Big changes coming to NBA D-League

Ryan Shea

The D-league has historically been a place no NBA hopeful wants to be, or any fan for that matter. The players make on average between $20k-$25k a year, while only a handful make it through to the NBA. So why play in it?

Players can make starting salaries between $65k-$100k in Europe or China while crafting their game to NBA standards. For basketball fans, why watch it? The players on the team aren’t exclusive to your favorite team due to the fact that not every NBA team owns a D-League team; there are only 22 D-League teams and 30 NBA teams. It isn’t yet a true minor league and is mocked by many.

Sure, you have a few surprises here and there between 1st round picks on pro rosters being sent down for assignment. Hassan Whiteside nearly made the All-Star game last year (and should this year) after bouncing around training camps and D-League rosters for several years before finally breaking through with the Heat. He now blocks more shots than the league commissioners have to a potential Seattle Supersonics return.

But all-star level talent developing out of the D-League isn’t something that normally happens – like NFL players do on practice squads. Fact is, they know how awful their talent retention rate is.

That’s all about to change

The NBA is getting ready to announce a new collective bargaining agreement in the next few weeks and one of their top priorities is addressing the D-league. Word on the street is they are planning on adding 2 swing player positions that can bounce between NBA rosters and the D-League while getting paid NBA player level salary. This should be more exciting then a DJ Stephens slam, right?

Yeah that’s right, it’s like junior high and high school when you hopped between junior varsity and varsity all over again. Except this is the big leagues, with a fresh new system that should help with the oft-complained about talent gaps and lack of developmental structure that exists in the NBA. Who’s not going to put legitimate effort into selecting and developing a player when they have to pay them league level money? Vivek Ranadive? Maybe. But chances are we should see a whole lot more then just Hassan Whiteside pushing an all-star bid.

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