Last season set an impressive standard for NBA-D-League relations, but a change in the D-League’s allocation rules has reinforced those bonds with steel…or at least some strengthening putty, or something.
According to Scott Schroeder of NBA FanHouse, the D-League’s new rules allow each NBA team to designate up to three of their final training camp cuts as candidates for their D-League affiliate team. As long as the selected players agree to sign the standard D-League contract (as opposed to going for a bigger payday overseas), this rule affords NBA teams added influence in the roster construction of their D-League counterparts. From Schroeder’s report:
“The new allocation process is a big change and it will alter our
league drastically,” said one D-League coach, speaking to FanHouse on
the condition of anonymity as the rule change has not yet been
officially announced by the league. “Very often, the best players in
the D-League attended training camp with an NBA team. It’s great from
an NBA team’s perspective since the players they like, and want a
longer look at, can stay with their affiliates.”
…”For the D-League, allocation now becomes as much or more important
than the draft,” the coach continued. “Teams that have a close NBA
affiliation will have an advantage year in and year out, but if your
affiliate NBA teams have open roster spots in a given year, they will
attract some of the best available free agents so there can be a lot of
The previous allocation rule, as Schroeder noted, was rooted in marketability rather than practicality. In an effort to increase interest in the D-League and bump ticket sales, players were allocated by “local significance.” It’s an understandable and straightforward way to bump the bottom line, but now NBA teams have more reason than ever to utilize the D-League and an extremely convenient way in which to do so.
Under the new framework, NBA teams can flag the fringe roster candidates they find the most intriguing, and keep a close eye on those prospects’ progress while instructing D-League coaches to focus on specific aspects of their development. That’s power.
Previously, some NBA teams may have been skeptical of the D-League’s benefit due to the lack of customization in their affiliate’s roster, but the evolution of the D-League’s rulebook has made the D an increasingly valuable part of savvy team-building strategy.