- NBA Development League
NBA Development League (NBA D-League)
NBA Development League logo
Sport Basketball Founded 2001 Inaugural season 2001–2002 No. of teams 16 Country(ies) United States Continent FIBA Americas (Americas) Most recent champion(s) Iowa Energy (1st title) Most titles Asheville Altitude (2 titles) TV partner(s) NBA TV
Official website NBA D-League
The NBA Development League, or NBA 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 2010–11 season, the league consists of 16 teams. At the conclusion of the 2010–11 NBA season, 23 percent of NBA players had spent time in the NBA D-League.
- 1 History
- 2 Player allocations
- 3 Teams
- 4 Champions
- 5 Awards and honors
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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. 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. Versus is slated to carry 10 regular season games and 6 playoff games throughout 2010, airing on Saturday nights beginning January 16.
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.
The 2010 D-League All-Star game was held on February 13, 2010, at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. 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 in 2011.
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 selected last in Round 2, while Team B who selected last in Round 1 will get the first pick in Round 2, et cetera.
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. 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 highest player ever to be assigned is Hasheem Thabeet, the second player selected in the 2009 NBA draft.
NBA teams can call up players as many times as they choose, but a player can be assigned to the NBA D-League only 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 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, 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, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Marcin Gortat, Ramon Sessions and Martell Webster.
In the 2009–10 NBA season, a record of 27 players have been called up for a record 40 times. Several of those players earned a season-long contracts after being key contributors, including Anthony Tolliver, Chris Hunter and Reggie Williams (all Golden State Warriors), Sundiata Gaines (Utah Jazz), Chris Richard (Chicago Bulls), and Mario West (Atlanta Hawks).
Currently, there are only 12 players with D-League experience who won an NBA title: Tremaine Fowlkes with the Detroit Pistons in 2003–04; Devin Brown and Mike Wilks with the San Antonio Spurs in 2004–05; Earl Barron and Dorell Wright with the Miami Heat in 2005–06; James White with the San Antonio Spurs in 2006–07; Gabe Pruitt with the Boston Celtics in 2007–08; and, Sun Yue and Shannon Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers, Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell in 2008–09,and 2009-10, and most recently Jose Juan Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi and Dominique Jones with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010-2011. Bobby Simmons and Aaron Brooks are the only former D-League players to win an NBA end of season award; Simmons won the Most Improved Player Award with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004–05 and Brooks won the Most Improved Player Award with the Houston Rockets in 2009–10.
In the 2008 NBA Draft, Idaho Stampede's Mike Taylor was drafted 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, Tulsa 66ers' Latavious Williams was drafted by the Miami Heat and later traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA team affiliated with the 66ers.
Thirty-five former NBA D-League players were on the 2006–07 NBA opening day roster. The number increased to 44 players in 2007–08 and then 60 players in 2008–09. In the 2009 NBA Playoffs, an all-time high of 49 players were named to playoff rosters, 17 of whom also spent time in the D-League that season. In the 2009–10 season and the 2010–11 season, the number of former D-League players on NBA opening day roster increased and reached the all-time high of 63 players.
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 owner of the Halifax Rainmen, has previously pursued ownership of a D-League team in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Other possible locations for D-League teams include Hartford, Connecticut; Little Havana, Florida; Trenton, New Jersey; Brooklyn, New York; Harlem, New York; Lexington, Kentucky; Toledo, Ohio; Youngstown, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee; Burlington, Vermont; Richmond, Virginia; and Quebec, Canada in the East; and Nogales, Arizona; Malibu, California; Norwalk, California; Santa Monica, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lincoln, Nebraska; Las Vegas, Nevada; St. George, Utah; Beaumont, Texas; and Wenatchee, Washington in the West.
Ownership models vary across the NBA D-League. Independent owners control most of the league’s teams, but growing willingness among NBA organizations to invest in the D-League has led to two other 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.
The Houston Rockets and Rio Grande Valley Vipers pioneered the single-affiliate partnership, also known as the hybrid model, in 2009–10. In November 2010, the New Jersey Nets and Springfield Armor announced they will enter into a single-affiliate partnership beginning in 2011–12. In June 2011, the New York Knicks and Erie BayHawks announced they will be single-affiliated.
