Let me begin by saying that I love NBA Basketball, especially the playoffs. The game is faster, more physical and the stakes are much higher. That being said I believe that the NBA has a fantastic tool that they are not using to it’s fullest potential. The NBA Development League or D-League for short.
For those that don’t know the D-league features 16 teams from around the country, all of which have at least one NBA parent team, and four of their teams have four parent teams. My own personal experience with the D-League began in the 2009-2010 season which coincided with the first year of the Maine RedClaws. I worked at 96.3 FM in Portland, Maine as one of the producers and Board operators. So for two seasons I saw and heard virtually every minute of every game. I kept thinking to myself that this was a great product, and wondered why the NBA wasn’t using it as more of a tool.
It’s not as though the D-League isn’t putting players into the NBA, quite the opposite actually. This season alone one hundred and thirty two NBA players have D-League experience. So in that aspect the D-League is doing a fine job.
The NBA has made a few changes over the years to help their teams to use the D-League more effectively, in December of 2011 as part of the new collective bargaining agreement NBA teams are allowed to assign veteran players to their D-League affiliate with their permission. Then in 2012 it was announced that NBA teams would be allowed to assign players with less than three years experience to their D-League affiliate with no limits on the number of assignments. Both good rules in my opinion.
However there is something I would love to see that has no chance of ever happening. I would like to see the NBA eliminate the one year college rule. I would propose that the NBA add a third round to their entry draft and allow High school seniors to declare for the draft. In the third round NBA teams would have the option of picking a high school player or a college player.
Here’s where it gets interesting. If an NBA team picks a high school senior, that player would join the NBA union at a fair rookie pay scale, and be assigned to the D-League for at least one full season. Here are the advantages, First the NBA and D-League team get a marketing tool, someone to draw crowds to the D-League games and a player to look forward to at the NBA level. The player would get pro coaching as he would be allowed to attend NBA training camp.
At the end of one year of service time the NBA team would have a choice of adding the player to the pro roster, trading the player or allowing the player to re-enter the NBA draft where he would be available to every team.
The player would also benefit from playing a full 50 game schedule so he would be less likely to hit the rookie wall when he does get to the NBA.
I know this will never happen, it’s just my thoughts.