serving as the stretch-five in former head coach Casey Owens’ (who was himself called up to be an assistant with the Lakers) go-go offense. Harper also played on two ten-day contracts with the Detroit Pistons last season.
Kenneth Smith and D.J. Shumpert played limited roles for the D-Fenders last season, but both were often among the first players out working with player development coaches before games last season and will be solid presences in the team’s locker room.
The aforementioned Travis Wear will also join the D-Fenders this season after being cut by the Lakers in training camp. Wear is a local product, attending Southern California high school powerhouse Mater Dei and later UCLA for his final two college seasons.
Most of Wear’s utility comes from being able to space the floor while standing 6’10, and he shot a respectable 36.7 percent from three-point range over 51 games with the New York Knicks during the 2014-15 season.
Julian Jacobs will give the D-Fenders more depth at guard after spending training camp with the Lakers, where he impressed the coaching staff with his defensive intensity and preparedness.
Here is a full look at the team’s roster:
The @DFenders have finalized their training camp roster. They return several key players from their Finals run last season: pic.twitter.com/YxOgGrvD8M— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 31, 2016
The D-Fenders will kick off their season when they hold media day on November 9th.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.