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NBA Development League (NBA D-League)
NBA Development League logo
Sport Basketball
Founded 2001
No. of teams 16
Country(ies)  United States
Most recent champion(s) Colorado 14ers (1st title)
Most championships Asheville Altitude (2 titles)
TV partner(s) NBA TV
Official website

The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until summer 2005 as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), the NBA D-League started with eight teams in the fall of 2001. In March 2005, NBA commissioner David Stern announced a plan to expand the NBA D-League to fifteen teams and develop it into a true minor league farm system, with each NBA D-League team affiliated with one or more NBA teams. For the 2009–10 season, the league consists of 16 teams. At the conclusion of the 2008-09 NBA season, 20 percent of NBA players had spent time in the NBA D-League.



The league began play as the NBDL in the 2001–2002 season; the original eight franchises were all located in the southeastern United States (specifically in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia). Some of these teams were purchased by private owners and relocated—at the same time the league's name was changed—in the summer of 2005, in a bid to appeal to more fans nationwide. As a result, franchises were established in or moved to Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Florida and Oklahoma. In February 2006, the D-League expanded to California for the first time with the addition of the Bakersfield Jam. Two months later, the league announced that four teams from the Continental Basketball Association were joining the league: the Dakota Wizards, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Idaho Stampede, and a team originally slated for CBA expansion, the Colorado 14ers.[1][2] A few days after that, the league announced that Anaheim, California, would be getting a team.[3] One week after that, they announced that the Los Angeles Lakers have purchased a team, making them the first NBA team to own a D-League team.[4] The westward expansion contributed to the contraction of the NBA-owned Roanoke Dazzle[5] and Fayetteville Patriots.[6] The Florida Flame have suspended operations due to arena scheduling difficulties. [7] Today, no NBA D-League teams remain in the league's original Southeastern footprint. On November 5, 2009, Frisco made history by hiring Nancy Lieberman as head coach, the first female head coach to lead an NBA or NBA D-League team.

On January 4, 2010, the league announced its first national television agreement with Versus. Versus is slated to carry 10 regular season games and 6 playoff games throughout 2010, airing on Saturday nights beginning January 16.


All-Star Game

The NBA Development League held its first All-Star game February 17, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was part of the NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. As with the NBA's showcase game, a fan vote determined the starting lineup for each team. The East won 114 to 100, with Pops Mensah-Bonsu named the game's MVP.[8]

The second annual All-Star game was held on February 16, 2008, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Blue team beat the Red team, 117–99 and Jeremy Richardson was named the MVP. In addition to the NBA D-League All-Star Game, the league debuted its first Dream Factory Friday Night events, which modeled after the NBA All-Star Saturday Night events. The events consists of Three-Point Shootout (won by Adam Harrington), Slam Dunk Contest (won by Brent Petway) and game of H.O.R.S.E. (won by Lance Allred).[9]

The 2009 D-League All-Star game was held on February 14, 2009, at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The Red Team defeated the Blue Team 113–103 and Blake Ahearn and Courtney Sims were named co-MVPs.[10] Along with the All-Star game, the NBA D-League ran their second annual Dream Factory Friday Night events. H.O.R.S.E., which debuted last year, was won by Will Conroy of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. The Three-Point Shootout was won by Blake Ahearn of the Dakota Wizards, and the Slam Dunk Contest was won by James White of the Bakersfield Jam.[11]

The 2010 D-League All-Star game was held on February 13, 2010, at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The Western Conference team defeated the Eastern Conference Team 98–81. Bakersfield Jam center Brian Butch, who scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, was named as the MVP of the game.[12] The NBA D-League also ran their third annual Dream Factory Friday Night events. The inaugural Shooting Stars Competition was won by a team of Pat Carroll, Trey Gilder and Carlos Powell. The Three-Point Shootout was won by Andre Ingram of the Utah Flash, and the Slam Dunk Contest was won by Dar Tucker of the Los Angeles D-Fenders.[13]

D-League Showcase

The league stages an annual NBA D-League Showcase in which all of the league's teams play each other in a "carnival" format. The Showcase was first played in 2005 was originally intended solely as a scouting event for NBA general managers and scouts, but has evolved into a fan-friendly four day event in which each team plays two games apiece. Since the inception of the event in 2005, there have been 15 players called-up or recalled during or immediately following the Showcase. The Showcase has been hosted in Columbus, Georgia (2005), Fayetteville, North Carolina (2006), Sioux Falls, South Dakota (2007), Boise, Idaho (2008), Orem, Utah (2009), and in Boise, Idaho (2010).


