January 5, 2013; Orlando FL, USA; A basketball on the court between the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Defining the NBA D-League

This is a guest post from Adam Johnson, editor of Sea Dubs Central, a site that covers the Santa Cruz Warriors. Adam is also a contributor to CrabDribbles and BayAreaSports Guy. You can follow him on twitter @AdamJNBA, and follow his site @SeaDubsCentral

With the decision to enter a one-to-one affiliation with the Erie BayHawks, the Orlando Magic are embracing the NBA D-League and all it has to offer to its organization. Magic GM Rob Hennigan is behind the move with his ties to Oklahoma City and how they treat their minor league team, the Tulsa 66ers.  

While the journeys of Gerald Green and Jeremy Lin to superstardom are far-and-few between, the NBADL serves a purpose for those teams that are willing to put in the energy behind developing young players to contribute at the end of the bench.

The Magic have only assigned two players in the last nine seasons (Daniel Orton, 2010-11, Marcin Gortat, 2007-08) to play in the D-League according to the NBA D-League’s Official Assignments Page.  To say creating a one-to-one affiliation is a culture shock would be an incredible understatement.

The NBA D-League is currently comprised of 18 teams, 17 of which are one-to-one affiliations much like Orlando has with Erie.  Their relationship is known as a hybrid, where Erie controls the business side of the operation, while the Magic decide what happens in basketball ops much like the relationship with Phoenix (Bakersfield), Utah (Idaho) among others.

 The other side is teams that are owned outright by their parent club like Golden State (Santa Cruz), Cleveland (Canton), and the newly formed New York team out of Westchester.  

More and more teams each year are understanding the benefits of having a D-League team and it’s shown to be crucial to a team’s development at the end of the bench.  Case in point, among the 17 teams last season in the D-League, eight of the team’s parent clubs made it to the playoffs, and one player made an even bigger mark on the postseason last year.

Troy Daniels of the Houston Rockets put the rest of the world on notice after his clutch three to win a postseason game this past season.  While on assignment for the majority of the season with the team’s D-League counterpart, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Daniels excelled from 3-point range shooting 40% from deep on a whopping 599 attempts from long-distance.

But it took just one shot to make a difference.

Was the time spent in the D-League the sole reason for Daniels’ success?  While doubtful, it’s not unreasonable to think Daniels was better served with quality minutes on assignment as opposed to sitting at the end of the Rockets’ bench waiting for garbage time to get a chance to play on the hardwood floor.

That’s what the NBADL offers to teams truly invested in helping develop role players that can take over at a moment’s notice as team’s can utilize similar offensive schemes in the minor league for players to familiarize themselves with.  Want to know if someone can run the point or is better suited in off-ball situations?  You can find out in the D-League.

THE NBADL is also a place where teams can experiment with different sets on offense to find out what works for them there that could possibly translate in the Association.  Coming back to the Vipers, Rockets GM Daryl Morey along with RGV head coach Nevada Smith committed themselves to either attacking the basket of shooting three-pointers, thus eliminating the need for a mid-range game.  The Vipers averaged an insane 45 3-point attempts per contest.  While an extreme case to say the least, the desire to tinker and tweak plays and offensive sets shows the D-League is ripe with creativity and ideas abound from numerous teams.

Dewayne Dedmon was tremendous while playing for Santa Cruz this season, showing off his talents and eventually finding his way to the Orlando Magic.  He’s a raw, yet talented individual who was the perfect candidate to perform in the D-League an undrafted prospect.  That’s the power of the NBADL as it provides new opportunities for players that might not see them otherwise.  

If a player is coming back from injury or needs reps to re-gain their confidence they can be assigned to the team’s affiliate to make it happen.  The D-League should be an extension of their parent club and depending how much time and energy the Magic want to invest in their minor league affiliate, they could reap the rewards sooner rather than later.

Here are some quick hits with some basic D-League info for those unfamiliar with the league.

*An NBA squad can only assign a maximum three players at one time.

*FIBA goaltending rules are played in the D-League, meaning players can swipe the ball away while it remains in the cylinder.

*The minimum age to play in the D-League is 18, unlike the NBA which is 19.

*There is no limit to the number of times a player can be assigned.

*Even if a player is on assignment with their D-League club, they still hold a roster spot with their parent club.

*The maximum number of active players on a D-League roster is 10 (not including NBA assignment players).

Tags: Erie BayHawks NBA D-League Orlando Magic

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