During the final weeks of the Wizards’ season, a rash of injuries forced Saunders to rely on D-League callups. Two of those players, Othyus Jeffers and Larry Owens, just might be wearing NBA uniforms for good.
Jeffers played for the Iowa Energy; Owens for the Tulsa 66ers. On more than one occasion, Saunders has referred to the two, as well as the slightly less used Mustafa Shakur, who also played for the 66ers and the Rio Grande Vipers, as his “D-League All-Stars.”
“We made a commitment to bring in guys that are going to play hard and do things to make our players better,” Saunders said. “‘O’ [Jeffers] does that with how hard he plays. You can’t help but get caught up in that enthusiasm. Same thing now with Larry. Those guys have helped bring our energy level up.”
John Wall also noticed the effort the D-League players bring.
“It was tough getting here from where they came from, so they come here and give it 110 percent every time they’re on the court - hustling for loose balls, getting rebounds, just playing hard,” Wall said.
Owens called the chance to play in the NBA “an honor.”
“When you’re down there grinding it out [in the D-League], it’s always an honor to get called up,” Owens said. “I’m just trying to stay ready at all times when coach puts me in. It’s a compliment when the coach notices how we play.”
Jeffers hopes the timing is finally right to stick with an NBA team.
“I’ve been in this position a couple of times and it didn’t play out my way, but this is a different team so hopefully it will work out,” Jeffers said.
“Hopefully I’ll be here next year, but it’s not up to me. If it was up to me, I’d sign myself to a hundred million dollars,” Jeffers said smiling broadly. “We’re from the NBA D-League. It stands for development. It wasn’t that we couldn’t play in the NBA; it was just that our time wasn’t right. Now we have the opportunity to perform.”View Entire Story
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