The tweet from Draft Express rang out at 4.30am CET and posed quite the complex question. To wit: “What does Curtis Stinson – a guy no team in the NBA or Europe has any interest in – winning MVP of the D-League, say about the D-League?”
Such consternation clearly comes from one with an encyclopedic memory, because even for hoops diehards outside of Iowa, the man’s name will mostly elicit an answer of “huh?”
After writing his name throughout the Iowa State Cyclones record book, Stinson went undrafted in 2006 and could not stick with the Golden State Warriors after playing summer league ball with them. And so Stinson took a route familiar to many such players post-NCAA: He sought a job in Europe.
Now, fans of European basketball may still not freely recall Stinson, despite his affiliation last decade with a few traditional Continental powerhouses. Stinson’s professional career actually began in the Adriatic League with KK Split from 2006-07 and, well, as DraftExpress soon put it, Stinson “couldn’t adjust his game, or mentality enough, so he was cut. This summer had zero offers.”
The sum total of Stinson’s numbers in his first two “seasons” in Europe went as follows – figures provided by the official website of EΣAKE club Aris BSA, who were certainly pleased to theoretically have the Bronx guy signed for the 2009-10 season:
KK Split, 2006-07. Played in six games, averaged 13.7 points (with 50.8% shooting on 2s, 26.7% on 3s), 4.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.5 steals per game.
Kolossos Rhodes, 2007-08. Played in 11 games, averaged 11.0 ppg (with 50.0% shooting on 2s, 26.1% on 3s), 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg.
As for playing with Aris BSA, Stinson stayed with that club for less than two months before joining up with the Chicago Bulls in late September – only to be waived about a week later. Thanks to the Bulls’ affiliation with the Iowa Energy, Stinson returned to his home state-away-from-home, not to mention finding the place he’s apparently best suited to play ball.
In bouncing back and forth from various D-League teams, Stinson has played in the association since 2006-07 and yesterday was announced as the league’s MVP for 2010-11. Reads the official press release in part:
“Curtis Stinson of the Iowa Energy today was named the NBA Development League’s Most Valuable Player, as voted on by the NBA D-League’s 16 head coaches.
“Stinson, a 6-3, 215-pound guard out of Iowa State, started in 48 of Iowa’s regular season games, averaging 19.3 points, 9.8 assists and 5.7 rebounds in 42.9 minutes. Stinson led the NBA D-League this season in assists, minutes, triple-doubles (five) and double-doubles (28), leading Iowa to the Eastern Conference title with a 37-13 regular season record, the best in the NBA D-League.
“‘It’s a real honor to be named MVP of the D-League,’ Stinson said. ‘There are a lot of great players in this league, and to receive this award is one of the highlights of my career. I am truly thankful to have great teammates and coaches, and I appreciate all they have done to help me earn this recognition.’
“…Stinson was named to the All-NBA Development League First Team last week, becoming just the third player in league history to earn back-to-back All-NBA D-League First Team selections.”
The D-League offices also noted that “Stinson achieved several milestones this season, becoming the NBA D-League’s all-time leader in assists (1,668), steals (334), field goals made (1,226) and minutes (7,827), and moved into third place on the all-time scoring list (3,038),” clearly earning him the sobriquet of “pro basketball’s Crash Davis.”
With the recent hype surrounding Stinson – well, in Iowa, at least – local media is exhuming an old favorite, “inevitable” question directly related to that of DraftExpress: “Why has the NBA never come calling?” And in this piece, the answers are laid bare, with Stinson’s ball-handling, age and even luck cited as reasons.
But back to the original query, i.e. “What does Stinson’s MVP say about the D-League?” BallinEurope would go with the following.
• There is no “D” in “team,” and the effort to cohesion must take a backseat to a few hundred identical individual goals: that of getting to the big NBA stage. A guy like Stinson, who “done the No. 1 thing he could do. He’s led about 12 different groups of guys to winning basketball games,” according to Energy coach Nick Nurse, is the exception.
• The most meaningless word within the expression “NBA Development League” is “Development.” While former D-Leaguers comprised, at season’s end, 23% of the NBA’s players, a closer look at the list reveals quite a few recent washouts (Hasheem Thabeet, Von Wafer, Shaun Livingston), dissatisfied-to-disgruntled foreign players (Ian Mahinmi, Kosta Koufos), and players who arguably developed their skills to greater extent in Europe than in D ball (Pooh Jeter, certainly Ersan Ilyasova). Nurse is correct when he refers to the NBADL as a “minor league,” which is how this game should probably be thought of, all NBA aggrandizement aside.
• At least a half-dozen European leagues — possibly as many as 10 — offer superior competition to that of the D League (surely, there’s no argument here).
• The D League is a totally different reality. In closing an exchange on the Stinson subject, DraftExpress noted that he was “Just pointing out how little the stats & style that’s played in the D-League translates to real basketball.” Truer words were never tweeted!