Parent club ownership: Austin Toros (by the San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Dakota Wizards (by the Golden State Warriors), Los Angeles D-Fenders (by the Los Angeles Lakers), Tulsa 66ers (by the Oklahoma City Thunder)
Team City Active Year(s) NBA Affiliates Notes Utah Flash Orem, Utah 2007–2011 Utah Jazz ("local" affiliate), Atlanta Hawks Suspended by owners, team for sale
Team City Active Year(s) NBA Affiliates Notes Albuquerque/New Mexico Thunderbirds Albuquerque, New Mexico 2005–2011 Phoenix Suns ("local" affiliate), New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers moved to Canton, Ohio Anaheim Arsenal Anaheim, California 2006–2009 Los Angeles Clippers ("local" affiliate), Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Atlanta Hawks moved to Springfield, Massachusetts Arkansas RimRockers Little Rock, Arkansas 2004–2007 Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat Suspended by owners 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 Fort Myers, Florida 2001–2007 Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves Folded by owners Fort Worth Flyers Fort Worth, Texas 2005–2007 Dallas Mavericks ("local" affiliate), Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers Suspended 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
Current teams in tan
Former teams or former names in blue
Season Winner Score Runner-up 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 2009–2010 Rio Grande Valley Vipers 136–131, 94–91 Tulsa 66ers 2010–2011 Iowa Energy 123–106, 122–141, 119–111  Rio Grande Valley Vipers
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.
Awards and honors
Most Valuable Player
- 2001–02 Ansu Sesay, Greenville Groove
- 2002–03 Devin Brown, Fayetteville Patriots
- 2003–04 Tierre Brown, Charleston Lowgators
- 2004–05 Matt Carroll, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2005–06 Marcus Fizer, Austin Toros
- 2006–07 Randy Livingston, Idaho Stampede
- 2007–08 Kasib Powell, Sioux Falls Skyforce
- 2008–09 Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
- 2009–10 Mike Harris, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
- 2010–11 Curtis Stinson, Iowa Energy
Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year
- 2006–07 Bryan Gates, Idaho Stampede
- 2007–08 Bryan Gates, Idaho Stampede
- 2008–09 Quin Snyder, Austin Toros
- 2009–10 Chris Finch, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
- 2010–11 Nick Nurse, Iowa Energy
Rookie of the Year
- 2001–02 Fred House, North Charleston Lowgators
- 2002–03 Devin Brown, Fayetteville Patriots
- 2003–04 Desmond Penigar, Asheville Altitude
- 2004–05 James Thomas, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2005–06 Will Bynum, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2006–07 Louis Amundson, Colorado 14ers
- 2007–08 Blake Ahearn, Dakota Wizards
- 2008–09 Othyus Jeffers, Iowa Energy
- 2009–10 Alonzo Gee, Austin Toros
- 2010–11 DeShawn Sims, Maine Red Claws
Defensive Player of the Year
- 2001–02 Jeff Myers, Greenville Groove
- 2002–03 Mikki Moore, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2003–04 Karim Shabazz, Charleston Lowgators
- 2004–05 Derrick Zimmerman, Columbus Riverdragons
- 2005–06 Derrick Zimmerman, Austin Toros
- 2006–07 Renaldo Major, Dakota Wizards
- 2007–08 Mouhamed Sene, Idaho Stampede, and Stephane Lasme, Los Angeles D-Fenders
- 2008–09 Brent Petway, Idaho Stampede
- 2009–10 Greg Stiemsma, Sioux Falls Skyforce
- 2010–11 Chris Johnson, Dakota Wizards
Impact Player of the Year
- 2007–08 Morris Almond, Utah Flash
- 2008–09 Eddie Gill, Colorado 14ers
- 2009–10 Brian Butch, Bakersfield Jam
- 2010–11 Jeff Adrien, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Most Improved Player
- 2009–10 Mildon Ambres, Idaho Stampede
- 2010–11 Dar Tucker, New Mexico Thunderbirds
Executive of the Year
- 2009–10 Jon Jennings, Maine Red Claws
- 2010–11 Bert Garcia, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award
- 2001–02 Mike Wilks, Huntsville Flight
- 2002–03 Billy Thomas, Greenville Groove
- 2005–06 Ime Udoka, Fort Worth Flyers
- 2006–07 Roger Powell, Arkansas RimRockers
- 2007–08 Billy Thomas, Colorado 14ers
- 2008–09 Will Conroy, Albuquerque Thunderbirds
- 2009–10 Andre Ingram, Utah Flash
- 2010–11 Larry Owens, Tulsa 66ers
All-Star Game MVP
- 2007 Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Fort Worth Flyers
- 2008 Jeremy Richardson, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
- 2009 Blake Ahearn, Dakota Wizards and Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
- 2010 Brian Butch, Bakersfield Jam
- 2011 Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
All-NBA Development League Team
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- ^ NBA Development League: Austin at Idaho
- ^ NBA Development League: Utah at Colorado
- ^ NBA Development League: Tulsa at Rio Grande Valley
- ^ NBA Development League: Rio Grande Valley at Iowa
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