The NBA is a widely known and fun league. It boasts great success in the U.S. and around the world. Its merchandise sells in the billions of dollars and its players are some of the most recognizable in the world of sports. Many professional sport leagues have a minor league system that develops players to get them ready for the rigors of the professional game. Major League Baseball is the best example of having a minor league system that readies its players for the professional game. For much of its existence, the NBA has never had a minor league system in place. Players generally come from the college basketball ranks or from smaller professional leagues in Europe and Asia. This created a vacuum for players who were good college players but were not ready for the NBAs faster, stronger and more physical style of play.
In 2001, the NBA created the NBA Development League, or D-League for short. This league started out with 8 teams located mostly in the Southeastern United States. The league was successful and started to see an impact on developing players to be ready for the NBA. In 2005, Commissioner David Stern gave plans to expand the D-League to 15 teams and turn it into a true minor league basketball system. The additional 7 teams were located in the South and Midwestern United States.
Teams are allowed to draft players and then assign them to the D-League. In the D-League, players are trained in the ways of NBA style basketball. The D-League has been especially helpful for European and Asian players who come from different styles of basketball. As of the start of the 2011 season, it is known that 23% of all current NBA players had spent some amount of time in the NBA’s D-League. It is evident that the NBA has grown a formidable and enviable minor league system in a very short period of time. The NBA and its current teams and players should reap the benefits from this wonderful minor league system.← Back