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NBA D-League Power Rankings: April 10, 2012

April 10, 2012: With the NBA D-League Playoffs presented by BBVA, tipping off across the country, we've reached the final Power Rankings of the 2011-12 season. The top eight will be familiar ones to NBA D-League fans, as those are the eight squads now vying for a spot in the Finals. But, while some have limped into the postseason -- Iowa, for one -- others, including Los Angeles, Austin, Springfield and Dakota, have finished strong and are looking to build on their success.

-----1st last week
Los Angeles has won 21 of 23 games dating back to January and is the runaway Power Rankings leader after completing the most successful regular season in NBA D-League history, at 38-12. With guard Elijah Millsap earning the final Performer of the Week award and forward Jamario Moon taking home Top Performer of the Month honors for March, the D-Fenders should be strong favorites going into their first round playoff series against defending champion Iowa, which tips off on Wednesday, April 11.
-----2nd last week
Austin was 9-1 down the stretch in solidifying its hold on the No. 2 spot in the Power Rankings, but will the recent losses of Lester Hudson (to the Cavaliers) and high-scoring guard Justin Dentmon, who was called up to the Toronto Raptors, hinder their Playoff drive? Former NBA player Ronald "Flip" Murray scored 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, in the last game of the season and may be counted on to pick up the scoring slack.
5th last week
Springfield clinched the Eastern Conference title with a 105-98 win over Texas on April 7 and secured the third slot in the final Power Rankings. Jerry Smith (20 points) and center Jeff Foote (16 points and 14 rebounds) pace the Armor in the victory and will be key factors in Springfield's first round playoff series against the Canton Charge.
6th last week
Dakota won nine of its last 11 games to catapult up to fourth place in the Power Rankings and earn the fourth seed of the D-League Playoffs, setting up a showdown with Bakersfield. With Edwin Ubiles back in the fold and the recent addition of forward Chris Wright -- who's down on assignment to the Wizards from the Golden State Warriors -- Dakota's on the rise.
3rd last week
Bakersfield dropped two spots in the Power Rankings after a 2-4 week going into their Playoff series against Dakota, which tips off on Thursday, April 12 in Bakersfield. Center Brian Butch has been strong in the paint for the Jam, averaging 15.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season, and combined with veteran D-League performer Renaldo Major will make Bakersfield a difficult out in the playoffs.
7th last week
Erie won five of its last six games, moving up a spot in the Power Rankings and setting up a playoff series with Austin, which tips off on Thursday, April 12. Swingman D.J. Kennedy averaged 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game for the BayHawks this season and the St. John's product is hot going into the playoffs, posting a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double in a season-ending 105-90 win over Canton.
4th last week
Canton had a seven-game win streak in March to gain solid playoff position, but dropped five of six to close the season, slipping three spots in the Power Rankings. Notre Dame product Luke Harangody averaged 19.4 points and 12.6 rebounds per game this season, but the Charge have had difficulty replacing guard Manny Harris, who posted back-to-back 30 minute games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last weekend.
9th last week
After starting the season well, Iowa had a rough second half and just edged into the playoffs with a .500 record. The defending D-League champions thus earned the final playoff seed and will face red-hot Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs. Game 1 of the series tips off on Wednesday, April 11 and Iowa will look to outside threat Moses Ehambe and guard Mike Efevberha to orchestrate an upset against the D-Fenders.
8th last week
Texas ended the year on a six-game losing streak which dropped them one spot in the Power Rankings, but it was a very big spot to lose as it also represented the position of the final team to make the D-League playoffs. Forward/Center Sean Williams averaged 15.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Legends, while splitting time with the squad's NBA affiliate the Dallas Mavericks.
-----10th last week
Rio Grande Valley went 2-2 for the week but needed to run to the table in order to try and force its way into the playoffs. The Vipers did end the season in style, winning a 144-140 shoutout against Reno, with forward Tyren Johnson (30 points, 14 rebounds) and center Scott VanderMeer (18 points, 13 rebounds) posting double-doubles, but it wasn't quite enough for last year's Finals runner-ups.
-----11th last week
Tulsa never recovered fully from a February funk which saw them lose 9-of-10 games over one stretch, and despite a respectable 7-4 March finished out of the playoffs. A constant highlight for the 66ers this season was the double-double machine himself, Marcus Lewis. The 6-8, 245-pound forward posted his 35th double-double of the season in the season-ending loss to Maine on April 7.
13th last week
Idaho finished with a flourish, winning the last three games of the season and moving up a spot in the Power Rankings. The Stampede had a 3-0 April, defeating Reno on April 1 and sweeping a pair of games against playoff-bound Bakersfield on April 6-7. Paul Carter knocked down a 17-foot jumper at the buzzer to beat the Jam in the season-ender. After the game, former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker announced his retirement from basketball.
12th last week
Reno was 2-3 to the close out the season, but did get some big player news as point guard Blake Ahearn, one of the top performers in the D-League this season and the league's all-time scoring leader, was called up to the NBA's Utah Jazz on Monday, April 9. The Bighorns ended the 2011-12 campaign on the losing side of a high-socring 144-140 contest with Rio Grande Valley.
-----14th last week
Maine also ended the season on a strong note, winning the final three games of the campaign, including a thrilling 84-82 win over Tulsa in the season finale. Kenny Hayes was the hero for the Red Claws with the game-winning bucket at the buzzer. Hayes finished with 17 points and teammate Marcus Almond added 13 in the victory. Hayes and Almond were later named Maine Co-Players of the Year.
-----15th last week
Sioux Falls was 1-4 for the final Power Rankings period of the season, registering a 120-97 win over playoff-bound Iowa for their last win of the season. Forward Trey Gilder scored a team-high 27 points for the Skyforce while teammate Curtis Withers added a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double.
------16th last week
Fort Wayne ended the season on high note, defeating playoff-bound Dakota 99-98 on April 7 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne. Swingman Ron Howard scored a team-high 21 points for the Mad Ants in the win and forward Charles Garcia chipped in with 18 points and seven rebounds to help top the Wizards. 2-3.