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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.


The league began play as the NBDL in the 2001–2002 season; the original eight franchises were all located in the southeastern United Statesmarker (specifically in Virginiamarker, North Carolinamarker, South Carolinamarker, Alabamamarker, and Georgiamarker). 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 Texasmarker, New Mexicomarker, Arkansasmarker, Floridamarker and Oklahomamarker. In February 2006, the D-League expanded to Californiamarker 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. A few days after that, the league announced that Anaheim, Californiamarker, would be getting a team. 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. The westward expansion contributed to the contraction of the NBA-owned Roanoke Dazzle and Fayetteville Patriots. The Florida Flame have suspended operations due to arena scheduling difficulties. Today, no NBA D-League teams remain in the league's original Southeastern footprint.

NBA D-League All-Star Game

The NBA Development League held its first All-Star game February 17, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casinomarker in Las Vegas, Nevadamarker. 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.

The second annual All-Star game was held on February 16, 2008, at the Ernest N.marker Morial Convention Centermarker in New Orleans, Louisianamarker. 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).

The 2009 D-League All-Star game was held on February 14, 2009, at the Phoenix Convention Centermarker in Phoenix, Arizonamarker. The Red Team defeated the Blue Team 113–103 and Blake Ahearn and Courtney Sims were named co-MVPs. 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.

NBA 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, Georgiamarker (2005), Fayetteville, North Carolinamarker (2006), Sioux Falls, South Dakotamarker (2007),Boise, Idahomarker (2008), Orem, Utahmarker (2009), and in Boise, Idahomarker January 4–7 for 2010.

NBA D-League Draft

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.

NBA D-League Frisco Hires Nancy Lieberman as Head Coach

On November 5, 2009, Frisco hired Nancy Lieberman as head coach, the first female head coach to lead an NBA or NBA D-League team.

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, 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.

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 Andray Blatche Rafer Alston, Louis Amundson, Chris Andersen, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes, 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. 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.

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 was called up from 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.

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.

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. In the 2009 NBA Playoffs, an all-time high of 49 players was named to playoff rosters, 17 of whom also spent time in the D-League that season. 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.

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).


Current teams

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

Future expansion and relocation

The Toronto Raptors are engaged in discussions to bring a D-League team to Southern Ontario, most likely to Hamiltonmarker, but Oshawamarker remains a possibility. The Inland Empire, Californiamarker, region is also being considered as an expansion site.

The Manchester Millrats, of the Premier Basketball League , 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 Arenamarker in Manchester, New Hampshiremarker. However, with the announcement of the Maine Red Claws as a Celtics affiliate, the future of the Millrats is unclear.

The owner of the Halifax Rainmen, also of the PBL, is currently pursuing ownership of a D-League team in Halifax, Nova Scotiamarker. Other possibilities in the East for D-League teams include Toledo, Ohiomarker; Harlemmarker, New Yorkmarker; Youngstown, Ohiomarker; Richmond, Virginiamarker, Little Havana,FL and Trenton, New Jerseymarker.

Inactive teams

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

Defunct teams

Team City Active Year(s) NBA Affiliates Notes
Anaheim Arsenal Anaheim, Californiamarker 2006–2009 Los Angeles Clippers ("local" affiliate), Orlando Magic, Portalnd Trailblazers, Atlanta Hawks moved to Springfield, Massachusetts
Asheville Altitude Asheville, North Carolinamarker 2001–2005 N/A moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma
Charleston Lowgators Charleston, South Carolinamarker 2001–2004 Miami Heat ("local" affiliate), Orlando Magic ("local" affiliate), Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, moved to South Fort Myers, Florida
Colorado 14ers Broomfield, Coloradomarker 2006–2009 Denver Nuggets ("local" affiliate), New Jersey Nets moved to Frisco, Texasmarker
Columbus Riverdragons Columbus, Georgiamarker 2001–2005 San Antonio Spurs moved to Austin, Texas
Fayetteville Patriots Fayetteville, North Carolinamarker 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 Carolinamarker 2001–2003 None Folded by league
Huntsville Flight Huntsville, Alabamamarker 2001–2005 Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mobile Revelers Mobile, Alabamamarker 2001–2003 None Folded by league
Roanoke Dazzle Roanoke, Virginiamarker 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) Huntsville Flight
2004–2005 Asheville Altitude 90–67 Columbus Riverdragons
2005–2006 Albuquerque Thunderbirds 119–108 Fort Worth Flyers
2006–2007 Dakota Wizards 129–121 (OT) Colorado 14ers
2007–2008 Idaho Stampede 89–95, 90–89, 108–101 Austin Toros
2008–2009 Colorado 14ers 136–131, 123–104 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


  3. NBA, Toledo Mud Hens discuss bringing minor-league team to arena
  4. NBA Development League: Austin at Idaho
  5. NBA Development League: Utah at Colorado

External links

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