Bakersfield finished third in the Western Conference last season and upset Dakota in the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated in the semifinals by L.A. This year they will be affiliated with 4 different NBA teams; the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns & Toronto Raptors. The Jam return just 3 players from a year ago starting with former Wisconsin center Brian Butch. Butch averaged nearly 18 points & 12 rebounds per game for Bakersfield during the 2009-10 season. He missed the entire 2010-11 season after dislocating his knee in a summer league came. He came back strong last year and averaged 15.4 & 10.4 over 21 games. He has spent time with the Utah Jazz in the past but hasn't seen any action on the court in the NBA. This season should be a big opportunity for Butch to get back to the big show.
Renaldo Major is also back for another season. He started all 46 games he appeared in for Bakersfield last season to the tune of 15.2 points and 4.7 rebounds. It will be the 6th season in the D-League for Major who has exactly 27 minutes of NBA experience that all came in one 2007 game with Golden State. He had his best shooting season from the field last year and continues to be adept at getting to the free throw line. He is joined by frontcourt mate Adam Koch who enters his 3rd season with the Jam after his memorable NCAA tournament run with Northern Iowa. Koch is a pretty good all-around player who doesn't necessarily excel in any one particular area. He was moved into the starting lineup last year and will need to show some improvement to warrant any type of call up.
Bakersfield also returns 3 other former players that played elsewhere last season. 2-guard Stephen Dennis spent last season in Germany with the New Yorker Phantoms where he saw rotation minutes over 18 games. He continues to struggle from 3 point range but can fill up a stat sheet when given the chance. He was one of the last training camp cuts by the Brooklyn Nets this season and is another call-up candidate. The former Bucks 2nd round pick Tiny Gallon returns after a season off. Bakersfield gave up a 2nd round pick to Maine for him late in the 2010-11 season. He may go as far as his ability to get & stay in shape and conditioned will take him. The pure talent is there and he has the potential to be a force down low if he can stay on the court. The last guy is former DePaul big man Mac Koshwal. He never actually played for the Jam due to the lockout. He was their first pick in the 2011 draft but terminated his contract to pursue other opportunities which didn't materialize. After going undrafted in 2010, he signed in Spain with Canarias but really has played in a year and a half now. It will be interesting to see how Koshwal responds.
Damion James was a first round pick in 2010 but only saw 32 games over 2 years with the Nets. He signed with Atlanta this offseason before being waived at the end of training camp. He will look to regain the dominant form we remember from him during his time at Texas but really he'll be looking for a new opportunity to get back in the league. Isma'il Muhammad is the former high-flying wing 8 years removed from his time at Georgia Tech. Atlanta gave him an opportunity in training camp and he looks to capitalize on his time in the D-League. He spent last year in New Zealand and had somewhat faded into anonymity after playing in Iceland, Saudi Arabia & Australia among others.
Bakersfield have made two trades already this year. First, they shipped out the Spurs' James Anderson to Rio Grande Valley in exchange for Jerel McNeal. Second, they picked up Cameron Tatum from Iowa for Mustapha Farrakhan. McNeal joins the team after spending a month with the Raptors. He was dominant during the 2010-11 season with RGV when he averaged nearly 20 points a game and earned a call-up from Hornets. He spent last year in Italy with Sutor Montegranaro putting up 10.7 pts in 25.3 minutes per game and also teaming up with fellow D-Leaguer Coby Karl (Idaho). Tatum is fresh out of the University of Tennessee. He was taken in the 3rd round by Iowa before coming to Bakersfield. Cam saw time with the Grizzlies in summer league and looks to prove he deserves a NBA call-up this year.
Bakersfield took former 2008 NBA second round pick Shan Foster with their first round selection in this year's draft. Foster spent last year in Belgium with Mons-Hainaut where he gained valuable experience in Eurocup competition. UC-Santa Barbara rookie James Nunnally was picked in round 2. He spent the summer league with Sacramento and will provide a scoring punch for the small forward spot. Bakersfield's second round two pick was spent on Old Dominion power forward Chris Cooper. He averaged a double double last season and his numbers continue to increase with his playing time. Probably the best moment during the draft's conference call came when the Jam announced the selection of 5th round pick Austen Powers followed by a spot on yeaaaah baby. Powers graduated from Seattle in 2009 and joins Bakersfield after spending last year in Portugal. Bakersfield's last 3 picks are all 2012 graduates. Bo Ingram (rd 6) from Texas-Arlington, Trevon Harmon (rd 7) from Cleveland State & Jamel McGuire (rd 8) from CSU San Marcos. All 3 will face an uphill battle to secure a roster spot.
|Brian Butch is back in Bakersfield|
|Stephen Dennis returns from Germany|
|Former 1st rd pick Damion James|
|Isma'il Muhammad dunking in Australia|
|Jerel McNeal arrives via trade|