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.
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.
D-LEAGUE HONORABLE MENTION
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.