NBA training camps will open on Dec. 9 if all goes according to plan, meaning next Friday should be a pretty important day in the lives of many players hoping for their first chance to play in the Association. One might think the Development League will provide the majority of the players, but considering there were 154 training camp invites last season, that isn't in the realm of possibility.
Those around the league estimate that there will probably be 30 or 40 players called up to compete for NBA roster spots during training camp -- taking place from Dec. 9 to Christmas Eve, essentially -- though conventional wisdom would indicate that estimation should be at least slightly higher.
32 players that played in the D-League during the 2009-10 received training camp invites for 2010-11, but that was when they still had to compete with players that were sitting at home and waiting for an NBA look prior to taking their talents overseas. The lockout likely removed a fair amount of those players this year, however, as European and Asian teams swooped in and signed them to deals while the NBA season was in question.
A better indicator in finding out what next Friday's training camps might look like would be to look back at the last time an NBA lockout lasted into the season. So, naturally, that's what I did.
- Between those two dates, 176 players (by my count) were signed to populate NBA training camps in hopes of making NBA rosters for the remainder of the season.
- Of those 176 players, 61 ended the previous season on an NBA roster, including such luminaries as God Shammgod, Oliver Miller, Jamie Feick and Rick Brunson.
- 44 of the training camp invites played abroad during the prior season including Thurl Bailey, Fred Vinson and Stacey King.
- 27 of the players making up training camp rosters were undrafted rookies like Earl Boykins, Anthony Carter and Brad Miller.
- 39 of the players were playing in either the CBA or IBA -- the two minor leagues at the time -- including Stephen Jackson, Adrian Griffin, Mikki Moore, Moochie Norris, Jeff McInnis and Troy Hudson.
- The remaining five players didn't play basketball during the 1997-98 season as far as I can tell, though for varying reasons: Percy Miller apparently picked up the game that year after previously being best known as rapper Master P; Dwayne Schintzius -- he of the golden locks -- sat out that season with an ankle injury; and Mark Randall returned from a brief retirement. I haven't the slightest idea what Jerald Reiner and Jason Wallace did that season.
Ridiculous Upside will have more on this next week, but for now, here are the training camp invites from that season to hold everyone over.