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Does Shane Gibson Deserve a 10-Day NBA Contract?

Can Shane Gibson become the first NEC player since Corsley Edwards* to be play in the NBA?

Former Sacred Heart Pioneer Shane Gibson has been balling this year for the Idaho Stampede (affiliate of the Utah Jazz). In 30 games this season, 28 starts, Gibson is averaging 14.1 ppg on 47.9% from the field. He's connecting on 43% of his triples, which ranks him 47th in the NBDL; he's 3rd in makes at 89. Gibson has converted 31 of his 32 free throws, good for 96.9% which ranks 2nd in the D-League. Basically, the man is putting the ball in the basket extremely efficiently.

NBA teams have been permitted to issue 10-day contracts since January 5th. Gibson is still waiting for his. Does Gibson have a legitimate case for a 10-day contract, or are there too many barriers to entry?

The Case For:

For starters, he is absolutely making the right choice playing in the NBDL if he hopes to one day make an NBA roster, especially this season. Since January 5th, a 10-day contract has been issued 24 times to players in the D-League; 22 of those instances are unique. On 14 of those occasions, a second 10-day contract was issued to that player; in 6 of those instances that player was signed for the remainder of the season. You can check out the full list here.

It's nearly impossible for a player to join an NBA team if they're playing internationally right now. A big part of that is due to contract buyout language. Also, NBA teams generally look to the NBDL when an injury arises. It's far easier to issue a 10-day contract to a player that a team's representative is watching every game, than offer a fully guaranteed deal, at least for the remainder of the season, to an international player who may not be immediately available.

Bottom line: Gibson is putting himself in the best possible situation.

Depending on how you view Lakers' point guard Jeremy Lin, most star players don't have the humble beginning of starting their professional careers in the D-League. The players who receive 10-day contracts without prior NBA experience generally possess at least one elite skill. Gibson just so happens to be an elite three-point specialist - a good sign. Teams are always going to need players that can reliably drain three-pointers, and Gibson has the added benefit that he's a proven player from the NBA three-point line.

As a bonus, Gibson’s collegiate scoring output suggests that he can get buckets in a variety of ways if given the opportunity. His floor numbers also compare favorably to guard Seth Curry of the Erie BayHawks:

Curry:     48.3% FG/ 49.0% 3-PT FG/ 92.8% FT

Gibson:  47.9% FG/ 43.0% 3-PT FG/ 96.9% FT

Curry does average 10 more points per game, but is also taking six more attempts per contest and plays a little more than 10 minutes per game.

The Case Against:

As you may have guessed, there are numerous obstacles standing in Gibson’s way.  Most of those hurdles are completely out of his hands. For starters, he has to battle perception. At 6'2", 180 lbs., Gibson is probably best suited, based on size, to play point guard at the games highest level.

The hesitancy that some teams are going to have is the fact that he averages just 1.3 apg. Former Robert Morris Colonial Karvel Anderson ran into a similar issue last season while working out for the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers.

Undersized off-guards are transitioning out of the league; players like Ben Gordon and Daniel Gibson (no relation), just to name a few, are finding that there isn't a place for them in the league. The former is struggling to find playing time on a mediocre Orlando Magic team, and the latter hasn't been in the league for two years.

Additionally, NBA teams want players with experience if possible. At least when it comes to 10-day contracts. If you took a look at the list in the link above, you probably recognized a lot of those names. That's because every player on that list either has NBA experience, was a college standout, played in the NBA summer league, or was in training camp with an NBA team[1]. Even the Prospect Watch on NBDL.com features a litany of players that are recognizable if you've watched college basketball over the last five years or so.

Some may draw parallels to Minnesota Timberwolves guard Troy Daniels, formerly of the Houston Rockets, and Gibson in terms of their performance while in the D-League. However, Daniels has two inches on Gibson, which makes a relatively big difference on both ends of the floor. He also comes from a higher defensive pedigree having played at VCU under Shaka Smart.

He’s also been viewed as a three-point specialist for far longer than Gibson. His 11 triples against East Tennessee State during his senior season is still a school and Atlantic 10 record; his 124 total triples in his final season are also a school record. Daniels also set the all-time three-point record for makes last year as a member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (240).

Conclusion:

The reality is that every player in the NBDL is woefully underpaid. Gibson could make a nice career for himself overseas, both on the court and financially. Having covered the Erie BayHawks last season, the team that cut Gibson before the season, I tip my hat to him for pursuing his dream.

The odds are certainly against him, but Gibson is doing everything in his power in hopes of seeing his name on the back of an NBA jersey in the near future.  He has a very coveted skill - three-point shooting - and really just needs an opportunity to showcase that at the next level.

[1] He had a workout with the Sacramento Kings in late June of 2013.

* A previous version of this article mentioned Othyus Jeffers, who did not play at the Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference. He played at the Robert Morris in Illinois. Totally different. Oops.