The NBA D-League Draft occurs each season and is the major source from which teams build their rosters. Team rosters are made up of returning players (players who were on the team during the previous season) allocated players (players who have local significance), and drafted players. The 10 round draft utilizes a "serpentine" format, meaning the order alternates in each round.

In the 2009 NBA D-League Draft, Latavious Williams, a 6-8 small forward of Christian Life Academy, became the first high school player in history to be drafted by the NBA D-League.

Player allocations

Players for NBA D-League teams do not sign contracts with the individual teams, but with the league itself. D-League team rosters consist of a total of 12 players, 10 (or fewer) being D-League players and 2 (or more) NBA players. The rosters are made up in a number of ways: the previous years' players, players taken in the D-League draft, allocation players (meaning players who are assigned to a team with which they have a local connection, such as a University of Texas player being assigned to the Austin Toros), NBA team assignments, and local tryouts. Each NBA team can assign two first or second year players to its affiliated D-League team. If more than two NBA players are assigned to a team, the team must reduce the number of D-League players to keep the total roster size to 12. Each team also has local tryouts, and one player from the tryouts is assigned to the team. The minimum age to play in the NBDL is 18,[14] unlike the NBA which requires players to be 19 years old and one year out of high school in order to sign an NBA contract or be eligible for the draft. The highest player ever to be assigned is Hasheem Thabeet, the second player selected in the 2009 NBA draft.

NBA teams can call up players as many times as they choose, but a player can only be assigned to the NBA D-League three times in a season.

Successful NBA call-ups

Many former NBA draftees, waived players and undrafted players have played in the NBA D-League. Some of the called-up D-League players that went on to have successful NBA careers include Rafer Alston, Louis Amundson, Chris Andersen, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes, Andray Blatche, Devin Brown, Will Bynum, Matt Carroll, Eddie Gill, Stephen Graham, Jason Hart, Chuck Hayes, Anthony Johnson, Dahntay Jones, Jamario Moon, Mikki Moore, Smush Parker, Bobby Simmons, Ime Udoka, Von Wafer, C. J. Watson, and Mike Wilks.[15] Aside from these players, there are several successful NBA players who were assigned to the D-League in their first and second season, such as José Juan Barea, Brandon Bass, Andray Blatche, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Marcin Gortat, Ramon Sessions and Martell Webster.[16]

Through March 16 of the 2009-10 NBA D-League season, 18 players have been called up 25 times, with many earning season-long contracts after being key contributors, including Sundiata Gaines (Utah Jazz), Anthony Tolliver (Golden State Warriors), Chris Hunter (Golden State Warriors), Chris Richard (Chicago Bulls), and Mario West (Atlanta Hawks).

Currently, there are only seven players with D-League experience who won an NBA title: Devin Brown with the San Antonio Spurs in 2004–05; James White with the San Antonio Spurs in 2006-07; Gabe Pruitt with the Boston Celtics in 2007–08; and Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell, Sun Yue and Shannon Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008–09. Among these six players, only Devin Brown and James White were called up from the D-League, while the other five players were assigned to D-League by their NBA teams. Bobby Simmons is the only former D-League player to win an NBA end of season award, taking Most Improved Player award with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004–05.[17]

In 2008 NBA Draft, Portland Trail Blazers drafted Mike Taylor from Idaho Stampede. He became the first player from the NBA D-League to be drafted by an NBA team. He was subsequently traded and signed a rookie contract with Los Angeles Clippers.[18]

Thirty-five former NBA D-League players were on the 2006–07 NBA opening day roster. The number increased to 44 players in 2007–08 and then 60 players in 2008–09.[16][19] In the 2009 NBA Playoffs, an all-time high of 49 players were named to playoff rosters, 17 of whom also spent time in the D-League that season.[20] In the 2009–10 season, the number of former D-League players on NBA opening day roster increased and reached the all-time high of 63 players.[21]

As of April 14, 2009, there are 143 call-ups to the NBA, involving 89 players. The franchise with the most call-ups in D-League history is Columbus/Austin (15). They are followed by Asheville Tulsa (14); Fayetteville (11); Colorado (9); Huntsville/Albuquerque, Charleston/Florida, Roanoke and Sioux Falls (8); Iowa (6); Fort Worth and Idaho (5); Dakota, Fort Wayne and Mobile (4); Bakersfield and Los Angeles (3); Rio Grande Valley and Anaheim/Springfield (2) and Arkansas, Erie, Greenville and Utah (1).[15]


