|Most recent season or competition:
2015–16 NBA Development League season
NBA Development League logo
|No. of teams||19|
|Continent||FIBA Americas (Americas)|
|Most recent champion(s)||Santa Cruz Warriors (1st title)|
|Most titles||Oklahoma City Blue, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2 titles)|
|TV partner(s)||ESPN/NBA TV/NBA TV Canada/YouTube|
The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until the summer of 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. At the conclusion of the 2013–14 NBA season, 33% of NBA players had spent time in the NBA D-League, up from 23% in 2011. Beginning in the 2015–16 NBA season, the league will consist of 19 teams; 18 will be either single-affiliated or owned by an NBA team, with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants being the lone exception.
The league began its play as the NBADL in the 2001–02 season; the original eight franchises were all located in the southeastern United States (specifically in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia).
In the summer of 2005, some of these teams were purchased by private owners and relocated —at the same time the league's name was changed—, in a bid to appeal to more fans nationwide. As a result, franchises were established in or moved to Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Florida and Oklahoma. In February 2006, the D-League expanded to California 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, California, 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. On November 5, 2009, the Texas Legends made history by hiring Nancy Lieberman as head coach, the first female head coach to lead an NBA or NBA D-League team.
On January 4, 2010, the league announced its first national television agreement with Versus. Versus is slated to carry 10 regular season games and 6 playoff games throughout 2010, airing on Saturday nights beginning January 16. The league will have a new national broadcast partner in the CBS Sports Network, starting with the 2012–13 season. Select games will also be streamed live on YouTube.
On March 10, 2014, the New York Knicks announced that they had acquired the right to own and operate an NBA D-League team that will play in White Plains, New York. The new team became the NBA D-League’s 18th team and is the exclusive affiliate of the New York Knicks, playing its home games at the Westchester County Center, approximately 30 miles north of New York City. With the purchase, the Knicks become the seventh NBA team to fully own and operate their own NBA D-League affiliate.
On May 27, 2015, it was announced that the Toronto Raptors would receive their own team in the Greater Toronto Area for the 2015-16 season. On June 29, 2015 it was announced that the team will play in the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario and would be named Raptors 905. The team is named after the area code that covers most of Toronto's suburbs.
Currently the league is split into two Conferences: Eastern and Western. In the Eastern Conference there are there are two divisions: Atlantic and Central. The Atlantic Division includes: the Canton Charge, the Delaware 87ers, the Maine Red Claws, the Westchester Knicks, and Raptors 905. The Central Division includes: the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Grand Rapids Drive, the Iowa Energy and the Sioux Falls Skyforce. In the Western Conference there are two divisions: Southwest and West. The Southwest Division includes: the Austin Spurs, the Oklahoma City Blue, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and the Texas Legends. The West Division includes: the Bakersfield Jam, the Idaho Stampede, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Reno Bighorns, and the Santa Cruz Warriors.
The NBA Development League held its first All-Star game February 17, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. 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. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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 Center in Phoenix, Arizona. 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.
The 2010 D-League All-Star game was held on February 13, 2010, at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The Western Conference team defeated the Eastern Conference Team, 98–81. Bakersfield Jam center Brian Butch, who scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, was named as the MVP of the game. The NBA D-League also ran their third annual Dream Factory Friday Night events. The inaugural Shooting Stars Competition was won by a team of Pat Carroll, Trey Gilder and Carlos Powell. The Three-Point Shootout was won by Andre Ingram of the Utah Flash, and the Slam Dunk Contest was won by Dar Tucker of the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
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, Georgia (2005), Fayetteville, North Carolina (2006), Sioux Falls, South Dakota (2007), Boise, Idaho (2008), Orem, Utah (2009), Boise, Idaho (2010), South Padre Island, Texas (2011), and Reno, Nevada in 2012 and 2013, and Santa Cruz, California in 2015.
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 8 round draft utilizes a "serpentine" format, meaning the order alternates in each round; Team A who selected first in Round 1 will select last in Round 2, while Team B who selected last in Round 1 will get the first pick in Round 2. Round 3 was added in 2014
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 two (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 Spurs), 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. An NBA player will continue to be paid his NBA salary and will continue to be included on his NBA team’s roster on the inactive list while playing in the D-League. 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. The tallest player ever to be assigned is Hasheem Thabeet, the second player selected in the 2009 NBA Draft.
