The D-League Does Luke Some Good
By sarahhecht Posted in: LukeBabbitt
Rookie forward Luke Babbitt, dubbed "The Nevada Flash" by Mike Rice, found some confidence playing with the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Development League.
Prior to heading to Idaho, Luke didn’t see much other than the bench. The time he did see was, how can I put this lightly, not pretty. He seemed shaky, nervous, and practically stumbled around the court in the garbage minutes he found. Coaches noticed.
Babbitt was assigned to the Trail Blazers D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, on Dec. 8, 2010 to get the playing time and experience he wasn’t finding sitting at the end of the Trail Blazers bench. The assignment had another goal as well: confidence.
His four game run with the Stampede boasted 18 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game and a sky-high +14.50 efficiency rating.
As a rookie on a team fighting for playoff position, Luke recognizes the benefits of time with the Stampede.
“The D-League was a good experience for me," said Babbitt. "Being able to go down there and play, get minutes, work on things that you really can’t work on when you’re in my situation.”
Expected to play six games with the Stampede, Luke was called back early following Portland injuries. “It was at halftime of the Minnesota game and guys were dropping like flies” he said. “I got the call and was excited to get back.”
During Luke’s first minutes on the court following his D-League stint the impact of playing time was instantly visible. He looked like an NBA player, not some guy who was star-struck and nervous. He moved with commitment and took shots. He found confidence.
Though the sample size of Luke’s stats pre and post D-League run is too small to draw a meaningful comparison, one look at his no-look ally-oop pass to LaMarcus Aldridge
is enough to know there’s been a change.
Said Babbitt: “Anytime you can get real minutes, meaningful minutes, it helps you as a young player mentally, it helps your skill level, just everything.”
Luke seems to have noticed the differences in his game as well. Would more games with the Stampede help Babbitt improve further?
“Being up here, playing with the NBA competition, being in this locker room, seeing all these vets and getting that experience, you can’t beat that.” Babbitt said. “But also getting that game experience is good also. So if you can have them both its the best of both worlds.”
I couldn’t have said it better Luke. Another leap in your confidence will do us all good. I’d call that temporary assignment a success, wouldn’t you?