The NBA Development League is slowly but surely developing into what a true minor league should look like, at least as far as talent is concerned. The NBA lockout is probably the main reason for that considering quite a few players either stayed home and waited for training camp opportunities or their jobs were filled by more high-profile players in Europe, but it's nonetheless helping the D-League out more than your's truly thought would be possible.
The latest players to sign with the NBA's official minor league are on opposite sides when it comes to living up to the 'development' portion of the league's name as rookie Keith Benson and NBA veteran Marcus Banks both signed contracts on Tuesday, according to a league source.
Banks was a semi-productive NBA player not all that long ago, but hasn't played since being included as a throw-in as part of the trade that netted Jerryd Bayless for the Toronto Raptors. The UNLV product shouldn't look too past his prime like many of the NBA veterans that have signed in the D-League, however, as he was an NBA lottery pick just eight seasons ago.
Benson, a second round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks, was a two-time Summit League Player of the Year while playing for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in Michigan. Former D-Leaguer Ivan Johnson took the spot that was presumed to be Benson's in training camp, but the 6-foot-11 center will likely be one of the best big men in the D-League as soon as he joins a roster.
Both players will find out which team they're joining on Thursday once they clear waivers, but it's unlikely that they fall past the first four teams in the current waiver priority system -- the Tulsa 66ers, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Los Angeles D-Fenders and Springfield Armor.
Benson and Banks join a few other NBA-relevant players to join the D-League this week, too.
- Will Conroy has decided to rejoin the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as he looks to re-cement his role as the top point guard in the D-League after last appearing in training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves last month.
- Chukwudiebere Maduabum (!) signed with the Bakersfield Jam on Tuesday after not appearing on a basketball court since being selected by the Denver Nuggets at the tail end of last year's draft. I have no idea what took this long to make him return to the league, but at least it's finally happened and our long National (Basketball Association Development League) nightmare is over.
- Devin Brown cleared the waiver wire -- meaning all 16 teams passed on claiming him -- and he was picked up by the Erie BayHawks on Tuesday. Apparently his being out of shape overseas really scared some teams away?
- Luke Bonner re-signed with the Austin Toros, too. He averaged four points in 16 games with the team during the 2009-10 season, but the reason I'm including him with the notable players is that his brother is Matt Bonner.
Who's excited to watch some D-League!?