Current teams

NBA Development League
Eastern Conference
Team City Arena NBA Affiliates
Dakota Wizards Bismarck, North Dakota Bismarck Civic Center Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards
Erie BayHawks Erie, Pennsylvania Louis J. Tullio Arena Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors
Fort Wayne Mad Ants Fort Wayne, Indiana Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks
Iowa Energy Des Moines, Iowa Wells Fargo Arena Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns
Maine Red Claws Portland, Maine Portland Exposition Building Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats
Sioux Falls Skyforce Sioux Falls, South Dakota Sioux Falls Arena Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves
Springfield Armor Springfield, Massachusetts MassMutual Center New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers
Western Conference
Team City Arena NBA Affiliates
Albuquerque Thunderbirds Albuquerque, New Mexico Tingley Coliseum Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets
Austin Toros Austin, Texas Austin Convention Center San Antonio Spurs
Bakersfield Jam Bakersfield, California Jam Events Center Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers
Idaho Stampede Boise, Idaho Qwest Arena Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles D-Fenders Los Angeles, California Staples Center Los Angeles Lakers
Reno Bighorns Reno, Nevada Reno Events Center Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings
Rio Grande Valley Vipers Hidalgo, Texas State Farm Arena Houston Rockets
Tulsa 66ers Tulsa, Oklahoma Tulsa Convention Center Oklahoma City Thunder
Utah Flash Orem, Utah McKay Events Center Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz
2010-11 Expansion/Relocation
Team City Arena NBA Affiliates
Frisco Frisco, Texas Dr Pepper Arena Dallas Mavericks

Future expansion and relocation

The Toronto Raptors are engaged in discussions to bring a D-League team to Southern Ontario,[22] most likely to Hamilton, but Oshawa remains a possibility.[23] The Inland Empire, California, region is also being considered as an expansion site.

The Manchester Millrats, of the Premier Basketball League (PBL), formed with a long-term goal of joining the D-League and had opened preliminary talks with the NBA about a partnership with the Boston Celtics and playing at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.[24] However, with the announcement of the Maine Red Claws as a Celtics affiliate, the future of the Millrats is unclear. [25]

The owner of the Halifax Rainmen, also of the PBL, is currently pursuing ownership of a D-League team in Halifax, Nova Scotia.[26] Other possibilities in the East for D-League teams include Toledo, Ohio;[27] Harlem, New York; Youngstown, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia; Little Havana, Florida; Trenton, New Jersey and Wenatchee, Washington in the West.[28]

Inactive teams

Team City Active Year(s) NBA Affiliates
Arkansas RimRockers Little Rock, Arkansas 2004–2007 Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat
Fort Worth Flyers Fort Worth, Texas 2005–2007 Dallas Mavericks ("local" affiliate), Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers

Defunct teams

Team City Active Year(s) NBA Affiliates Notes
Anaheim Arsenal Anaheim, California 2006–2009 Los Angeles Clippers ("local" affiliate), Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Atlanta Hawks moved to Springfield, Massachusetts
Asheville Altitude Asheville, North Carolina 2001–2005 N/A moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma
(North) Charleston Lowgators Charleston, South Carolina 2001–2004 Miami Heat ("local" affiliate), Orlando Magic ("local" affiliate), Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, moved to South Fort Myers, Florida
Colorado 14ers Broomfield, Colorado 2006–2009 Denver Nuggets ("local" affiliate), New Jersey Nets moved to Frisco, Texas
Columbus Riverdragons Columbus, Georgia 2001–2005 San Antonio Spurs moved to Austin, Texas
Fayetteville Patriots Fayetteville, North Carolina 2001–2006 Charlotte Bobcats ("local" affiliate), Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks Folded by league
Florida Flame South Fort Myers, Florida 2001-2007 Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves Folded by owners
Greenville Groove Greenville, South Carolina 2001–2003 None Folded by league
Huntsville Flight Huntsville, Alabama 2001–2005 Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mobile Revelers Mobile, Alabama 2001–2003 None Folded by league
Roanoke Dazzle Roanoke, Virginia 2001–2006 Washington Wizards ("local" affiliate), Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets Folded by league

League development

Year # Teams Expansion Teams Folded Teams Annexed Teams Suspended Teams Relocated Teams Renamed Teams
2001–02 8 Asheville Altitude
North Charleston Lowgators
Columbus Riverdragons
Fayetteville Patriots
Greenville Groove
Huntsville Flight
Mobile Revelers
Roanoke Dazzle
2002–03 8
2003–04 6 Greenville Groove
Mobile Revelers
Charleston Lowgators
2004–05 6 Charleston -> Florida Florida Flame
2005–06 8 Fort Worth Flyers Arkansas RimRockers Asheville -> Tulsa
Columbus -> Austin
Huntsville -> Albuquerque
Tulsa 66ers
Austin Toros
Albuquerque Thunderbirds
2006–07 12 Anaheim Arsenal
Los Angeles D-Fenders
Fayetteville Patriots
Roanoke Dazzle
Bakersfield Jam
Colorado 14ers
Dakota Wizards
Idaho Stampede
Sioux Falls Skyforce
Florida Flame
2007–08 14 Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Iowa Energy
Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Utah Flash
Florida Flame Arkansas RimRockers
Fort Worth Flyers
2008–09 16 Erie BayHawks
Reno Bighorns
2009–10 16 Maine Red Claws Anaheim -> Springfield
Colorado -> Frisco (will begin play in 2010–11)


