NBA Development League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2016–17 NBA Development League season
NBA Development League logo
|No. of teams||22|
|Country||United States, Canada|
|Sioux Falls Skyforce
|Most titles||Three teams (2 titles)|
|TV partner(s)||ESPN/NBA TV/NBA TV Canada/YouTube|
The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until the summer of 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. At the conclusion of the 2013–14 NBA season, 33% of NBA players had spent time in the NBA D-League, up from 23% in 2011. Beginning in the 2016–17 NBA Development League season, the league will consist of 22 teams; all of whom will be either single-affiliated or owned by an NBA team.
- 1 History
- 2 Teams
- 3 Honors
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The league began its play as the NBDL in the 2001–02 season; the original eight franchises were all located in the southeastern United States (specifically in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia).
In the summer of 2005, some of these teams were purchased by private owners and relocated—at the same time the league's name was changed—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; however, that will change in the 2016–17 season when the Greensboro Swarm (D-League affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets) makes its debut becoming the first Southeastern NBA D-League team in years. On November 5, 2009, the Texas Legends made history by hiring Nancy Lieberman as head coach, the first female head coach to lead an NBA or NBA D-League team.
On January 4, 2010, the league announced its first national television agreement with Versus. Select D-League games and a majority of the playoffs were aired on Versus for two seasons, before the league's national TV contract was moved to the CBS Sports Network for the subsequent two years. Since the 2014–15 season, nationally-televised NBA D-League games are currently aired on ESPNU. Select games are also streamed live on YouTube.
On March 10, 2014, the New York Knicks announced that they had acquired the right to own and operate an NBA D-League team that will play in White Plains, New York. The new team became the NBA D-League's 18th team and is the exclusive affiliate of the New York Knicks, playing its home games at the Westchester County Center, approximately 30 miles north of New York City. With the purchase, the Knicks become the seventh NBA team to fully own and operate their own NBA D-League affiliate.
On May 27, 2015, it was announced that the Toronto Raptors would receive their own team in the Greater Toronto Area for the 2015–16 season. On June 29, 2015 it was announced that the team will play in the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario and would be named Raptors 905. The team is named after the area code that covers most of Toronto's suburbs.
For the 2016–17 season, the D-League expanded by three NBA parent club owned teams and the largest D-League expansion since 2007. In May 2015, the Charlotte Hornets were the first organization to announce that they planned to bring an NBA D-League team to the Carolinas in 2016. After considering several cities and arenas, the Hornets settled on Greensboro, North Carolina, with its home to be at the Pavilion at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex announced the team name as the Greensboro Swarm. In June 2015, Brooklyn Nets also announced its intentions to place a D-League team in Brooklyn. The team announced on November 5, 2015, that they reached a final agreement for their new D-League team, to be called the Long Island Nets, to play in a renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which itself was the home of the Nets during their ABA years. The team will play in their parent team's home, Barclays Center, for their first season. In October 2015, the Chicago Bulls also began pursuing an expansion franchise in nearby Hoffman Estates, and to play in the Sears Centre, in time for the 2016–17 season. On November 9, 2015, the Hoffman Estates board unanimously approved the Bulls' proposed NBA D-League team which became the Windy City Bulls.
Currently the league is split into two Conferences: Eastern and Western. In the Eastern Conference there are there are two divisions: Atlantic and Central. The Atlantic Division includes: the Delaware 87ers, the Erie BayHawks, the Greensboro Swarm, the Long Island Nets, the Maine Red Claws, and the Westchester Knicks. The Central Division includes: the Canton Charge, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Grand Rapids Drive, Raptors 905, and the Windy City Bulls. In the Western Conference there are two divisions: Southwest and Pacific. The Southwest Division includes: the Austin Spurs, the Iowa Energy, the Oklahoma City Blue, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and the Texas Legends. The Pacific Division includes: the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Northern Arizona Suns, the Reno Bighorns, the Salt Lake City Stars, and the Santa Cruz Warriors.
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. 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.
The 2010 D-League All-Star game was held on February 13, 2010, at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas. The Western Conference team defeated the Eastern Conference Team, 98–81. Bakersfield Jam center Brian Butch, who scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, was named as the MVP of the game. The NBA D-League also ran their third annual Dream Factory Friday Night events. The inaugural Shooting Stars Competition was won by a team of Pat Carroll, Trey Gilder and Carlos Powell. The Three-Point Shootout was won by Andre Ingram of the Utah Flash, and the Slam Dunk Contest was won by Dar Tucker of the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
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), Boise, Idaho (2010), South Padre Island, Texas (2011), and Reno, Nevada in 2012 and 2013, and Santa Cruz, California in 2015.
