D-League Would Benefit Most From Ending Max Contracts

What would happen to NBA landscape if the NBA a true free market enterprise?

Zach Harper, in a recent article on Grantland.com, explored this idea with the idea of removing the Max Contract option for players.  By limiting how much players can make via Max Contracts, the NBA is making it easier for star players to join forces and keep the elite talent restricted to a few teams.  Removing the cap and max contracts will help ensure that the talent gets spread around more teams.

With teams being able to throw money at up and coming players, championship contenders and lottery teams alike, will need to be able to reload quickly.

Enter the NBA D-League.

With more NBA teams having the own D-League affiliate, they are acknowledging that just simply drafting young players with tons of upside is not enough. The draftees are not coming to the NBA and not making the impact they expected.

With the Max Contracts taken away, players will be going towards the highest bidder and most likely moving on to a new team for a bigger payday.

The original team will need to have players ready in the wings.

With the D-League affiliate running the same system as the NBA team, teams will be able to have group of players that will hit the ground running after being called up.

The guess work, on how a player will fit in to a system (i.e. Richard Jefferson’s stint with the San Antonio Spurs), will be decreased due to the exposure the player will have in the D-League affiliate.  Even un-drafted rookies or players that had little playing time with their NBA teams can gain valuable experience.

The intricate Spurs’ system is a good example of the benefits of having the D-League.  The coaching staff can spend more time teaching the players what reads are and what variations can be run rather than the basics of where to be in the system.

So Toros’ fans, how would you feel if the NBA decided to do away with the Max Contracts.

Draft Lottery Showing the Value of the NBA D-League

With the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the Lottery for the 3rd time since 2011, the question arises of whether the NBA is doing a disservice to their draftees.

You are suppose to get better with the #1 pick but if you are still in the draft lottery after getting the #1 pick twice, something is missing/wrong.

In the past the leagues weaker teams would get draftees that were ready to lead a team right away. Now you still get talented players, with them going to college for a year, they still need time to develop to their full potential. Players are getting thrust into bad teams where they are asked to carry the offense and change the culture of the organization.

Looking at the results of the NBA Draft Lottery since 2000, you realize there are more misses than hits. Franchise players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, and Kevin Durant have become the exceptions rather than the rule.

Enter the NBA D-League and their goal for each NBA team to have their own league affiliate.  Turnover in league should be reduced. Now draftees that are NBA ready will be able to join their NBA team, but those players that need more seasoning can get the one on one instruction needed with a coaching staff familiar with the offensive style by the NBA team they are affiliated with.

This way the NBA team can ensure when the draftee is called upon, they will make the maximum impact rather than leaving them to fend for themselves at the end of the bench. Teams will be provided with extra bodies with smaller learning curves that they can call up due to injuries.

Even un-drafted players will benefit, by having the extra eyes attending their games to ensure the team’s first round pick is developing, they may notice some of the other players as well.

An option could also be enacted where if a player goes to the D-League, their rookie contract could be modified.  So that way, teams are not afraid of developing a player only to have the player go to another team and that team reap the benefits.

So Toro’s fans, how would you feel bout seeing this year’s first round pick cutting his teeth down in Austin?

Courtney Fells Going Camping With the D-League Elite

People are always looking for the next level.

Whether it is in regards to work, sports, or any endeavor achieving the next level is always being desired.
For the players in the D League the next step is to be on a NBA team’s roster.  So with this point in mind that 37 D-League players attended the D-League Elite Mini Camp was held in at Chicago’s Quest Multisports gym on May 12th and 13th.
Among list of players listed below was Courtney Fells of the Austin Toros.










Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate School NBA D-League Team
D. Bell-Holter C 6-9 245 4/13/90 Oral Roberts Maine Red Claws
Dee Bost G 6-2 176 10/12/89 Miss. State Idaho Stampede
Matt Bouldin G 6-5 215 1/17/88 Gonzaga Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Gilbert Brown F 6-6 215 9/5/87 Pittsburgh Canton Charge
Justin Brownlee F 6-7 230 4/23/88 St. John’s Erie BayHawks
J. Carmichael F 6-9 241 1/2/90 Illinois State Iowa Energy
Will Cherry G 6-1 180 2/8/91 Montana Canton Charge
Pat Christopher G 6-5 209 6/3/88 California Iowa Energy
M. Cummings F 6-6 240 12/21/88 Kennesaw St. Bakersfield Jam
Olek Czyz F 6-8 240 3/3/90 Nevada Canton Charge
AJ Davis F 6-6 210 11/14/87 J. Madison Sioux Falls Skyforce
Brian Davis C 6-9 250 12/31/86 Texas A&M Reno Bighorns
Shane Edwards F 6-7 220 5/31/87 Arkansas-LR Canton Charge
Courtney Fells G 6-5 205 9/20/86 NC State Austin Toros
Jeff Foote C 7-0 265 7/14/87 Cornell Springfield Armor
Abdul Gaddy G 6-3 195 1/26/92 Washington Maine Red Claws
L. Goulbourne F 6-8 230 4/6/89 Vanderbilt Santa Cruz Warriors
Jamelle Hagins C 6-9 240 10/19/90 Delaware RGV Vipers
Terrell Harris G 6-5 190 8/10/87 Ok. State Bakersfield Jam
Dennis Horner F 6-9 230 2/5/88 NC State Bakersfield Jam
Dario Hunt F 6-9 245 5/2/89 Nevada RGV Vipers
Travis Hyman C 7-0 245 7/12/87 Bowie State LA D-Fenders
Lewis Jackson G 5-10 165 9/20/89 Purdue Erie BayHawks
Ra’shad James G 6-1 195 1/26/90 Northwood Reno Bighorns
DeQuan Jones F 6-8 221 6/20/90 Miami Reno Bighorns
Tre Kelley G 6-0 188 1/23/85 S. Carolina Sioux Falls Skyforce
CJ Leslie F 6-9 209 6/25/91 NC State Erie BayHawks
DeAndre Liggins G 6-6 209 3/31/88 Kentucky Sioux Falls Skyforce
Mario Little F 6-6 210 12/29/87 Kansas Tulsa 66ers
Trent Lockett G 6-5 210 12/10/90 Marquette Reno Bighorns
Kalin Lucas G 6-1 195 5/24/89 Mich. State Iowa Energy
Josh Magette G 6-1 160 11/28/89 UAHuntsville LA D-Fenders
Zeke Marshall C 7-0 235 12/13/90 Akron Maine Red Claws
Alex Oriakhi C 6-9 255 6/21/90 Missouri Sioux Falls Skyforce
Isaiah Wilkerson G 6-3 215 11/13/90 NJIT Tulsa 66ers
CJ Williams G 6-5 225 2/6/90 NC State LA D-Fenders
Rodney Williams F 6-7 200 7/23/91 Minnesota Delaware 87ers

This will be a great opportunity for these players to show there progress, in both drill work and full court games, in front of NBA team personnel in hopes of getting an invite to the Summer League and eventually to training camp.

From last year’s Elite Mini Camp, 27 of the attendees went on to play in Summer Leagues in Las Vegas or Orlando.  Eight of that group went on to get invitations to training camps. Tour’e  Murry  and Hollis Thompson stayed on the roster for the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers respectively for the entire 2013-2014 season.

So Toros’ fans, here is to seeing

NBA D-league: Hard Work Beginning to Pay Off

Nothing worthwhile comes easy or quickly.download

When the NBA D-league started their journey eight years ago, they knew they were undertaking a venture that would take a while to bear fruit. Now, eight years later, the league is starting to see the fruits of its labor. Through various milestones that helped gain the attention of the NBA league and team executives.

While the D-League may never match the popularity of the NBA, it is starting to gain a foothold in the sports landscape.  For the fifth straight year, league attendance has topped the one million person plateau for the regular and post season.

As more people start to follow the D-League, they are beginning to notice the high level in the quality of the level of play.  Along with the increase in the number of eyes beginning to watch the games; CBS Sports Network has decided to throw their support behind the league and joined the NBA and You Tube to televise 400 games, highlights and short form digital content for the next season.

