For SB Nation's latest Theme Day, team blogs all around the network are pondering which of their respective teams' past stars and/or key role players (in their prime) it would be beneficial to have lace up with the team's current roster.
Of course, it's a bit tricky to dive into such a discussion when covering all of the NBA D-League. What's more, the whole point of the league is to see players move on to greener pastures and reach The Association. The minor league is probably more valued for the individual players it develops and sends up to the NBA, rather than having a team or two build up a dynasty and win multiple championships.
Would players like Danny Green and/or Jeremy Lin have helped the Reno Bighorns (both players were actually teammates in Reno during their time in the NBADL) in hopes of breaking into the D-League postseason this past year? Of course they would have, but to suggest either player go backwards is a bit silly.
So instead, we've decided to take advantage of this Theme Day a little bit differently.
This offseason, a slew of notable D-League players proved to be tempted by the more lucrative contracts international teams could offer overseas. It's certainly beneficial to cash in one's success, but on the other hand, going on to play international ball also takes you out of the eye (and perhaps also out of mind) of top notch NBA executives who make crucial decisions and examine players for potential call-ups throughout the season.
When a player is rather close to breaking in, going overseas means they're opting not to wait things out.
With that said, it would have been nice to see former Tulsa 66ers' guard Tony Taylor stick things out stateside this coming season, instead of venturing off to Poland.
Taylor made visible and notable progress all throughout his rookie season in the NBADL. Though through part of the year, he played behind NBA veteran Chris Quinn, Taylor showed continued signs of maturation, and proved that he too, could run his team like a veteran with strong floor general instincts. By the time the D-League postseason came around, he had stepped up and was leading the way for Tulsa.
But his progress didn't stop there, as Taylor went on to take full advantage of the offseason. From hitting a game-winning shot that essentially won the Oklahoma City Thunder the Summer League championship in Orlando, to serving as starting point guard for the Miami Heat in Las Vegas, Taylor was putting in the work and turning heads all the while.
With Reggie Jackson a candidate to be the Thunder's sixth man this year and Derek Fisher re-signing to be the third string point guard, there's no doubt OKC would have preferred to continue developing a top notch young guard or two to prepare for the opportunity to step in when/if one of the two gets hurt and/or proves not to be capable (i.e. Fisher) enough.
Taylor could have been that very guy, had he stuck around and went through the motions of training camp, then continued to impress with the 66ers.
To be in one's prime, with regard to their D-League career, likely means they are on the cusp of breaking into The Association. If we could, we'd bring Tony Taylor back to see just how close he really is/was.