NY Times – Since scoring 78 points and drilling 20 3-pointers in his first two games with the Reno Bighorns of the N.B.A. Development League, Brady Heslip has tried to move on.
“I’m down here for a reason,” said Heslip, a 24-year-old shooting guard, “and the reason I’m down here is to get back to where I want to be.” Where Heslip wants to be, of course, is the N.B.A., and he has gone about his business of pursuing that goal by posting some of the gaudiest numbers in the history of the D-League. Last Friday, in his D-League debut, Heslip scored 40 points while sinking 11 of 18 3-pointers in a loss to the Iowa Energy. As if to quiet skeptics who considered that game a fluke, Heslip went out on Sunday and shot 9 of 18 from 3-point range to finish with 38 points in a 127-116 win over the Grand Rapids Drive.
“You may think he’s a 6-foot-1, 160-pound guard with a science teacher’s haircut,” Lee said. “But he has Kobe Bryant’s jump shot and drive to compete.”
Heslip has done his damage while playing a mere 27.1 minutes per game, which works out to his scoring 1.4 points per minute. Before the season started, Coach David Arseneault Jr. told Heslip that as long as he played defense and chased offensive rebounds, there was no such thing as a bad shot.
“This is the first time in my career that I’ve had this much freedom,” said Heslip, who played in college at Baylor.
It obviously helps that the Bighorns are doing some wacky stuff. Arseneault, 28, played for his father at Grinnell College in Iowa, a program known for its dizzying volume of 3-point attempts. The Sacramento Kings, the Bighorns’ parent club, hired him in October with instructions to incorporate some of those philosophies at the D-League level.
That means full-court pressure for 48 minutes and five-man substitutions every two minutes. Arseneault also advises his players to treat the shot clock as if it were only 12 seconds instead of 24. He wants layups and 3-pointers. Midrange jumpers are to be avoided at all costs.
We all remember Brady Heslip, right? He burst on the scene two years ago for Baylor, draining threes and flashing loose butthole manacles all up in the Big 12’s grill. He was the perfect remedy for White America as it reeled in pain from Jimmer Fredette withdrawal. Or so it seemed. Unfortunately for Brady there can only be one Great White Mamba per season and that title was never actually up for debate.
Heslip carved out a nice little stint at Baylor, stealing the hearts of girlfriends and mothers from Waco to Ontario with his boyish “future-CPA” good looks. I assumed that post-college he would be over in Europe gettin’ them checks or precipitating on scrubs in a law school men’s league. Not so fast, my friend! Turns out Heslip is chasing that NBA dream, and I – for one – couldn’t be more pleased. Look, Heslip is not a fit at any NBA position. He’s a 6’1, 160lb shooting guard who can’t play the point at a pro level and is too small and too slow to consistently defend NBA-caliber guards. It’s highly doubtful that he will ever stick in the League, but if he keeps putting up these kinds of numbers, he’ll at least earn a 10-day contract at some point. Just look at this line!
34 points in 26 minutes per game is absolute insanity! If that continues, some GM is gonna have to give Heslip a look as a third string shooting guard with a non-guaranteed, value contract. Many skeptics might looks at his stat line and note that it’s only been three games and normally I wouldn’t think that this type of production could hold up either, but there’s something else happening here, too. The Kings – Reno’s parent club – have hired Grinnell College alum Dave Arsenault to coach the Bighorns and develop the program. Arsenaul’s father is an offensive pioneer and Grinnell’s head coach. He is responsible for this:
The Arsenault men believe in full court, on-ball pressure in hopes of forcing a quick turnover. If that fails, they basically cede a score and immediately push the ball back up the floor. They play fast and strictly look for three pointers and lay-ups. They don’t have time for bullshit like mid-range shots or post-ups. It’s the type of basketball that makes watching a low-level D3 game exciting. It will never totally transfer over to high-level college programs or the NBA, but something tells me that the Kings hired Arsenault to develop young talent that might be under the radar and evaluate which prospects have the best chance of transforming into NBA scorers. The Grinnell system will give a gunner like Heslip every opportunity possible, so if he can’t parlay this into an NBA trial then it just wasn’t meant to be. Here’s hoping Heslip can keep his elite play going, Every generation of children should have a Steve Kerr. At 34ppg, Brady Heslip could be this crop of young kid’s Steve Kerr.