As advertisers start to see more networks getting behind the league, they begin to see the chance to improve the exposure of their products.  This season six teams were able to get jersey partnerships.

TEAM                                              PARTNER

Erie BayHawks                               LECOM

Fort Wayne Mad Ants                    Lutheran, Hospital

Rio Grande Valley Vipers                Lone Star National Bank

Texas Legends                              Veracruz, Mexico

Springfield Armor                           MGM Springfield

Los Angeles D-Fenders                 MGM Resorts International


The league’s success was not just limited to off the court.

The league’s primary mission was to provide a place for young players in the NBA to gain playing experience.  This season 62 NBA players (including 10 where first round picks in the 2013 NBA Draft) played for their NBA team’s assigned D-League squads for a record 187 times along with 36 D-League players who got 49 Gatorade Call-ups.

Former D-League players currently comprise a third of the players currently in the NBA and 149 players were on NBA rosters by the end of the season.

NBA teams are starting to see the having their own team that they can use to help develop young players.  This season fourteen of the leagues seventeen teams had exclusive deals to be an affiliate for a NBA teams.  Next season the league will have eighteen teams with the New York Knicks getting their affiliate in Westchester, New York and the Detroit Pistions getting their affiliate in Grand Rapids.

The D-League also announced the players that made up their honorable mention teams.

Position                         Player                                   NBA D-League Team         

Guard                            Dee Bost                                Idaho Stampede

Guard                            Frank Gaines                         Maine Red Claws

Guard                            Cameron Jones                     Santa Cruz Warriors

Guard                            Mustafa Shakur                     Tulsa 66ers

Forward                         Patrick Christopher               Iowa Energy

Forward                         Ike Diogu                              Bakersfield Jam

Forward                         Courtney Fells                      Austin Toros

Forward                         Damion James                      Texas Legends

Forward                         Darius Johnson-Odom          Springfield Armor

Center                           Melvin Ely                              Texas Legends

Center                           Tim Ohlbrecht                        Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Center                           Willie Reed                            Reno Bighorns/Springfield Armor

So with the thirteenth season in the books, here’s to looking towards the Austin Toros getting back on track to regaining the D-League crown.

2013-2014 Austin Toros: A Look Back

As the 2013 -2014 NBA D-League season comes to a close, teams are looking back at the season along with their rosters and doing one of two things.  They are looking at what adjustments they need to make as they begin their journey in to the playoffs or they are evaluating their players’ performances with an eye towards next year.

Unfortunately for the Austin Toros, they find themselves in the cellar of the NBA D-League’s Central Division and looking towards how to prepare for next season.

While their 19-31 record left much to be desired, the Toros were be among league leaders in field goal percentage at 46.7%.

pittmanGoing in to next season, the team will have to work on improving the on the offensive end.  While they were among the league leaders in field goal percentage, their offense in the paint was slowed down by their lack of three-point shooting.  The Toros averaged 8.1 shots made which put them among the bottom half of the league.   Defenses were able to clog the paint due to not having to worry bout guarding as tightly on the perimeter.

The traffic in the paint also prevented guards from being able drive to the basket.  As a result, the Toros were tied with the Erie BayHawks for the least amount of free throw attempts per game with 43.3 trips per game.

On the defensive side of the court, the Toros excelled at protecting the rim.  Opponents shot 33 percent within 10 feet.  The mid-range to the perimeter areas are where teams hurt them, shooting 38 percent from these areas of the floor.

Among the Toros players that spent a majority of the 2013-2014 season with the team, Ronald “Flip” Murray led the team with a 21.8 points per game average. Dexter Pittman was among league leaders with 2.3 blocks per game. Myck Kabongo was not far down the list with 2.0 blocks per game

In order for the Toros to reclaim the NBA D-League title, they will need to get back to basics and focus on protecting not only the paint but making sure opponents get tough looks from the perimeter and on mid-range jumpers as well.


