The NBA Development League consistently likes to tout itself as the research and development arm of its big brother as they attempt to try out things that may or may not work in the big league. Not all of it is implemented well (see the Great Ball Disaster of 2006-07), but the D-League at least gets to do some fun stuff under the radar.
One of the fun things it does is the "Pick Your Opponent" playoff format, allowing the top seeds to pick from the remaining playoff-eligible teams as they decide who to play in the postseason. It might sound like a cacophony idea, but with call-ups and injuries often ridding the rosters, end-of-season D-League rosters often look quite different than the team that donned a particular jersey to begin the 50-game schedule.
This year's matchups aren't much different what they would have been had the rule not been in effect -- the No. 1 seed is playing the No. 8 seed, the No. 2 seed is playing the No. 6 seed, the No. 3 seed is playing the No. 7 seed and the No. 4 seed is playing the No. 5 seed. A couple of small deviations from the plan, of course, but it wasn't anything wild (for wild, refer to Eric Musselman's decision last year).
This season Musselman, now head coach of the Lakers' affiliate Los Angeles D-Fenders, went with a different approach after earning the right to pick his team's opponent first following a season that saw LA finish with a 38-12 record and the top defensive field goal percentage in the league for the second-straight season by a Musselman-coached roster.
"As an organization (Joey Buss Glenn Carraro and the coaching staff), we decided a month ago," Musselman told Ridiculous Upside, "That if we where fortunate enough to get the top seed we would take the eigth seed no matter who it was."
That'll matchup the D-Fenders with the Iowa Energy ... a mismatch of pretty large proportions if one looks at the talent speckling the teams' respective rosters. The D-Fenders were expected to add Malcolm Thomas back to the roster early this week, giving them six players with NBA experience that also includes Jamario Moon, Christian Eyenga, Mardy Collins, Orien Greene and Kareem Rush. None of Iowa's players have played an NBA game.
The other matchups include the Springfield Armor taking on the Canton Charge, the Austin Toros playing the Erie BayHawks and the Dakota Wizards facing off against the Bakersfield Jam. We'll get to playoff preview pieces prior to the games starting on Wednesday night.