The NBA Development League's name has become a bit misleading as of late, a fact many were apt to point out this week as names from yesteryear like Marcus Banks and Rafer Alston joined the league already containing such luminaries as Antoine Walker, Antonio Daniels and Mikki Moore.
There are certainly still players signing in the D-League that are trying to enhance their overall basketball acumen, of course, but this season's rosters are increasingly making the league look like it's for guys latching on to one last chance rather than prospects hoping for their first shot at playing in the Association.
That said, it seems like maybe it's time for the D-League to take the next step in its transformation ... by changing its name to reflect more accurately exactly what it is. The next step in that process, however, is determining exactly what the D-League has become.
If the D-League wants to still be known as the Development League, the guys like 'Toine and Skip To My Lou are going to have to be replaced by actual NBA prospects that are looking to groom their games for the next level. Instead of Mikki Moore and Antoine Walker sharing a frontcourt in Boise, the league's going to have to look like the Sioux Falls Skyforce where young guns Keith Benson and Charles Garcia share the rebounding responsibilities.
If it's turned into only a league for young players, however, the play would likely suffer even more than it does already (not that watching D-League basketball is an exercise in making my eyes bleed, but it wouldn't be quite as fun if I was watching for the love of a good basketball game as opposed to seeing how certain players might translate to the next level) so it probably makes sense to let the league proceed on its current path.
The most difficult step in changing the league's name is making it amenable to all of the parties involved.
- There have been enough negative connotations attached to the 'D' (i.e. the letter grade I got throughout every math class I've ever taken) in terms of it being thought of as a below average basketball league .
- The idea of calling it "NBA 2" or something similar continues to reinforce it being a step below NBA, making it more difficult to sell players on assignments without them thinking they're demotions.
- The 'D' probably needs to go altogether, in fact, just so everyone quits referring to it as the NBDL -- the original name of the D-League, before it was changed in freakin' 2005.
Taking those suggestions into consideration, it's quite difficult to figure out what the league should re-brand itself as as it tries to make people think it's solid basketball, it's not a place where young players go to be demoted and it isn't a development league when the likes of Antoine Walker are on the court.
The D-League, as it currently stands, is sort of a bizarro NBA. The best D-Leaguers couldn't compete with the best NBA players, no, but there are plenty of prospects currently toiling on Development League rosters that are at least as deserving as the ninth and tenth men on the roster of their NBA counterparts.
The best name suggestion that's come to my attention came from the best ever D-League.com writer in the history of the league's website when Matt Brennan suggested we call it the NBA Wolfpac (mostly because it's been too long since I wrote about wrestling on Ridiculous Upside).
The D-League, like the NWO Wolfpac, is a spinoff of the mainstream league, it has the potential to be a more exciting brand of sports entertainment and its top guys are past their prime and looking to become relevant once again.
There are probably other ideas I'd consider adopting, however, so feel free to leave them in the comments.