Toros close out season with win over Vipers

The Austin Toros closed out their 2013-14 season on Saturday with a win over the RGV Vipers.

The Vipers were playing for playoff seeding, while the Toros came in with an 18-31 record that eliminated them from the playoffs. Previously, the Toros were 1-6 against the Vipers, but a 129-125 win ruined the Vipers’ chances at the Central division title..

The Toros were led by Flip Murray, who scored 32 points, and Courtney Fells, who finished with 28 points and six rebounds.

If you missed the game, you can catch the full replay below.

Sponsors, jersey logos, and the NBA

Photo by Ronald Oswalt

Photo by Ronald Oswalt

As online gaming operators join the sponsorship market, will we finally see more corporate logos on NBA jerseys, taking a cue from several D-League teams?

While jersey sponsorships are the norm in international basketball, and the WNBA also now sells jersey sponsorships, we’re starting to see more and more D-League teams sport logos. It’s also very well known that the NBA treats the D-League as it’s R&D arm, so is there a chance NBA teams will have logos on their jerseys like the Texas Legends did during Sunday night’s game against the Toros. 

During the height of online gaming’s entry into the New Jersey market late last year, we saw the beginning of what could become conceivably become the norm in a few years’ time: online casino sponsorships of NBA teams. The Philadelphia 76ers were the first to enter into such a deal alongside the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

The practice is relatively new in the US, but online casino sponsorship has become a tried and true tradition in Europe. So much so that it’s become a major factor in the money league list compiled by Deloitte every year. Online gaming operators constantly court high-profile soccer teams in bids to be what has become known as official online partners. The companies pour money into their sponsored teams’ development funds while reaping the increased exposure afforded by having their logos plastered on everywhere from team uniforms to stadiums.

“It’s basically the same as sponsorship deals in the US, except that over here there’s no advertising on jerseys. Well, not yet, anyway, because if the aforementioned deals prove fruitful then it may come to pass that we’ll see more teams sign up with online gaming operators. The Warriors or the Cavaliers, for example, might join with medieval-themed online casino site castlejackpot.com due to the whole medieval fighters theme in their names. Maybe even the Wizards could get in on that, with the Suns and the Thunder signing up with either an energy production or energy drink company.”

At the very least, it may reignite talk of corporate logos on team jerseys. You’ll remember that there was some talk about the NBA opening its arms to jersey sponsorships a few years ago. The league approached the possibility cautiously through limited deployment in its Development League teams in 2012. During that time, financial services company BBVA got its logo splashed across the back of team jerseys used in the D-League playoffs.

A number of teams also inked sponsorship deals of their own. The Springfield Armor, for example, rocked jerseys with the MGM Springfield logo. The Erie BayHawks and Rio Grande Valley Vipers signed similar sponsorship deals with LECOM and Lone Star National Back, respectively. The Toros have a partnership with supermarket chain H-E-B, although so far only our WNBA team, the Stars, has the sponsor logo on its official jersey.

While that particular experiment didn’t successfully reach the majors, that doesn’t mean it definitely won’t happen. Now that new corporate entities are entering the sponsor landscape, there’s no telling exactly what the future holds.

Toros acquire Steven Smith

Austin, TX – The Austin Toros look to bolster their roster with the addition of 6-foot-9 forward Steven Smith. A product of La Salle, Smith played all four of his collegiate years for the explorers from 2002-06. He averaged 18.1 points, and eight rebounds in 107 games with La Salle. He played two seasons at La Salle with former San Antonio Spur and current Milwaukee Buck Gary Neal.

The Philadelphia native went undrafted, but ended up on his hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers. He played eight games with the 76ers, the only eight games he’s ever played in the NBA.

Smith then went on to play international ball with the Anaheim Arsenal from 2007-2008, the Solsonica Rieti and Kolossos Rodou from 2008-2009, Panellinios 2010-2011, Panathinaikos from 2011-2012 and he most recently played for the Italain league team Virtus Bologna.

Smith played his first game with the Toros in a loss to the Iowa Energy on March 27. He played 9:18 minutes, registering three points on 1-6 shooting, two rebounds and two steals.