The NBA D-League Draft occurs each season and is the major source from which teams build their rosters. Team rosters are made up of returning players (players who were on the team during the previous season), allocated players (players who have local significance), and drafted players. The 8 round draft utilizes a "serpentine" format, meaning the order alternates in each round; Team A who selected first in Round 1 will select last in Round 2, while Team B who selected last in Round 1 will get the first pick in Round 2. Round 3 was added in 2014
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 two (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 Spurs), 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. An NBA player will continue to be paid his NBA salary and will continue to be included on his NBA team's roster on the inactive list while playing in the D-League. 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. The tallest player ever to be assigned is Hasheem Thabeet, the second player selected in the 2009 NBA draft. The tallest player to ever play, though, was the Canadian Sim Bhullar, who would play alongside one of the shortest players in Tajuan Porter during the 2014–15 season at for the Reno Bighorns.
NBA teams can call up players as many times as they choose, and there is no limit to the number of times an NBA player with three years or less experience can be assigned to the D-League. Starting in 2011–12, veteran NBA players could be assigned with their consent. The first example of such was with Yi Jianlian, who the Dallas Mavericks assigned to the Texas Legends for two games.
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 successful NBA careers include Hassan Whiteside, Rafer Alston, Louis Amundson, Chris Andersen, Kelenna Azubuike, 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, and 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, Avery Bradley, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Marcin Gortat, Ramon Sessions, Jeremy Lin, Danny Green and Martell Webster.
Currently, 32 players with D-League experience have won an NBA title: one (Tremaine Fowlkes) with the Detroit Pistons in 2003–04, two (Devin Brown and Mike Wilks) with the San Antonio Spurs in 2004–05, two (Earl Barron and Dorell Wright) with the Miami Heat in 2005–06, one (James White) with the San Antonio Spurs in 2006–07, one (Gabe Pruitt) with the Boston Celtics in 2007–08, one (Sun Yue) with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008–09, three (Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Josh Powell) with the Lakers in both 2008–09 and 2009–10, four (José Juan Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, and Dominique Jones) with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010–11, two (Dexter Pittman and Terrel Harris) with the Heat in 2011–12, two (Jarvis Varnado and Chris Andersen) with the Heat in 2012–13, a record six (Aron Baynes, Austin Daye, Danny Green, Damion James, Cory Joseph, and Patty Mills) with the Spurs in 2013–14, four (Ognjen Kuzmic, James Michael McAdoo, Justin Holiday, and Festus Ezeli) with the Golden State Warriors in 2014–15, and three (Dahntay Jones, Sasha Kaun, and Jordan McRae) with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015–16. Bobby Simmons and Aaron Brooks are the only former D-League players to win an NBA end-of-season award; both won the Most Improved Player Award with Simmons getting it with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004–05 and Brooks earning it with the Houston Rockets in 2009–10.
In the 2008 NBA draft, the Idaho Stampede's Mike Taylor was drafted 55th by the Portland Trail Blazers. 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. In the 2010 NBA draft, the Tulsa 66ers' Latavious Williams was drafted 48th by the Miami Heat and later traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA team affiliated with the 66ers. One year later, in the 2011 draft, the Bakersfield Jam's Chukwudiebere Maduabum was drafted 56th by the then-affiliated Los Angeles Lakers and later traded to the Denver Nuggets. Glen Rice, Jr. of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers was the highest D-League draftee (at the time) in the 2013 draft, when he was selected 35th by the Philadelphia 76ers and traded to the Washington Wizards. At the 2014 draft, two D-League players were selected for the first time: P. J. Hairston was drafted 26th (which was also the first time a D–League player was drafted in the first round in the NBA) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo was the 51st pick.
- As the Utah Flash.
- As the Huntsville Flight.
- As the Springfield Armor.
- As the Columbus Riverdragons.
- As the Asheville Altitude.
- Played in the Continental Basketball Association and the International Basketball League (1999–2001) before joining the NBA D-League in 2006.
- As the Colorado 14ers.
- Did not field a team for the 2010–2011 season.
- As the Bakersfield Jam.
- Played as the Idaho Stampede in the Continental Basketball Association before joining the NBA D-League in 2006.
- As the Dakota Wizards; Played in the International Basketball Association and the Continental Basketball Association before joining the NBA D-League in 2006.
Team ownership and NBA affiliations
Ownership models vary across the NBA D-League. Growing willingness among NBA organizations to invest in the D-League has led to two main models: direct ownership of D-League teams by parent NBA clubs and single-affiliate partnerships in which the D-League team remains independently owned while the parent club runs and finances basketball operations.