NBA teams can call up players as many times as they choose, and there is no limit to the number of times an NBA player with three years or less experience can be assigned to the D-League. Starting in 2011–12, veteran NBA players could be assigned with their consent. The first example of such was with Yi Jianlian, who the Dallas Mavericks assigned to the Texas Legends for two games.
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 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, Avery Bradley, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Marcin Gortat, Ramon Sessions, Jeremy Lin, Danny Green and Martell Webster.
Currently, there are only 25 players with D-League experience who won an NBA title: one (Tremaine Fowlkes) with the Detroit Pistons in 2003–04, two (Devin Brown and Mike Wilks) with the San Antonio Spurs in 2004–05, two (Earl Barron and Dorell Wright) with the Miami Heat in 2005–06, one (James White) with the San Antonio Spurs in 2006–07, one (Gabe Pruitt) with the Boston Celtics in 2007–08, one (Sun Yue) with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008–09, three (Shannon Brown , Jordan Farmar, and Josh Powell) with the Lakers in both 2008–09 and 2009-10, four (Jose Juan Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, and Dominique Jones) with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010-11, two (Dexter Pittman and Terrel Harris) with the Heat in 2011-12, two (Jarvis Varnado and Chris Andersen) with the Heat in 2012-13, and a record six (Aron Baynes, Austin Daye, Danny Green, Damion James, Cory Joseph, and Patty Mills) with the Spurs in 2013-14. Bobby Simmons and Aaron Brooks are the only former D-League players to win an NBA end of season award; Simmons won the Most Improved Player Award with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004–05 and Brooks won the Most Improved Player Award with the Houston Rockets in 2009–10.
In the 2008 NBA Draft, the Idaho Stampede's Mike Taylor was drafted 55th by the Portland Trail Blazers. 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. In the 2010 NBA Draft, the Tulsa 66ers' Latavious Williams was drafted 48th by the Miami Heat and later traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA team affiliated with the 66ers. One year later, in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Bakersfield Jam's Chukwudiebere Maduabum was drafted 56th by the then-affiliated Los Angeles Lakers and later traded to the Denver Nuggets. Glen Rice, Jr. of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers was the highest D-League draftee in the 2013 NBA Draft, when he was selected 35th by the Philadelphia 76ers and traded to the Washington Wizards. At the 2014 NBA Draft, two D-League players were selected for the first time: P. J. Hairston was drafted 26th (which was also the first time a D–League player was drafted in the first round in the NBA) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo was the 51st pick.
|Division||Team||City, Region||Arena||Capacity||Founded||NBA affiliate(s)||Ownership model|
|Atlantic||Delaware 87ers||Newark, DE||Bob Carpenter Center||5,100||2007||Philadelphia 76ers||Parent club|
|Erie BayHawks||Erie, PA||Erie Insurance Arena||6,750||2008||Orlando Magic||Hybrid|
|Maine Red Claws||Portland, ME||Portland Exposition Building||3,100||2009||Boston Celtics||Hybrid|
|Raptors 905||Mississauga, ON||Hershey Centre||5,000||2015||Toronto Raptors||Parent club|
|Westchester Knicks||White Plains, NY||Westchester County Center||5,000||2014||New York Knicks||Parent club|
|Central||Canton Charge||Canton, OH||Canton Memorial Civic Center||5,200||2001||Cleveland Cavaliers||Parent club|
|Fort Wayne Mad Ants||Fort Wayne, IN||Allen County War Memorial Coliseum||13,000||2007||Indiana Pacers||Independent|
|Grand Rapids Drive||Walker, MI||DeltaPlex Arena||4,500||2006||Detroit Pistons||Hybrid|
|Iowa Energy||Des Moines, IA||Wells Fargo Arena||16,110||2007||Memphis Grizzlies||Parent Club|
|Sioux Falls Skyforce||Sioux Falls, SD||Sanford Pentagon||3,250||1989||Miami Heat||Hybrid|
|Division||Team||City||Arena||Capacity||Founded||NBA affiliate(s)||Ownership model|
|Southwest||Austin Spurs||Cedar Park, TX||Cedar Park Center||7,200||2001||San Antonio Spurs||Parent club|
|Oklahoma City Blue||Oklahoma City, OK||Cox Convention Center||13,846||2001||Oklahoma City Thunder||Parent club|
|Rio Grande Valley Vipers||Hidalgo, TX||State Farm Arena||5,500||2007||Houston Rockets||Hybrid|
|Texas Legends||Frisco, TX||Dr Pepper Arena||4,500||2006||Dallas Mavericks||Hybrid|
|West||Bakersfield Jam||Bakersfield, CA||Dignity Health Event Center||500||2006||Phoenix Suns||Hybrid|
