NBA opening day was postponed a lot longer than most basketball fans had planned, but all will likely be forgiven soon as regular season games officially tip-off on Christmas afternoon. The rosters were officially released on Saturday night for this afternoon's games and, despite some taking a depressing look at the roster, it's almost refreshing that new blood has entered the NBA this season.
Roster upheaval is likely going to happen sooner rather than later considering teams only have 66 games before the NBA playoffs begin. As of today, however, there are quite a few names that will be on an NBA roster that likely would not have been had the lockout not happened.
I'm not going to intimate that everyone that made an NBA opening day roster would have made it if the lockout hadn't happened and the European exodus didn't take place this summer, but I don't think it's going to hurt having new blood at the end of NBA benches either.
As far as I can tell, 127 players were invited to training camp without the luxury of guaranteed contract -- 35 less than last season, for those keeping track -- and just 22 actually made it past Saturday evening's deadline for NBA teams to submit their final roster. This isn't counting second round picks and players that ended last season on their team's roster because it's difficult to guess exactly what their contract entails (and ShamSports' hasn't updated this season's salary data), but the remaining players have an interesting story as well.
Eleven of the 22 players that made the NBA this season were playing in the D-League prior to the beginning of training camp, giving them a leg up on the competition as they were already in basketball shape. Signing to play in the D-League obviously worked out well for Jamaal Tinsley on his way back to the NBA as well as Austin Toros teammates Squeaky Johnson and Lance Thomas, Erie BayHawks teammates Mychel Thompson and Donald Sloan and new Miami Heat players Mickell Gladness and Terrel Harris, among others.
A couple of other former D-League players -- Josh Davis with the Memphis Grizzlies and Ivan Johnson with the Atlanta Hawks -- were also able to make it on to training camp rosters. I've been a big fan of Davis quite awhile -- dating back to this column and again when he was with the Grizzlies last training camp -- while Johnson absolutely tore the D-League up with the Erie BayHawks last season.
The only rookie free agent to make an NBA opening day roster is Julyan Stone. The former Texas-El Paso player is one I had my eye on leading up to this year's NBA Draft, and his decision to wait for a camp invite paid off when he made the Denver Nuggets roster.
A full list of training camp invites and their status is contained here.