The NBA Developmental League is an interesting move by the NBA to create a minor league system for basketball. It was founded in 2001 as the official minor leagues of the NBA; over that time it has produced roughly 27% of the NBA’s current players. According to the official website, it is the fastest way into the NBA for prospects, refs, coaches, and executives.
Currently seven D-League teams are affiliated with the NBA; but none of the players on the D-League rosters were drafted by the NBA teams. These rosters are filled out in a separate D-League draft; the draft order is determined by the worst record to the team with the best record that did not qualify for the playoffs. As for the teams that made the playoffs, they draft in reverse order of their records as well, but after those who failed to qualify. So for example, say the team in that won the Central Division has a worse record then the team that placed second in the Western Division; the second team in the Western Division drafts before the winner of the Central division.
Now this is different for most minor league systems because the parent organization (the major league club) drafts, and from that draft the minor league roster fills out. Eventually the players on the minor league roster get called up to the major league team. And you will even see corresponding demotions if a player on the major league roster is struggling and/or injured.
Since the D-League has it’s own drafts, if a player on their roster is called-up they are responsible for the corresponding roster moves. The NBA squad has no input on the D-League squad’s corresponding roster move. And this is where the D-League goes wrong in my opinion. It doesn’t really give the NBA squad an ability to develop itself for the long-term; the disconnect of the drafts and how roster moves are made do not help the NBA teams develop their draft picks.
Now the easiest way to fix this would to be to expand the NBA Draft, disband the D-League draft, and give the NBA more of a say in the roster moves that D-League squads make. You know what? The NBA rosters should be expanded to 3o players, fifteen of them in the NBA and the other 15 on an affiliated D-League roster.
The obvious benefits to this would be that the NBA squads could stash young talent in the D-League and develop them. That way NBA squads could bring up young talent to spell the veterans on the roster; it could help prevent NBA squads from going into long rebuilds after their current stars/players start to age. Not to mention the added benefit of pieces that can be traded for vets to fill a whole on a NBA team’s current roster, during a playoff run. Or in other words, make the D-League a true minor league system.
But that would make too much sense for the NBA.
Proud alum of Washington State University, crazy sports nut, and drinker of beer.