The number one concern of casual basketball fans everywhere when it comes to the D-League is which of the league's top prospects will eventually break through to the NBA.
Nevertheless, big league executives often value winning, so it makes sense that each minor league squad puts their best foot forward in hopes of making noise all the way through to the postseason following the 50 game regular season.
With the NBADL regular season set to come to an end following Saturday evening's matchups, most teams are gearing themselves up for a respective playoff push. For two teams, however, there's business needed to be taken care of first on the regular season's final day.
The Maine Red Claws and Sioux Falls Skyforce are currently both on the bubble with regard to securing a spot in the playoffs, each jockeying for the postseason's eighth and final seed.
Should the Red Claws defeat the Erie BayHawks for the second consecutive day on Saturday, they will cruise into the playoffs. Should they lose, however, and the Skyforce can pull out a victory over the Iowa Energy, they instead will earn themselves a matchup with the league's best team to begin the postseason.
Both Maine and Sioux Falls took to trade negotiations ever so frequently this season, making moves often, via trades and the waiver wire, as they each searched for that ideal winning combination.
The Red Claws strolled into Houston during All-Star Weekend with a league-high five all-stars (the fifth, James Mayes, has since coincidentally been dealt to the Skyforce), and have also been the beneficiary of NBA assignees like Fab Melo, and late additions like Jermaine Taylor and Josh Selby.
Sioux Falls (led by former RidiculousUpside.com frontman Scott Schroeder, the team's Director of Basketball Operations) has also received various boosts throughout the season from assignees like Dexter Pittman and Jarvis Varnado. From a bevy of call-ups and international gigs, the Skyforce have had to cope all season long with an array of important players leaving town (albeit regardless of how temporary each individual gig may turn out to be) for greener pastures, be it in the NBA or overseas.
The team was a key participant in one of the NBADL's biggest trades this season, shipping league M.V.P. candidate Andrew Goudelock to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in a three-team deal to begin 2013. Though Mychel Thompson came to town from Erie and has played the rest of the season for Sioux Falls, Donald Sloan was in and out, due to a couple of NBA call-ups before ultimately leaving for good to play overseas in China.
Sloan did emerge as a leader during his limited time as member of the Skyforce, propelling the team on an impressive win streak that got them back on track. That same streak perhaps righted the ship towards a potential postseason spot, so it'll be interesting to see which team (the Red Claws or Skyforce) emerges following Saturday night.