NBA Development League
The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League (sometimes just D-League), is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until summer 2005 as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), the NBA D-League started with eight teams in the fall of 2001. In March 2005, NBA commissioner David Stern announced a plan to expand the NBA D-League to fifteen teams and develop it into a true minor league farm system, with each NBA D-League team affiliated with one or more NBA teams. For the 2008–09 season, the league consists of 20 teams. The most recent addition to the teams are the Maine Red Claws. More additions are being planned.
The league began play as the NBDL in the 2001–2002 season; the original eight franchises were all located in the southeastern United States (specifically in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia). Some of these teams were purchased by private owners and relocated — at the same time the league's name was changed — in the summer of 2005, in a bid to appeal to more fans nationwide. As a result, franchises were established in or moved to Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Florida and Oklahoma. In February 2006, the D-League expanded to California for the first time with the addition of the Bakersfield Jam. Two months later, the league announced that four teams from the Continental Basketball Association were joining the league: the Dakota Wizards, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Idaho Stampede, and a team originally slated for CBA expansion, the Colorado 14ers. A few days after that, the league announced that Anaheim, California, would be getting a team. One week after that, they announced that the Los Angeles Lakers have purchased a team, making them the first NBA team to own a D-League team. The westward expansion contributed to the contraction of the NBA-owned Roanoke Dazzle and Fayetteville Patriots. The Florida Flame have suspended operations due to arena scheduling difficulties. Today, no NBA D-League teams remain in the league's original Southeastern footprint.
NBA D-League All-Star Game
The NBA Development League held its first All-Star game February 17, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was part of the NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. As with the NBA's showcase game, a fan vote determined the starting lineup for each team. The East won 114 to 100, with Pops Mensah-Bonsu named the game's MVP.
The second annual All-Star game was held on February 16, 2008, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Blue team beat the Red team, 117–99 and Jeremy Richardson was named the MVP. In addition to the NBA D-League All-Star Game, the league debuted its first Dream Factory Friday Night events, which modeled after the NBA All-Star Saturday Night events. The events consists of Three-Point Shootout (won by Adam Harrington), Slam Dunk Contest (won by Brent Petway) and game of H.O.R.S.E. (won by Lance Allred).
The 2009 D-League All-Star game was held on February 14, 2009, at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The Red Team defeated the Blue Team 113–103 and Blake Ahearn and Courtney Sims were named co-MVPs. Along with the All-Star game, the NBA D-League ran their second annual Dream Factory Friday Night events. H.O.R.S.E., which debuted last year, was won by Will Conroy of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. The Three-Point Shootout was won by Blake Ahearn of the Dakota Wizards, and the Slam Dunk Contest was won by James White of the Bakersfield Jam.
NBA D-League Showcase
The league stages an annual NBA D-League Showcase in which all of the league's teams play each other in a "carnival" format. The Showcase was first played in 2005 was originally intended solely as a scouting event for NBA general managers and scouts, but has evolved into a fan-friendly four day event in which each team plays two games apiece. Since the inception of the event in 2005, there have been 15 players called-up or recalled during or immediately following the Showcase. The Showcase has been hosted in Columbus, Georgia (2005), Fayetteville, North Carolina (2006), Sioux Falls, South Dakota (2007),Boise, Idaho (2008), Orem, Utah (2009), and in Boise, Idaho January 4–7 for 2010.
Players for NBA D-League teams do not sign contracts with the individual teams, but with the league itself. D-League team rosters consist of a total of 12 players, 10 (or fewer) being D-League players and 2 (or more) NBA players. The rosters are made up in a number of ways: the previous years' players, players taken in the D-League draft, allocation players (meaning players who are assigned to a team with which they have a local connection, such as a University of Texas player being assigned to the Austin Toros), NBA team assignments, and local tryouts. Each NBA team can assign two first or second year players to its affiliated D-League team. If more than two NBA players are assigned to a team, the team must reduce the number of D-League players to keep the total roster size to 12. Each team also has local tryouts, and one player from the tryouts is assigned to the team. The minimum age to play in the NBDL is 18, unlike the NBA which requires players to be 19 years old and one year out of high school in order to sign an NBA contract or be eligible for the draft.