Parent club direct ownership began in 2006 when the Los Angeles Lakers bought their own NBA D-League franchise followed by the San Antonio Spurs purchasing the Austin Toros in 2007 and the Oklahoma City Thunder purchasing the Tulsa 66ers in 2008. This led to more NBA teams to either purchase existing franchises or create expansion teams in order to have their own single-affiliation teams. In 2011, the Cleveland Cavaliers purchased the New Mexico Thunderbirds to become the Canton Charge and the Golden State Warriors purchased the Dakota Wizards. In 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers purchased the inactive Utah Flash and moved them to Newark, Delaware, as the Delaware 87ers. In 2015, the Toronto Raptors created their own expansion franchise, the Raptors 905.
In 2009, the Houston Rockets and Rio Grande Valley Vipers pioneered the single-affiliate partnership, also known as the hybrid model. In November 2010, the New Jersey Nets and Springfield Armor announced they would enter into a single-affiliate partnership that began in 2011–12. In June 2011, the New York Knicks and Erie BayHawks announced they would be single-affiliated. In May 2012, the Portland Trail Blazers entered into a single-affiliated partnership with the Idaho Stampede. The following month, the Boston Celtics and Maine Red Claws announced a single-affiliation partnership. In June 2013, the Miami Heat announced that they had entered into a single-affiliated partnership with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. In July 2013, the Sacramento Kings and Reno Bighorns entered into a single-affiliation. The Stampede ended their affiliation with the Trail Blazers after the 2013–14 season and in June 2014 announced their affiliation with the Utah Jazz. The Armor moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan after the 2013–14 season and affiliated with the Detroit Pistons. In May 2014, the Memphis Grizzlies and Iowa Energy entered into a single-affiliation partnership. In 2015, the last multiple affiliate team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, was purchased by the Indiana Pacers making the 2015–16 season the first with all teams having single-affiliations.
In some cases, the hybrid affiliation led to the parent team buying the D-League franchise outright. On March 24, 2015, the Utah Jazz purchased their affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, and after one more season in Boise relocated the team to Salt Lake City. On April 11, 2016, the Phoenix Suns purchased their affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, and announced the immediate relocation of the team to Prescott Valley, Arizona as the Northern Arizona Suns beginning with the 2016–17 season. On October 20, 2016, the Sacramento Kings bought the majority ownership of their affiliate of the previous eight seasons, the Reno Bighorns.
Parent club ownership: Austin Spurs (by the San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Delaware 87ers (by the Philadelphia 76ers), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (by the Indiana Pacers), Greensboro Swarm (by the Charlotte Hornets) Long Island Nets (by the Brooklyn Nets), Los Angeles D-Fenders (by the Los Angeles Lakers), Northern Arizona Suns (by the Phoenix Suns), Oklahoma City Blue (by the Oklahoma City Thunder), Raptors 905 (by the Toronto Raptors), Reno Bighorns (by the Sacramento Kings), Salt Lake City Stars (by the Utah Jazz), Santa Cruz Warriors (by the Golden State Warriors), Westchester Knicks (by the New York Knicks), and the Windy City Bulls (by the Chicago Bulls).
Single affiliation/hybrid model: Erie BayHawks (with the Orlando Magic), Grand Rapids Drive (with the Detroit Pistons), Iowa Energy (with the Memphis Grizzlies), Maine Red Claws (with the Boston Celtics), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (with the Houston Rockets), Sioux Falls Skyforce (with the Miami Heat), and the Texas Legends (with the Dallas Mavericks).
NBA teams without an exclusive affiliate: Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, and Washington Wizards.
Future expansion teams and locations
Expansion has been scarce over the years; however, by the 2016–17 NBA D-League season, three new franchises will begin play as affiliates for the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, and the Chicago Bulls. Since then, there have several NBA organizations and ownership groups looking to add a D-League team.
On October 12, 2015, it was announced that Omaha, Nebraska, was pursuing a D-League franchise. Gary Green, the owner of the Omaha Storm Chasers, said the NBA approved the idea of a franchise while also mentioning the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets as possible affiliates. Green said, "We've had talks with the NBA and the guys in the D-League and they absolutely want to have a team in Omaha... We have a deal with the D-League in place, we just gotta find a franchise now." The potential home for an Omaha team could be CenturyLink Center Omaha, Ralston Arena, or Baxter Arena.
