Record Breaking Number Of D-League Alums On Opening Day NBA Rosters

As the 2014-2015 regular season kicks off in the NBA, there are plenty of D-League alums to be found competing on the hardwood.

All 30 teams in the Association have at least one player with D-League experience on their roster come opening night. The Phoenix Suns are leading the way with seven alums (Gerald Green, Archie Goodwin, Marcus Morris, Eric Bledsoe, Anthony Tolliver, P.J. Tucker and Miles Plumlee) and there are a further six teams who are close behind with six players with D-League experience.

According to the D-League’s official site, only 15 former D-League players were on an NBA roster come opening day 10 years ago. That number has grown every year since and has nearly doubled since 2010-2011. Now, out of the 446 players who make up the NBA, 117 (26.2 percent) have D-League experience. Some of the names on that list: Chris Andersen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Jeremy Lin, Marcin Gortat, Danny Green, and Matt Barnes.

There are currently 18 teams in the D-League and all but one (Fort Wayne Mad Ants) have single affiliation with an NBA squad. As we saw last season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, playing for a team that is directly affiliated with an NBA team gives undrafted players (or simply players looking for a contract) a great chance of landing a roster spot. Troy Daniels and Robert Covington both earned call-ups and contracts for the remainder of the season after excelling in the Vipers’ 3-point happy system — a microcosm of what the Rockets ran on a game-to-game basis. Although Covington has since been cut, Daniels is set to be a key contributor for them off the bench this season. Without the D-League, that wouldn’t have been possible.

Plenty more teams are set to follow suit over the coming seasons. The Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are living proof that implementing a similar system in a D-League affiliate ensures that assignees are developing in the right environment, rather than simply gaining confidence by aimlessly putting up numbers. It also sets teams up to find diamonds in the rough, just as those aforementioned teams have in the past.

There’s reason to believe that we’ll see even more call-ups this season with there now being 17 teams in the D-League, the most since it set up shop in 2001-2002. There’s also reason to believe that there will be even more D-League alums on NBA rosters by 2015-2016.

As if it wasn’t already clear, the D-League is growing, slowly but surely.