Monday, March 3, 2014

Coal Burning Stove: Jones, Ebanks should be in NBA

When Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks left WVU, they were two of the most well-known faces to ever don the ole blue and gold. Now, both players are streaking through the NBA Development League. But they should be in the NBA.

You have Ebanks, who sits at fourth in the NBA D League in scoring, averaging 23.9 points per game. The 6-foot-9 forward surely could've been used on his old team, the Los Angles Lakers, this season. But when Ebanks was traded to the Springfield Armor, you have to wonder if the team's affiliate, the Brooklyn Nets, are looking closely at him.

The Nets sit with a 28-29 record and, fortunately, still have a shot at making a run at the Eastern Conference playoffs. With center Brook Lopez out with an injury, the Nets signed Jason Collins to a 10-day contract on February 23. Just a few days prior, the Armor acquired Ebanks.

While the starting rotation seems to be set for the Nets, they could benefit greatly from Ebanks' length and ability to get to the rim. While he will generally play the small forward position, it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring in someone to give Paul Pierce a few breathers.

The next best SF listed on the Nets roster is Alan Anderson, who averages 24.1 minutes per game, slightly less than Pierce's 28.8. Anderson only averages 7.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. From there, the Nets have Andre Kirilenko who gets 19.2 minutes per game and just 5.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

If Collins' contract runs out and the Nets decided to go in another direction, why not Ebanks?

In his last game out, ironically against Jones' Canton Charge, Ebanks scored 31 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, and pulled down nine rebounds. He shot 12-of-20 from the field and hit 5-of-6 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

In the same game, Jones led the Charge with 24 points and 17 rebounds.

Jones, too, could provide a spark for an Eastern Conference team looking to make a run towards the playoffs. Though the Cleveland Cavaliers sit at just 24-37, they're listed as the first team left out of the playoffs in the East.

For the season, Jones averages 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest.

The Cavs have some pieces in place but could be missing one important factor: depth.

Kyrie Irving is undoubtedly one of the best in the league at what he does. From there, Luol Deng and Dion Waiters can provide secondary scoring, both averaging over 14 points per game. In the post, you have Spencer Hawes, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Verejao. Thompson averages 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Those are solid numbers for a power forward. Verejao and Hawes both play the center position and generally play it pretty well.

But who else is after Verejao or Hawes in terms of depth? The only other power forward listed is Arinze Onuaku, who averages 6.5 minutes and 0.8 points per game.

Why not replace him with Jones, who spent time with the team on occasion last season?

The truth of the matter is, you only keep players in your D League system for one reason. Both the Nets and the Cavs will be looking to give themselves the best chance to make some noise in the playoffs.

What better way to make some noise than with players who spent their college years being welcomed to the court with a musket blast?

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