In April, the NBA Development League wrapped up its record-setting 2015-16 season with the Sioux Falls Skyforce hoisting the championship trophy. Fast forward to 2016-17 and the landscape of the league will look totally different.
What took shape between April and now? First and foremost, five new teams continued preparing for their inaugural season, bringing the D-League one step closer to its ultimate vision — 30 minor-league teams for 30 NBA parent clubs.
Recap that and more:
Five new NBA D-League teams will begin play this November, including three expansion teams…
- Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets)
- Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets)
- Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls)
… and two relocated teams:
- Northern Arizona Suns (Phoenix Suns); formerly the Bakersfield Jam
- Salt Lake City Stars (Utah Jazz); formerly the Idaho Stampede
Free agency ruled the basketball calendar beginning in July, and many players whose journeys included NBA D-League stints cemented their place in the big league this offseason.
Among the most notable news: Hassan Whiteside becoming the centerpiece in Miami; Jeremy Lin beginning the next chapter of his career in Brooklyn; and Westchester Knicks product Langston Galloway booking a homecoming with the Pelicans.
— HandleLife (@dribble2much) July 21, 2016
Basketball never stops, as they say, and that especially rings true for players who’ve gone through the NBA D-League grind. Watch some of the top alums put in offseason work.
The seventh annual NBA D-League Elite Mini Camp, a two-day scouting event featuring 39 of the league’s top prospects, was held at Chicago’s Quest Multisport gym on May 9 and 10.
Before the NBA Draft’s top prospects converged in the “Windy City” for their Combine, the NBA D-League’s camp offered standouts from the past season another chance to perform in front of NBA team personnel in advance of Summer Leagues and 2016 training camps.
More than 40 percent of players who participated in this year’s NBA Summer Leagues in July had NBA D-League experience. Standouts included Spurs guard Jonathon Simmons, Cavs guard Jordan McRae and Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones, the Samsung NBA Summer League MVP who shined for the Idaho Stampede last season.
The NBA D-League Select Team also competed in Vegas for the seventh time, posting a 3-2 record.
The NBA Development League’s annual National Tryout returned to New York City’s Basketball City on August 14 with a new format. This time around, in addition to the regular crop of open registration players, the league invited players selected from a pool of college, Summer League and/or Portsmouth Invitational Tournament prospects.
Standouts from the morning open registration session advanced to play in the afternoon invitees session. Participants in this year’s tryout included former UConn guard Sterling Gibbs, former South Florida center Jaleel Cousins – younger brother of Kings center DeMarcus Cousins – and 21-year-old Palpreet Singh, who emerged from a new Indian talent search program, ACG NBA Jump.
Three new teams means an influx of talent to three new rosters, and the Bulls, Nets and Swarm began to acquire that talent in the 2016 NBA D-League Expansion Draft on August 24. Each team acquired the rights to 12 players from a pool of the league’s other 19 teams.
Draft picks included NBA vets Justin Dentmon, Gary Forbes, Jamaal Franklin, Jerel McNeal, Toure Murry and Damien Wilkins.
The path from the NBA Development League to the NBA is becoming well-traveled not only on the court, but on the sidelines, as well.
Four active NBA head coaches got started in the NBA D-League: Dave Joerger (Kings), Quin Snyder (Jazz), Earl Watson (Suns) and Luke Walton (Lakers); Watson and Walton were hired as their franchise’s head coaches this spring.
That makes NBADL head coaching hires more and more significant with each passing offseason. The new crop of head coaches who will be patrolling the minor league’s sidelines in 2016-17 includes former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse, who assumes the helm of Raptors 905.
All 22 teams held open tryouts, offering pro basketball hopefuls another chance to turn heads. A few of this year’s tryouts included surprise guests: media members, who documented the experience of trying out for a pro team.
Impress at Summer League, free agent mini-camp or a private workout, and prospects advance to the final steps on the path to an NBA roster: training camps and the preseason.
For alums with their roster spot set in stone, training camp means the official start of basketball season. Several completed underdog stories by making NBA Opening Night rosters for the first time.
As the NBA’s research and development arm, the NBA D-League continues to serve as a research and development resource for the NBA, testing rules, equipment and technological advancements.
This year’s rules changes include the “reset timeout,” the shot clock resetting the 14 seconds after offensive rebounds, and a 75-second limit on the duration of replay reviews.