The announcement this week that the New Jersey Nets locked up the Springfield armour as their sole D-League affiliate is the latest indication that the Developmental League is moving closer to being a true minor league to the NBA.A minor league system makes sense for all NBA teams, but the league has not actively created official partnerships between big and small clubs.
The NHL and MLB have carefully structured minor league systems, but the NFL and NBA don’t employ post-college developmental systems. A minor league system isn’t as necessary in the NFL, where active rosters are 53 players deep not including practice squads, but NBA teams can only carry a dozen players at a time.
As college becomes a less attractive option, and more young players head overseas for seasoning, a true minor league structure could ensure that NBA teams have an ideal place to put young players that aren’t quite ready for the big time. Instead of “stashing” players in European leagues as Portland and San Antonio have been known to do, they can keep their players on US soil where they’d be easier to monitor and call up when needed.
A minor league also makes a lot of sense for foreign players coming over to the NBA as it would give them a platform to adapt to the North American game without throwing them right into the NBA fire.
It certainly makes sense for the Nets, an extremely young team that is rapidly accumulating young assets but doesn’t have enough minutes to give them all necessary playing time.
Currently, only the Nets and the Houston Rockets have single-affiliation partnerships with D-League teams, and the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, and Oklahoma City Thunder are the outright owners of their D-League franchises.
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