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Former Grizzly Jarnell Stokes Named NBA D-League MVP

The former Grizzly who was traded earlier this season has been quite impressive in the D-League this season.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Former Grizzlies draft pick and Iowa Energy alum Jarnell Stokes has been named the most valuable player of the NBA Developmental League.

From the Argus Leader

Sioux Falls Skyforce forward Jarnell Stokes has been named the 2015-16 NBA Development League Most Valuable Player in a vote by the league’s 19 head coaches.

Stokes (6-7, 250, Tennessee) played in 28 games (all starts) for the Skyforce this season, averaging team highs of 20.6 points and 9.3 rebounds.  He began the season with the Miami Heat, playing 16 games on assignment in Sioux Falls, before being traded to New Orleans on Feb. 18 and waived by the Pelicans one day later.  He joined the Skyforce’s roster permanently on Feb. 27.

A 2016 NBA D-League All-Star, Stokes shot an NBA D-League-best 66 percent from the field, scored in double figures 27 times and recorded 13 double-doubles.  He led the team in scoring 14 times and rebounding 13 times.  He was named the NBA D-League Player of the Week on Jan. 4 and earned Player of the Month honors for March and April.

Stokes’ Skyforce won an NBA D-League-record 40 games this season, securing the first seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  Sioux Falls swept the Westchester Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and currently leads Canton 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Stokes was originally drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 35th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, where he was traded for a 2016 second round pick to the Grizzlies.  The University of Tennessee product played in 21 games with the Grizzlies averaging 2.7 points and .9 rebounds per game, spending a lot of his time here with the Iowa Energy.  In November of this year, Stokes was traded with Beno Udrih to the Miami Heat for Mario Chalmers and James Ennis.  In an interesting quirk, every person involved in that trade would be waived this season.  Stokes played in two games with the Miami Heat, also spending time with their D-League team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, before being traded to New Orleans for a heavily protected second round pick in 2018.  Stokes was immediately waived.  He would sign with the Skyforce and dominated the season to the point that he was the most valuable player in the league.

Also remember this, Stokes was traded for James Ennis, who was eventually cut for a spot on the roster for Ryan HollinsRuss Smith was also cut for a spot for Ryan Hollins.  And Ryan Hollins was cut two weeks before the season ended.

Stokes is a bit undersized (he is listed at 6'8", but that's a strrrrrreeeeeeeeech.  Hopefully he gets another chance to be in the NBA, but his destiny may be a D-League tweener: too good for the NBADL and not good enough for the NBA.

But congratulations to the former Young Bull of Beale Street on his exceptional season and his amazing award.