Toros dogged by Legends 92-92 on Hoops and Hounds night

Toros fans were joined by their pets for the Toros' Hoops and Hounds promotion. (Photos by Ronald Oswalt)

Toros fans were joined by their pets for the Toros’ Hoops and Hounds promotion. (Photos by Ronald Oswalt)

CEDAR PARK– In a close match, the Austin Toros came up short to the Texas Legends 92-93 Sunday evening at the Cedar Park Center. The game was titled “Hoops and Hounds” and fans were allowed to bring their pets to the game.

The game was well received by pet lovers, who had their own section and were featured in several in-game promotions. The announced attendance was 2,945 for the game.

The Toros dominated first half action leading 56-43, but the second half was in favor of the visiting Legends 50-36.

Toros guard Flip Murray led all scorers with 21 points and seven rebounds. Dexter Pittman recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jonathan Simmons and Courtney Fells added 16 points respectively.

The Legends were paced by Mavericks-assigned Ricky Ledo who scored 18 points off the bench. Marcus Hubbard finished with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds.

The Toros got off to an early lead, outscoring the Legends 30-20 in the first quarter. Luke Zeller was a perfect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from beyond the arc to record 10 points. Going into halftime, the Toros led 56-43.

The Legends began to chip away at the Toros lead, outscoring them 21-14 in the third quarter and 29-22 in the fourth. With just seconds remaining, former Longhorn Damion James went to the line sinking his second attempt to put the Legends up 93-92 for the eventual win.

The Toros (17-31) play their last home game on April 3rd against the Canton Charge. The Legends (23-25) continue their road trip as they take on the Sioux Falls Skyforce April 4th.

Scouting the Los Angeles D-Fenders

Tip: 7:30 p.m., Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, Texas
Streaming: YouTube


Off. efficiency: 109.5 points per 100 possessions, 2nd
Def. efficiency: 105.6, 10th
Net rating: +3.9, 1st
Pace: 109.5 possessions per game, 1st

Four factors

Effective FG pct: 52.5, 3rd
Turnover pct: 12.9, 1st
Off. rebound pct: 23.5, 17th*
FTA rate: .275, 16th
Opp. effective FG pct: 52.0, 12th
Opp. turnover pct: 17.8, 4th
Def. rebound rate 69.1, 16th
Opp. FTA rate: .277, 3rd

The leaders

Points: Terrence Williams, 21.3
Rebounds: Travis Hyman/James Southerland, 6.8
Assists: Josh Magette, 7.1
Blocks: Hyman, 2.1
Steals: Magette, 1.8


The Los Angeles D-Fenders have the league’s highest net rating, and they are three games behind the first-seeded Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The D-Fenders have few flaws — even their defense, ranked 10th, which allows way too many shots in the restricted area (38.9 per game), does enough to complement the offense through turnovers and avoiding foul trouble. The offense, second to only Rio Grande, shoots a high percentage from the field, and those shots are generally high-percentage looks (restricted area, corner 3-pointers). They rarely turn the ball over, too; their 12.9 percent turnover rate is the lowest in the D-League.

Where they excel

Controlling the pace. Los Angeles averages 109.5 possessions per 48 minutes, the highest-mark in the D-League. They utilize about seven extra possessions relative to league-average. Their frenetic pace — even in losses, they average 108 possessions — fuels their second-ranked offense and allows them to pressure their opponents into an uncomfortable position.

Where they struggle

Protecting the rim. In an average game against the D-Fenders, the opposition takes about 40 percent of their shots in the restricted area. It’s damn near impossible to build a good defense that way, since protecting the rim is the area on the floor defenses prioritize to take away. The D-Fenders also allow nearly seven corner 3-pointers a game, which is excessive even at their dramatic pace.

Player to watch

Terrence Williams. He’s a massive part of the offense — he leads the team in field goal attempts (18.0), 3-pointers (6.9) and free throws (5.9).

Stats: NBA D-League/Stats

* There are only 17 teams in the D-League.