Remember Brady Heslip? You know, the Canadian shooter who starred at Baylor until last season. Yeah, that dude. He went undrafted earlier this year, but landed in the NBA Development League with the Reno Bighorns. And in his first two games, Heslip has scored 78 points, including 20 threes.
No, seriously. Heslip is leading the D-League in scoring with 39 ppg and shooting 56 percent from beyond the arc—in just 27 minutes per night.
You should read the entire feature on Heslip in the New York Times, but for now, here’s a small taste of his insane start, plus a highlight reel so you can watch it for yourself:
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.”
As of Monday night, a two-minute compilation of Heslip’s highlights against the Energy had been viewed more than 4,000 times on YouTube — a modest achievement in its own right. Attention comes neither swiftly nor easily to the D-League and its collection of basketball outposts. All those eyeballs are hard won.
Enter Heslip, who has done his damage while playing — wait for it — 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.