|Idaho Stampede||Boise, ID||CenturyLink Arena Boise||5,732||1997||Utah Jazz||Parent club|
|Los Angeles D-Fenders||El Segundo, CA||Toyota Sports Center||336||2006||Los Angeles Lakers||Parent club|
|Reno Bighorns||Reno, NV||Reno Events Center||7,000||2008||Sacramento Kings||Hybrid|
|Santa Cruz Warriors||Santa Cruz, CA||Kaiser Permanente Arena||2,505||1995||Golden State Warriors||Parent club|
Ownership models vary across the NBA D-League. Growing willingness among NBA organizations to invest in the D-League has led to two main models: direct ownership of D-League teams by parent NBA clubs and single-affiliate partnerships in which the D-League team remains independently owned while the parent club runs and finances basketball operations. As of the 2015–16 season, only one franchise is fully independently owned and operated, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
The Houston Rockets and Rio Grande Valley Vipers pioneered the single-affiliate partnership, also known as the hybrid model, in 2009–10. In November 2010, the New Jersey Nets and Springfield Armor announced they will enter into a single-affiliate partnership beginning in 2011–12 (the Nets are now known as the Brooklyn Nets). In June 2011, the New York Knicks and Erie BayHawks announced they will be single-affiliated. In May 2012, the Portland Trail Blazers entered into a single-affiliated partnership with the Idaho Stampede. The following month, the Boston Celtics and Maine Red Claws announced a single-affiliation partnership. In April 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they had purchased the inactive Utah Flash and moved them to Newark, Delaware, as the Delaware 87ers. In June 2013, the Miami Heat announced that they had entered into a single-affiliated partnership with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. In July 2013, the Sacramento Kings and Reno Bighorns entered into a single-affiliation. The Stampede ended their affiliation with the Trail Blazers after the 2013–14 season and in June 2014 announced their affiliation with the Utah Jazz. The Armor moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan after the 2013–14 season and affiliated with the Detroit Pistons. In May 2014, the Memphis Grizzlies and Iowa Energy entered into a single-affiliation partnership.
D-League teams with either hybrid or direct ownership by their NBA clubs usually also adopt the colors and names used by their parent club; exceptions include the Celtics and Red Claws, the Magic and Bayhawks, the Suns and Jam, the Jazz and Stampede, and the Kings and Bighorns.
Parent club ownership: Austin Spurs (by the San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Delaware 87ers (by the Philadelphia 76ers), Los Angeles D-Fenders (by the Los Angeles Lakers), Santa Cruz Warriors (by the Golden State Warriors), Oklahoma City Blue (by the Oklahoma City Thunder), Westchester Knicks (by the New York Knicks), Idaho Stampede (by the Utah Jazz), and Raptors 905 (by the Toronto Raptors).
Single affiliation/hybrid model: Maine Red Claws (with the Boston Celtics), Reno Bighorns (with the Sacramento Kings), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (with the Houston Rockets), Sioux Falls Skyforce (with the Miami Heat), Texas Legends (with the Dallas Mavericks), Iowa Energy (with the Memphis Grizzlies), Erie BayHawks (with the Orlando Magic), Grand Rapids Drive (with the Detroit Pistons), and the Bakersfield Jam (with the Phoenix Suns)
Independent ownership/operations: Fort Wayne Mad Ants
NBA teams without an exclusive affiliate: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, and Washington Wizards. All teams listed here are affiliated with Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Expansion has been scarce over the years, however on May 4, 2015, the Charlotte Hornets were the first to announce that they plan on bringing an NBA D-League team to the Carolinas to start in the 2016-17 season. Rumored cities include Asheville, North Carolina (former home of the Altitude), Fayetteville, North Carolina (former home of the Patriots), Raleigh, North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina (former home of the Groove), and Charleston, South Carolina (former home of the Lowgators). On May 27, 2015, Charlotte television station WLTX reported that Greenville and Raleigh bowed out of pursuing the NBA D-League while the cities of Columbia and Greensboro will submit proposals at a later time. On July 2, 2015, Columbia bowed out of pursuing an NBA D-League team which leaves Asheville, Charleston, Fayetteville, and Greensboro as potential cities to host the team.
