When the NBA Development League was first constructed 10 years ago, there were questions about just how beneficial it could be. Some weren’t sure it would really work and rightfully so. Basketball isn’t baseball, where there are enough spots and specific skill sets to warrant all of the minor league opportunities. Many figured the D-League would turn into a run-down, NIT version of the NBA, where teams might rarely make call-ups and only in the event of an injury. It’s safe to say that the league has exceeded expectations.
In a recent press release, the D-League reported that they’ve set a number of records this season. 37 first or second-year players were assigned to the D-League this year from 25 different teams. 18 of those players were either first or second-round picks from 2009 and 2010, including six lottery picks (among them were Jonny Flynn and Patrick Patterson). Incredibly, a record-high 98 players currently on NBA rosters have D-League experience (such as Shannon Brown and Dorell Wright) and for the first time ever, every team in the entire league has a player who spent some time in the D-League.
It sounds like the idea of a basketball minor league system that actually works is finally beginning to take shape. How all of this will affect the game in the future remains to be seen, especially with rumors circulating that the new collective bargaining agreement may force players to stay for at least two years in college. For now, as the NBA’s D-League has improved, I think it’s fair to say the state of the NBA has improved as well.
How important do you think the D-League is?
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