NBA teams can call up players as many times as they choose, but a player can only be assigned to the NBA D-League three times in a season.
Successful NBA call-ups
Many former NBA draftees, waived players and undrafted players have played in the NBA D-League. Some of the called-up D-League players that went on to have a successful NBA careers include Rafer Alston, Louis Amundson, Chris Andersen, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes, Devin Brown, Will Bynum, Matt Carroll, Eddie Gill, Stephen Graham, Jason Hart, Chuck Hayes, Anthony Johnson, Dahntay Jones, Jamario Moon, Mikki Moore, Smush Parker, Bobby Simmons, Ime Udoka, Von Wafer, C. J. Watson, Mike Wilks. Aside from these players, there are several successful NBA players who were assigned to the D-League in their first and second season, such as José Juan Barea, Brandon Bass, Andray Blatche, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Marcin Gortat, Ramon Sessions and Martell Webster.
Currently, there are only seven players with D-League experience who won an NBA title, Devin Brown with the San Antonio Spurs in 2004–05, James White with the San Antonio Spurs in 2006-07, Gabe Pruitt with the Boston Celtics in 2007–08, Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell, Sun Yue, and Shannon Brown with Los Angeles Lakers in 2008–09. Among these six players, only Devin Brown was called up from D-League, while the other five players were assigned to D-League by their NBA teams. Bobby Simmons is the only former D-League player to win an NBA end of season award, taking Most Improved Player award with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004–05.
In 2008 NBA Draft, Portland Trail Blazers drafted Mike Taylor from Idaho Stampede. He became the first player from the NBA D-League to be drafted by an NBA team. He was subsequently traded and signed a rookie contract with Los Angeles Clippers.
Thirty-five former NBA D-League players were on the 2006–07 NBA opening day roster. The number increased into 44 players in 2007–08 and then 60 players in 2008–09. In the 2009 NBA Playoffs, an all-time high of 49 players was named to playoff rosters, 17 of whom also spent time in the D-League that season.
As of April 14, 2009, there are 143 call-ups to the NBA, involving 89 players. The franchise with the most call-ups in D-League history is Columbus/Austin (15). They are followed by Asheville Tulsa (14); Fayetteville (11); Colorado (9); Huntsville/Albuquerque, Charleston/Florida, Roanoke and Sioux Falls (8); Iowa (6); Fort Worth and Idaho (5); Dakota, Fort Wayne and Mobile (4); Bakersfield and Los Angeles (3); Rio Grande Valley and Anaheim/Springfield (2) and Arkansas, Erie, Greenville and Utah (1).
Future expansion and relocation
The Toronto Raptors are engaged in discussions to bring a D-League team to Southern Ontario by 2009–10, most likely to Hamilton, but Oshawa remains a possibility. Palm Springs, California is also being considered as an expansion site.
The Manchester Millrats, of the Premier Basketball League (PBL), formed with a long-term goal of joining the D-League and had opened preliminary talks with the NBA about a partnership with the Boston Celtics and playing at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. However, with the expectation that the Maine Red Claws will be announced as a Celtics affiliate as soon as the NBA season is over, the future of the Millrats is unclear.
The owner of the Halifax Rainmen also of the PBL is currently pursuing ownership of a D-League team in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Other possibilities in the East for D-League teams include Toledo, Ohio; Harlem, New York; Youngstown, Ohio; and Trenton, New Jersey.
