NBA Development League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2016–17 NBA Development League season
NBA Development League logo
|No. of teams||22 (25 in 2017–18)|
|Country||United States, Canada|
|Sioux Falls Skyforce
|Most titles||Three teams (2 titles)|
|TV partner(s)||ESPN/NBA TV/NBA TV Canada/Facebook Live|
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 season, the league consists of 22 teams; all of whom are 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 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. Shortly after, the league announced expansion teams in the Anaheim Arsenal and the Los Angeles D-Fenders. The D-Fenders became the first D-League team to be directly owned by an NBA parent team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, the westward expansion contributed to the contraction of the NBA-owned Roanoke Dazzle and Fayetteville Patriots for that season. The Florida Flame suspended operations due to arena scheduling difficulties. After the 2006–07 season, there would be no more teams in the southeastern United States until the 2016 expansion team, the Greensboro Swarm.
After the 2006 to 2009 expansions, the league membership was fairly consistent with only a few relocations and suspensions. In 2009, the Houston Rockets entered into the first single-affiliation partnership, called the hybrid model, with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. This began a wave of NBA and D-League teams entering into single-affiliation agreements of both the hybrid and parent-team owned varieties. With more NBA involvement, the league once again began to expand and spread its footprint.
By 2015, the last multiple-affiliate team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, was purchased by the Indiana Pacers leading to the first season where all D-League teams were affiliated with only one NBA team. As there were no longer any unaffiliated D-League teams left, the remaining NBA teams began purchasing expansion franchises or hybrid partnership teams and placing them near the parent team. In 2015, the Toronto Raptors placed their own team, Raptors 905, in the Greater Toronto Area in Mississauga, Ontario. In 2016, the D-League expanded by three more NBA parent club owned teams for the largest D-League expansion since 2007. The Charlotte Hornets created the Greensboro Swarm, the Brooklyn Nets created the Long Island Nets, and the Chicago Bulls created the Windy City Bulls.
In the 2017–18 season, the D-League is set to enter into a multiyear partnership with Gatorade and will be rebranded as the NBA Gatorade League or G-League. It also continued its membership changes with the relocation of the Erie BayHawks to Lakeland, Florida, a new Erie BayHawks franchise, and expansion in a Mid-South team in Southaven, Mississippi, and a Fox Valley team in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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), Reno, Nevada in 2012 and 2013, Santa Cruz, California in 2015, and Mississauga, Ontario in 2017.
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-year 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 at 7'3", the second player selected in the 2009 NBA draft. The tallest player to ever play in the D-League was England's Paul Sturgess at 7'7", who played with the Texas Legends during the 2013–14 season.
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.
The 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement for the NBA, which takes effect with the 2017–18 season, includes changes to D-League allocation rules. While most D-League players will continue to be under contract to the league, each NBA team will be allowed to sign two players to so-called "two-way contracts," with the players still primarily being a part of a team's D-League roster, but can freely move to their respective NBA team for up to 45 days in the regular season, as well as be a part of the team's roster before the start of the season (including NBA training camps) and after the conclusion of the D-League's regular season. Players under two-way contracts are not counted against the NBA team's regular roster limit, and can be assigned to a D-League affiliate for development while also getting a larger salary whenever they are called up to the parent team. For teams that do not have a one-to-one affiliation with a D-League team, a process similar to the "flexible assignment" rule will be used to determine the placement for their own "two-way contracts" in the D-League until every team has their proper affiliation underway. In addition, the salary for D-League players will increase to between $50,000 and $75,000.
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 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, Hassan Whiteside, 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.
- 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.
