For many D-League prospects, simply playing and fighting for that chance to squeeze onto an NBA roster (even if only for a 10 day contract or two) is often still worth the difficult grind.
In recent seasons, however, we have seen more and more prospects not only receive call-ups, but also stay put and even make an impact on NBA teams.
With such success comes a potential future in the league, and this summer many fans watched as many D-League alumni signed longterm deals in the offseason. Of course, Jeremy Lin was quite the headliner of these various signings, receiving a $25 million, three year contract from the Rockets.
But who were some of the other D-League alum to also sign lucrative deals heading into next season? Let's take a look after the jump.
One of Lin's former teammates on the 2010-11 Bighorns, Danny Green, emerged as a key cog in the Spurs' engine this past season. The guard averaged 9.1 points and 3.5 rebounds, shooting 44% from downtown while playing 23.1 minutes per game. Green appeared in all 66 games (starting 38), and parlayed his success into a three year contract, worth $12 million with San Antonio.
The Bighorns were certainly stacked with talent that season, because Knicks sharpshooting forward Steve Novak also joined Lin and Green on the squad. Like Green, the Marquette product became known for his long-range bombs. Novak averaged 8.8 points and shot 47% from deep, good enough to help propel the efforts of the Knicks' second unit. Novak will be staying in the Big Apple for quite a while after signing a four year deal, worth $15 million.
To find more D-League alum talent, one wouldn't have had to look very far from New York at all. Louis Williams (who played for the Fort Worth Flyers in 2006) proved to be one of the best sixth men in the league last season as he and the 76ers almost came away with a division title. Williams averaged 14.9 points and 3.5 assists per game off the bench. In the offseason, he signed a lucrative multi-year contract with the Hawks.
Opportunities in the NBA for D-League players often come about when a team loses a rotation player or two due to injury. This was exactly the case for John Lucas III. With Derrick Rose down for the count, the Bulls depended on a brigade of floor generals to get them by. Lucas III, a D-League alum of two different squads, certainly helped fill the void. After averaging 7.5 points per game through 49 contests, Lucas III inked a three-year deal with the Raptors this offseason.
While playing for the Jazz earlier in his career, C.J. Miles was sent down to the D-League in both 2006 and 2007 in hopes it would help him develop. Fast forward to 2012, and Miles has seen his stock rise as he's been depended on as a steady role player, averaging 9.1 points per game this past season. He will look to achieve more of the same success with the Cavs next season after signing a two-year contract.
Like Green and Lucas, Ramon Sessions (a member of the Tulsa 66ers in 2007-08) is yet another D-League alum who came up in the clutch for a contending team. After being traded to the Lakers midseason, Sessions averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists in 23 contests for Los Angeles, going on to stand tall as their starting floor general during the postseason. Sessions cashed in on his success (literally) by signing a two year deal with the Bobcats, worth $10 million.
The list certainly doesn't stop there. Many other notable D-League talents have gone on to experience NBA success and sign contracts this offseason. With next season heavily approaching, many fans wonder who will shock the nation as the next Jeremy Lin.
Following in Lin's footsteps would be huge for any D-League player, but simply pulling a page out the book of other alum who have emerged as steady NBA role players wouldn't hurt either.