28 Teams In 28 Days: Meet The Grand Rapids Drive

By Jake Winderman | August 29, 2018

Team: Grand Rapids Drive

First Season: 2006-2007 (Anaheim Arsenal)

Affiliate: Detroit Pistons

Location: Walker, Michigan

Arena: DeltaPlex Arena

Head Coach: Ryan Krueger

Former Franchise Names: Anaheim Arsenal (2006-2009), Springfield Armor (2009-2014)

Mascot: Buckets

2018-19 Finish: 28-22 (1st in Central Division), lost in Eastern Conference First Round

2018-19 Accolades: Kalin Lucas (All-NBA G League 3rd Team)

Current Two-Way Players: Jordan Bone (Tennessee) and Louis King (Oregon)

Notable Alumni: Henry Ellenson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jordan Crawford, Kay Felder, Darrun Hilliard, Brandon Jennings, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Willie Reed, Svi Mykhailiuk, Khyri Thomas, Bruce Brown

The Grand Rapids Drive joined the NBA G League as the Anaheim Arsenal during the 2006-2007 season along with the Northern Arizona Suns (Bakersfield Jam), South Bay Lakers (Los Angeles D-Fenders), Salt Lake City Stars (Idaho Stampede) and Texas Legends (Colorado 14ers). The Arsenal spent three short seasons in California before moving to Springfield, Massachusetts for the 2009-2010 season. Anaheim had two players named to All-NBA G League teams in James White (Second Team) and Jawad Williams (Third Team).

Between 2009 and 2014, the Grand Rapids Drive called Springfield home, playing five seasons as the Armor. During the 2011-2012 season, the Armor entered into a single affiliation with the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the second NBA G League team to do so, along with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets). The Armor had four players named to All-NBA G League Teams including Jeff Foote and Kris Joseph to the Second Team, and Dennis Horner and Jerry Smith to the Third Team.

Prior to the 2014-2015 season, the Armor were bought by the SSJ Group, in affiliation with the Detroit Pistons, and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The organization is run under a hybrid model in which the SSJ Group runs the team’s business operations, while the Pistons run the franchise’s basketball operations.

Before the 2014-2015 season, a name-the-team contest was held to determine the newly relocated franchise’s nickname. The four options were “Chairmen,” due to Grand Rapids’ old nickname of the “Furniture City,” “Blue Racers” in reference to a type of snake found in parts of Michigan, “Horsepower” in reference to their NBA affiliate and “Drive” for similar reasons. Ultimately, the Drive won 78 percent of the online vote and was chosen as Grand Rapids’ new nickname.

The Drive qualified for the NBA G League playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. They also won their second division title in franchise history and the first as the Grand Rapids Drive.