- Did not field a team for the 2010–2011 season.
|Announced future teams|
|Team||City||Arena||Capacity||Founded||Joining||Head coach||NBA affiliate||Ownership|
|College Park||College Park, Georgia[a]||Georgia International Convention Center||3,500||2017[a]||2019||TBA||Atlanta Hawks||Parent club|
|Erie BayHawks[a]||Erie, Pennsylvania||Erie Insurance Arena||6,750||2017||TBA||Atlanta Hawks||Parent club|
|Fox Valley||Oshkosh, Wisconsin||Oshkosh Arena||3,500||2017||TBA||Milwaukee Bucks||Parent club|
|Lakeland Magic[a]||Lakeland, Florida||Lakeland Center||8,178||2008||2017||TBA||Orlando Magic||Parent club|
|Mid-South||Southaven, Mississippi||Landers Center||8,362||2017||TBA||Memphis Grizzlies||Parent club|
- The original Erie Bayhawks, at the time an affiliate of the Orlando Magic, were fully purchased and moved to Lakeland as the Lakeland Magic starting with the 2017 season. However, the Atlanta Hawks will begin operating their new development franchise in Erie, intending to move it to College Park once a new arena at Georgia International Convention Center is completed.
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 2014, the New York Knicks became the seventh team to fully own and operate their own NBA D-League affiliate in the Westchester Knicks. 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. On December 14, 2016, the Magic purchased their affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, and intends to relocate the team to Lakeland, Florida, in 2017.
Parent club ownership: Austin Spurs (by the San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Delaware 87ers (by the Philadelphia 76ers), Erie BayHawks (by the Orlando Magic), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (by the Indiana Pacers), Greensboro Swarm (by the Charlotte Hornets) Long Island Nets (by the Brooklyn Nets), South Bay Lakers (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: 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 with future affiliation: Atlanta Hawks (with Erie BayHawks by parent club ownership in 2017), Milwaukee Bucks (with Fox Valley by parent club ownership in 2017), and Minnesota Timberwolves (with the Iowa Energy by parent club ownership in 2017)
Future expansion teams and locations
Expansion in the league was slow for the first years, but has rapidly increased since the movement towards single-affiliate teams has become the norm.
Confirmed expansion and relocations
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 would not be a relocation of their then hybrid affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. On June 30, the Magic had narrowed the list down to two cities: Kissimmee and Lakeland. On December 14, 2016, the Magic purchased the BayHawks and will relocate the team to Lakeland for the 2017–18 season.
On November 10, 2016, the Atlanta Hawks announced that they had bought and established a new D-League team that will play in a new arena in nearby College Park beginning with the 2019–20 season. Beginning in 2017–18, the Hawks' D-League franchise will play as the Erie BayHawks, following the Magic's purchase of that franchise, until the arena in College Park is completed.
On January 23, 2017, the Minnesota Timberwolves purchased the majority ownership of the Iowa Energy, which currently had a hybrid affiliation with the Memphis Grizzlies. That same day, the Memphis Grizzlies announced they would be purchasing a new expansion team based in the Memphis suburb of Southaven, Mississippi, and playing at the Landers Center.
Expansion candidate locations
On September 17, 2015, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said that the team's planned practice facility, to be located in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., would be the full-time home of the WNBA's Washington Mystics. Leonsis also revealed at the time that there is a "serious discussion" about also having a D-League team play at the facility when it opens in 2018.
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, Rochester, Minnesota, filed paperwork to host the D-League affiliate of the Minnesota Timberwolves to play out of the Mayo Civic Center. However, when the Timberwolves purchased the Iowa Energy, there was no mention of relocating the team.
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 March 30, 2017, the New Orleans Pelicans announced their intentions to have an owned-and-operated development team by the 2018–19 season located in the Gulf South region. The organization then announced they are looking at 11 different locations: Mobile in Alabama; Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Shreveport, St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana; Gulfport-Biloxi and Jackson in Mississippi; and Pensacola, Florida. On April 13, 2017, the City of Jackson drafted a letter of intent to the Pelicans with the proposal for the team to play out of the Mississippi Coliseum.
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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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.
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- 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
- Will Timberwolves come here for D-League?
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