The National Basketball Developmental League was made with a purpose that has been executed successfully so far: develop players into becoming NBA-ready. There have been successful players who took the route of the D-League and have been sent down to work on their game, and it has benefited them. The NBDL gives these players more playing time in order to know what to actually do in a game situation and gain experience playing with other talented players who want to polish up their game. There have been some teams that are even more successful than others; the Santa Cruz Warriors, who are the affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, are a prime example. Players such as Kelenna Azubuike, Reggie Williams, Anthony Tolliver, and more have all seen more NBA success than they were predicted to have. Nearly 1/4 of NBA players have been in the D-League before. With 17 teams now in the NBDL and more growing, the quality of NBA basketball will progress for the long haul.
Los Angeles Lakers guard, Kent Bazemore, is one player today that is showing why he belongs in the NBA. He was playing many minutes in Santa Cruz for the Warriors and has shown that he has the talent to belong in the league in his stint with the Lakers so far. NBA legend, the logo, who is now working in the front office with the Golden Sate Warriors, Jerry West, has seen the process take place in front of him. He works closely with the Warriors and knows what is going down in Santa Cruz with the developmental team. He witnessed Bazemore go through the steps of being a bench player in Golden State to a star in Santa Cruz and now already a productive player for the Lakers.
"Every year you got new players and then coaches pretty much play 9 or 10 players, so you're going to have 2-3 players that are not going to get the opportunity to play very much. This [D-League] gives them a chance to compete against live basketball. This is a proving ground for them and a chance for them to get to play. They try to play collectively as a team, which is very important," West said. "These kids today need a lot of work and this is where they can get it. I've been out here and been very impressed with coach here. It's important that they get individual attention."
West explained how the players in the D-League mature more playing in the situation that they do. They do not get the same luxuries an NBA player does, which means they do most things on their own off the court and really need to take care of themselves and grow up. However, the NBDL gives players a closer look at the NBA, especially when being compared to Europe. Pierre Jackson was averaging nearly 30 points per game in the league and had a game where he scored almost 60 points. He was not called up though by the New Orleans Pelicans at the time and left to sign with a European squad. However, it is hard for most NBA players to go into a foreign country and play basketball where they are not comfortable. These players do not know the language and struggle to get familiar with the play-calling and more importantly, the culture and lifestyle to even live in the country.
"Brandon Jennings went and played in Europe when he was in high school. We had another kid down here [Santa Cruz], Jeremy Tyler. He went to Europe and played. This is about a different competition level and how kids react to going out of the country which is probably a lot more socially different. Secondly, if you don't speak the language, it makes either for a great experience or a poor experience," West explained.
The D-League hopes to see even more growth in the league, especially for players who are a part of the “one and done” process at their respective colleges. The league is becoming known for their development of players now more than ever. Gerald Green dropped 41 points this season and used to play in the D-League. Chris Andersen is a key piece off the bench for the Miami Heat and has helped them win consecutive championships. He was also in the D-League. Jeremy Lin, Marcin Gortat, Danny Green, and Ramon Sessions are also among successful players in the NBA now that were in the D-League before. The system is similar to MLB and their minor league system. It has been a good alternative to balance out the high level of basketball kept in the NBA, especially when players leave college quickly and do not let their games mature.