NBA D-League playoff guide

The return of Tony Mitchell from the Bucks is huge.

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

The NBA D-League playoffs begin this week, and you can be sure big-league scouts are watching. The playoffs are a best-of-three format. Here’s a quick team-by-team guide, with teams listed in order of seeding:

1. Fort Wayne Mad Ants

NBA Affiliation: Bobcats, Pistons, Pacers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Magic.

First-round opponent: Reno Bighorns.

Key prospects: G Ron Howard; G/F Tony Mitchell.

Comment: The return of Mitchell from the Bucks is huge. And Howard may be the steadiest player in league history.

2. Los Angeles D-Fenders

NBA Affiliation: Lakers.

First-round opponent: Santa Cruz Warriors.

Key prospects: G/F Shawne Williams; G/F Terrence Williams.

Comment: Shawne Williams may be the best all-around talent in league, and Terrence Williams isn’t far behind.

3. Iowa Energy

NBA Affiliation: Bulls, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Wizards.

First-round opponent: Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Key prospects: G Austin Freeman; G Curtis Stinson.

Comment: Call-up Othyus Jeffers was thrown to Wolves at bad time. Still plenty of talent, though.

4. Sioux Falls Skyforce

NBA Affiliation: Heat.

First-round opponent: Canton Charge.

Key prospects: G DeAndre Liggins; G Tre Kelly.

Comment: Ex-NBA F Craig Smith signed last month, and the Skyforce have been even scarier since.

5. Rio Grande Valley Vipers

NBA Affiliation: Rockets.

First-round opponent: Iowa Energy.

Key prospects: G Darius Morris; G Troy Daniels.

Comment: They live and die by 3-pointer. Read: No lead is safe against these guys.

6. Santa Cruz Warriors

NBA Affiliation: Warriors.

First-round opponent: LA D-Fenders.

Key prospects: G Seth Curry; G Cameron Jones.

Comment: A fun team to watch, as the Warriors have a dangerous backcourt. Defense can be a problem.

7. Canton Charge.

NBA Affiliation: Cavaliers.

First-round opponent: Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Key prospects: F Shane Edwards; F/C Arinze Onuaku.

Comment: The Charge like to slow it down, get the ball down low and let their defense do the rest.

8. Reno Bighorns

NBA Affiliation: Kings.

First-round opponent: Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Key prospects: G Sundiata Gaines, G/F K.C. Rivers.

Comment: Rivers is shooting 51 percent in wins, 35 percent in losses. A little more consistency will get him to the next level.