On January 6, 2016, the Orlando Magic announced that they had begun the process of bringing an NBA D-League team to Central Florida or Northern Florida and sent RFPs to eight possible homes and venues for the team: Daytona Beach (Ocean Center), Estero (Germain Arena), Fort Myers (Lee County Civic Center), Jacksonville (Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena), Kissimmee (Silver Spurs Arena), Lakeland (Lakeland Center), and two venues in Orlando (HP Field House and CFE Arena). The team would begin to play in the 2017–18 season and would be directly owned and operated by the Magic and not be a relocation of their current hybrid affiliation with the Erie BayHawks. On June 30, the Magic had narrowed the list down to two cities: Kissimmee and Lakeland.
On April 12, 2016, the former owners of the Bakersfield Jam, after selling the club to the Phoenix Suns, announced that they had been working with the D-League to secure a new franchise and affiliation before the 2016–17 season; however, the owners were not able get a team established prior to the 2016 deadline.
On May 23, 2016, it was reported that a group of investors were in discussions with the Milwaukee Bucks to place a D-League team in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. On June 9, 2016, it was reported that the La Crosse Center officials also approached the Milwaukee Bucks about being home to their future D-League team in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It has since been reported that Madison, Sheboygan, Green Bay, Racine, and Kenosha are also under consideration with each asked to submit bids to host the Bucks affiliate during the summer of 2016 in order to meet the Bucks' plans of having an affiliate by the 2017–18 D-League season. It has since been reported that La Crosse is no longer in the mix due to its lack of proximity to Milwaukee while Racine, Sheboygan, Oshkosh and Appleton remain as finalists.
Defunct / relocated teams
Current teams in tan
Former teams or former names in blue
Announced future teams in green
List of Champions
|2010||Rio Grande Valley Vipers|
|2013||Rio Grande Valley Vipers|
|2014||Fort Wayne Mad Ants|
|2015||Santa Cruz Warriors|
|2016||Sioux Falls Skyforce|
- Most Valuable Player
- Finals MVP
- All-Star Game MVP
- Defensive Player of the Year
- Impact Player of the Year
- Most Improved Player
- Rookie of the Year
- Coach of the Year
- Sportsmanship Award
- Team Executive of the Year
- Basketball Executive of the Year
- All-D-League Team
- All-Defensive Team
- All-Rookie Team
- Development Champion
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- Chicago Bulls say they'd promote Sears Centre big time with D-team
- Chicago Bulls development team may play at Sears Centre next year
- Bulls seek local NBA Development League franchise in Hoffman Estates
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- "CBA Principal Deal Points". NBA. August 4, 2005. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
The player will continue to be paid his NBA salary and will continue to be included on his NBA team's roster (on the inactive list) while playing in the NBADL.
- "D-League lowers the age requirement to 18". ESPN.com. ESPN. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
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- "Simmons Named Most Improved". NBA.com. April 28, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "Rockets' Brooks named NBA's most improved player". NBA.com. April 23, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- "Idaho's Mike Taylor Becomes First D-League Player Drafted By An NBA Team". NBA.com. June 26, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "Latavious Williams Becomes Second Player Drafted By NBA Team". NBA.com. July 25, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- "Lakers Trade Draft Rights To Chukwudiebere Maduabum". NBA.com. June 23, 2011.
- "Glen Rice Jr. Becomes Fourth NBA D-Leaguer Selected in NBA Draft". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. June 28, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
- "Phoenix Suns Buy Bakersfield Jam; Relocate Team to Prescott Valley, Arizona". OurSports Central. April 12, 2016.
- "Sacramento Kings Buy Controlling Interest in NBA Development League's Reno Bighorns". OurSports Central. October 20, 2016.
- "NBA Development League Expands to Record 20 Teams as Hornets Sports & Entertainmnet Purchases Team". Charlotte Hornets. October 27, 2015.
- Report: MiLB team owner says ‘deal in place’ for D-League expansion in Omaha
- TBL: Storm Chasers owner Gary Green discusses the Mets playoff chances and NBDL news for Omaha
- "Orlando Magic officially looking to bring D-League team to Florida". Orlando Magic Daily. January 7, 2016.
- "Kissimmee, Lakeland finalists for Magic's D-League location". Orlando Sentinel. June 30, 2016.
- Will Timberwolves come here for D-League?
- "Phoenix Suns Purchase Bakersfield Jam". OurSports Central. April 12, 2016.
- "Bakersfield Jam will not return for 2016-17 NBADL season". The Bakersfield Californian. June 11, 2016.
- "Milwaukee Bucks say no to La Crosse as D-League site". La Crosse Tribune. August 2, 2016.