|Team||City||Active Year(s)||NBA Affiliates|
|Arkansas RimRockers||Little Rock, Arkansas||2004–2007||Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat|
|Fort Worth Flyers||Fort Worth, Texas||2005–2007||Dallas Mavericks ("local" affiliate), Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers|
|Team||City||Active Year(s)||NBA Affiliates||Notes|
|Anaheim Arsenal||Anaheim, California||2006–2009||Los Angeles Clippers ("local" affiliate), Orlando Magic, Portalnd Trailblazers, Atlanta Hawks||moved to Springfield, Massachusetts|
|Asheville Altitude||Asheville, North Carolina||2001–2005||N/A||moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|(North) Charleston Lowgators||Charleston, South Carolina||2001–2004||Miami Heat ("local" affiliate), Orlando Magic ("local" affiliate), Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics,||moved to South Fort Myers, Florida|
|Colorado 14ers||Broomfield, Colorado||2006–2009||Denver Nuggets ("local" affiliate), New Jersey Nets||moved to Frisco, Texas|
|Columbus Riverdragons||Columbus, Georgia||2001–2005||San Antonio Spurs||moved to Austin, Texas|
|Fayetteville Patriots||Fayetteville, North Carolina||2001–2006||Charlotte Bobcats ("local" affiliate), Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks||Folded by league|
|Florida Flame||South Fort Myers, Florida||2001-2007||Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves||Folded by owners|
|Greenville Groove||Greenville, South Carolina||2001–2003||None||Folded by league|
|Huntsville Flight||Huntsville, Alabama||2001–2005||Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat||moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico|
|Mobile Revelers||Mobile, Alabama||2001–2003||None||Folded by league|
|Roanoke Dazzle||Roanoke, Virginia||2001–2006||Washington Wizards ("local" affiliate), Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets||Folded by league|
|2001–2002||Greenville Groove||81–63, 75–68||North Charleston Lowgators|
|2002–2003||Mobile Revelers||92–82, 71–77, 75–72||Fayetteville Patriots|
|2003–2004||Asheville Altitude||108–106 (OT)||Huntsville Flight|
|2004–2005||Asheville Altitude||90–67||Columbus Riverdragons|
|2005–2006||Albuquerque Thunderbirds||119–108||Fort Worth Flyers|
|2006–2007||Dakota Wizards||129–121 (OT)||Colorado 14ers|
|2007–2008||Idaho Stampede||89–95, 90–89, 108–101||Austin Toros|
|2008–2009||Colorado 14ers||136–131, 123–104||Utah Flash|
Note: For the 2001–02 and 2002–03 seasons, (and resuming with the 2007–08 season onwards) the championship has been a best-of-three game series.
Most Valuable Player
- 2001–2002 Ansu Sesay, Greenville Groove
- 2002–2003 Devin Brown, Fayetteville Patriots
- 2003–2004 Tierre Brown, Charleston Lowgators
- 2004–2005 Matt Carroll, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2005–2006 Marcus Fizer, Austin Toros
- 2006–2007 Randy Livingston, Idaho Stampede
- 2007–2008 Kasib Powell, Sioux Falls Skyforce
- 2008–2009 Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
All-Star Game MVP
- 2006–2007 Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Fort Worth Flyers
- 2007–2008 Jeremy Richardson Fort Wayne Mad Ants
- 2008–2009 Blake Ahearn, Dakota Wizards and Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
Rookie of the Year
- 2001–2002 Fred House, North Charleston Lowgators
- 2002–2003 Devin Brown, Fayetteville Patriots
- 2003–2004 Desmond Penigar, Asheville Altitude
- 2004–2005 James Thomas, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2005–2006 Will Bynum, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2006–2007 Louis Amundson, Colorado 14ers
- 2007–2008 Blake Ahearn, Dakota Wizards
- 2008–2009 Othyus Jeffers, Iowa Energy
Defensive Player of the Year
- 2001–2002 Jeff Myers, Greenville Groove
- 2002–2003 Mikki Moore, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2003–2004 Karim Shabazz, Charleston Lowgators
- 2004–2005 Derrick Zimmerman, Columbus Riverdragons
- 2005–2006 Derrick Zimmerman, Austin Toros
- 2006–2007 Renaldo Major, Dakota Wizards
- 2007–2008 Mouhamed Sene, Idaho Stampede and Stephane Lasme, Los Angeles D-Fenders
- 2008–2009 Brent Petway, Idaho Stampede