On June 3, 2015, Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King said the Nets are” on the verge of reaching an agreement to have a D-League team again in the next couple of years.” The team hopes to play at least its first season in Brooklyn.
On June 30, 2015, Atlanta Hawks Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Mike Budenholzer said in a meeting with reporters that it is "critical" that Atlanta have its own D-League team in the near future.
On July 21, 2015, New Orleans Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps said the team is looking into possibly owning their own D-League team in the next year or two. "We're looking at some options right now on the Gulf Coast and in the state of Louisiana. So we're looking into that. We have some plans to add our own D-League team." Before Demps joined the New Orleans Pelicans Front Office he served in a dual role with the San Antonio Spurs as director of pro player personnel and general manager of the Austin Toros.
|Team||City||Active year(s)||Former NBA affiliates||Notes|
|Albuquerque / New Mexico Thunderbirds||Albuquerque, New Mexico||2005–2011||Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Seattle SuperSonics, Utah Jazz||Became the Canton Charge|
|Anaheim Arsenal||Anaheim, California||2006–2009||Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers||Became the Springfield Armor|
|Arkansas RimRockers||Little Rock, Arkansas||2004–2007||Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors||Suspended by owners|
|Asheville Altitude||Asheville, North Carolina||2001–2005||None||Became the Tulsa 66ers|
|(North) Charleston Lowgators||Charleston, South Carolina||2001–2004||None||Became the Florida Flame|
|Colorado 14ers||Broomfield, Colorado||2006–2009||Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, Toronto Raptors||Became the Texas Legends|
|Columbus Riverdragons||Columbus, Georgia||2001–2005||None||Became the Austin Toros|
|Dakota Wizards||Bismarck, North Dakota||2006–2012||Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards||Became the Santa Cruz Warriors|
|Fayetteville Patriots||Fayetteville, North Carolina||2001–2006||Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks||Folded by league|
|Florida Flame||Fort Myers, Florida||2004–2006||Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic||Folded by owners|
|Fort Worth Flyers||Fort Worth, Texas||2005–2007||Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers||Suspended by owners|
|Greenville Groove||Greenville, South Carolina||2001–2003||None||Folded by league|
|Huntsville Flight||Huntsville, Alabama||2001–2005||None||Became the Albuquerque Thunderbirds|
|Mobile Revelers||Mobile, Alabama||2001–2003||None||Folded by league|
|Roanoke Dazzle||Roanoke, Virginia||2001–2006||New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards||Folded by league|
|Springfield Armor||Springfield, Massachusetts||2009–2014||New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers||Became the Grand Rapids Drive|
|Tulsa 66ers||Tulsa, Oklahoma||2005-2014||Oklahoma City Thunder, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks||Became the Oklahoma City Blue|
|Utah Flash||Orem, Utah||2007–2011||Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz||Became the Delaware 87ers|
|Year||# Teams||Expansion teams||Folded teams||Annexed teams||Returning teams||Suspended teams||Relocated / renamed teams|
North Charleston Lowgators
|North Charleston Lowgators → Charleston Lowgators (name change only)|
|2004–05||6||Charleston Lowgators → Florida Flame|
|2005–06||8||Fort Worth Flyers||Arkansas RimRockers||Asheville Altitude → Tulsa 66ers
Columbus Riverdragons → Austin Toros
Huntsville Flight → Albuquerque Thunderbirds
Los Angeles D-Fenders
Sioux Falls Skyforce
|2007–08||14||Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Fort Worth Flyers
|2009–10||16||Maine Red Claws||Anaheim Arsenal → Springfield Armor
Colorado 14ers → Texas Legends (began playing in 2010–11)
|2010–11||16||Los Angeles D-Fenders||Albuquerque Thunderbirds → New Mexico Thunderbirds (arena move only)|
|2011–12||16||Los Angeles D-Fenders||Utah Flash||New Mexico Thunderbirds → Canton Charge|
|2012–13||16||Dakota Wizards → Santa Cruz Warriors|
|2013–14||17||Utah Flash → Delaware 87ers|
|2014–15||18||Westchester Knicks||Springfield Armor → Grand Rapids Drive
Tulsa 66ers → Oklahoma City Blue
Austin Toros → Austin Spurs
Current teams in tan
Former teams or former names in blue
The player will continue to be paid his NBA salary and will continue to be included on his NBA team’s roster (on the inactive list) while playing in the NBADL.