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14ers Benefit From NBA Infusion

January 6, 2009 - NBA G League (G League) - Colorado 14ers News Release

Orem, Utah, January 5, 2009 - The Colorado 14ers entered the 2009 NBA D-League Showcase with three NBA assignees gracing their roster, but one was noticeably absent when they took the floor against the Austin Toros for a matinee affair in Orem, Utah.

M.I.A. was Cheikh Samb, sent down to Colorado by the Nuggets along with Sonny Weems back on December 10. Word soon circulated that Samb had been traded to the Clippers, thus ending his successful stay with the 14ers and shrinking Colorado's enviable stock of NBA talent.

Such is life in the NBA D-League, in which rosters are constantly amorphous because of NBA assignees, NBA call-ups, injuries and players choosing to go overseas at the drop of a hat.

"I wish him the best of luck," said Weems. "He gets to play with the Clippers and they don't have a full roster, so maybe he'll some minutes up there. We're just happy for him."

After a slow start in his first three games with the 14ers, Samb had been on the rise. In his last seven outings, Samb averaged 15.1 points, 8.6 boards and an astounding 4.4 blocks. His 14ers swan song featured a 21-point, 10-rebound and six-block effort against Tulsa.

Samb and Weems together gave the 14ers a shot in the arm in the month of December, propelling the team to near the top of the Southwest Division. Unfortunately, Monday's loss to first-place Austin set them back a bit.

Weems, a rookie out of Arkansas who was drafted by Chicago before being traded to Denver, had not seen any action with the Nuggets this season prior to his assignment mainly because of injuries. But even when Weems was closer to playing shape, opportunities for live game action were few and far between, so Denver made the decision to assign him to Colorado.

"It's given me time to just play a lot more," said Weems. "It's given time to develop and play with good players. It was a good group before I got here. I'm just trying to bring my energy and what I can do to the team."

Weems came into Orem as an integral part to the revamped 14ers attack, averaging 17.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in nine games for the squad. And in his first game at the Showcase he put up a team-high 21 points, and, perhaps more important, continued with what he wants to improve upon during his time in the NBA D-League.

"I need to attack the basket a lot more," said Weems. "I need to get to the free throw line. That's what they're stressing with the Nuggets, so that's what I'm trying to do."

The addition of Sean Williams from the Nets just before the New Year not only increased Colorado's NBA assignee number, but also its depth and versatility. Williams has always been staunch defender at the rim, which is the main reason why New Jersey made him a first-round selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, and that trend has continued during the early stages of his time with Colorado. Through three games Williams has averaged 4.3 blocks.

"They give us an athletic presence," said Colorado coach Bob MacKinnon of the NBA assignees. "All three have come in and been hard-working guys. They've added to what we've got in terms of guys working hard. It's been a good experience."

Of course, it's not all easy. As MacKinnon pointed out, there are the adjustments the NBA players have to make to life in the D-League, such as travel and the disparity in crowds. Plus, an influx of NBA-level talent goes hand-in-hand with diminished roles for other members of the team who had previously enjoyed an abundance of court time.

"It's hard," said MacKinnon. "Minutes are taken away and it's an adjustment for everybody. But you have to be professional and you have to go on."

And, according to Weems, professional is just what his 14ers teammates have been. Some players have turned the adversity into an advantage and flourished playing alongside the new additions. Just last week Josh Davis was named the NBA D-League's Top Performer of the Week after averaging 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting .632 (24-38) from the field over a three-game span (Colorado went 3-0).

And that attitude has even carried over into the league's premier event -- the Showcase -- which offers players the best chance to get noticed by NBA eyes.

"If you play together as a team, then individually you look better," said MacKinnon. "When we don't play together as a team then we don't look good individually or collectively."

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