Season Winner Score Runner-up
2001–2002 Greenville Groove 81–63, 75–68 North Charleston Lowgators
2002–2003 Mobile Revelers 92–82, 71–77, 75–72 Fayetteville Patriots
2003–2004 Asheville Altitude 108–106 (OT)[29] Huntsville Flight
2004–2005 Asheville Altitude 90–67[30] Columbus Riverdragons
2005–2006 Albuquerque Thunderbirds 119–108[31] Fort Worth Flyers
2006–2007 Dakota Wizards 129–121 (OT) Colorado 14ers
2007–2008 Idaho Stampede 89–95, 90–89, 108–101[32] Austin Toros
2008–2009 Colorado 14ers 136–131, 123–104[33] Utah Flash

Note: For the 2001–02 and 2002–03 seasons, (and resuming with the 2007–08 season onwards) the championship has been a best-of-three game series.


Most Valuable Player

All-Star Game MVP

Rookie of the Year

Defensive Player of the Year

Impact Player of the Year

See also


  1. ^ "Four teams to leave CBA for NBA Development League". Continental Basketball Association. 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  2. ^ "NBA Development League Expands To Four Cities". 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  3. ^ "NBA Development League Expands To Anaheim". 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  4. ^ Sheridan, Chris (2006-04-19). "NBA approves Lakers' ownership of D-League team". ESPN. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  5. ^ "D-League Will No Longer Operate Roanoke Dazzle". 2006-05-01. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  6. ^ "D-League Will No Longer Operate In Fayetteville". 2006-05-02. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  7. ^ "12 teams to comprise NBA Development League in 2007-08". 2006-05-08. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  8. ^ Brennan, Matthew (2007-02-21). "Mensah-Bonsu, East Team Come Out On Top". NBA. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  9. ^ Wurst, Matt (2008-02-16). "Stars Work, Play Hard in D-League All-Star Game". NBA. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  10. ^ "Sims And Ahearn Named Co-MVPs As Red Defeats Blue In All-Star Game". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 14, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  11. ^ "James White Soars To NBA D-League Slam Dunk Championship". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 13, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Brian Butch Captures MVP Honors In 2010 All-Star Game". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 13, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Haier Shooting Stars Set Record At Dream Factory Friday Night". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 12, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010. 
  14. ^ "D-League lowers the age requirement to 18". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  15. ^ a b "NBA Development League: All-Time Gatorade Call-Ups". 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  16. ^ a b "NBA Development League: Former D-Leaguers In The NBA". Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  17. ^ "Simmons Named Most Improved". 2005-04-28. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  18. ^ "Idaho’s Mike Taylor Becomes First D-League Player Drafted By An NBA Team". 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  19. ^ "60 Former NBA D-League Players On 2008 NBA Opening Night Rosters". 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  20. ^ "All-Time High 49 Players With NBA D-League Experience On NBA Playoff Rosters". 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  21. ^ "63 Former NBA D-League Players On 2009 Opening Night Rosters". 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  22. ^ Smith, Doug (2008-01-15). "D-League coming to T.O.?". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  23. ^ Radley, Scott (2008-01-16). "Hey, it ain't the NBA ...". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Lucus, Chad (2008-03-19). "Sayonara, ABA. Hello, NBDL?". WCSH. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  27. ^ NBA, Toledo Mud Hens discuss bringing minor-league team to arena
  28. ^ May, Peter (2008-02-03). "A Maine focus in D-League". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  29. ^ "Flight can't reach Altitude for NBDL title". USA Today. 2004-04-26. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  30. ^ "Asheville 90, Columbus 67: Altitude Repeat as NBDL Champions". NBA. 2005-04-23. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  31. ^ Stevenson, Stefan (2006-04-23). "T-Birds get an A-plus, take home a trophy". Albuquerque Tribune. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  32. ^ NBA Development League: Austin at Idaho
  33. ^ NBA Development League: Utah at Colorado

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. (basketball) National Basketball Development League


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