Since 2001, the NBA D-League has been focused on supporting, nurturing, and developing intriguing prospects so that they can eventually reach The Association.
That said, as the years progress, basketball's minor league is becoming quite the place to help further potential coaching and/or front office talent along as well.
Plenty of baseball players spend close to an (if not a full) entire decade in the minor leagues trying to break through. Fans hear stories about minor leaguers who finally break into the MLB past the age of 30 quite often. It really isn't that rare, though it's clearly not ideal.
This would probably be the case for a fair amount of basketball players as well, if there weren't so many other appealing opportunities overseas too. All this said, the fact of the matter is that there are only so many roster spots to go around, and so many already established players hitting the NBA hardwood on a nightly basis. Not only is it difficult for these young guns to get noticed, it's also that much more difficult to stick once they've made it. There are only so many NBA opportunities.
For potential NBA coaches and/or front office members, however, the window of opportunity stays open a little bit longer. Frankly, not only are there plenty of more positions to be had, but teams also have the ability to create positions if so desired for these talented individuals. The same can't be said for promising players and an ability to create roster spots just like that, obviously.
Casual basketball fans may focus more on the success stories from the NBADL that pertain to the players, but as fate would have it, a continued growing slew of coaches and/or executives making key decisions have worked their way up from the D-League as well.
It's admittedly a bit easier for executives and/or coaching prodigies to break into the NBA than it is for players. In addition to having position flexibility, such staffers are also specifically employed (most of the time by the NBA parent affiliates) to handle matters in the D-League. Obviously, the motivation behind putting such employees in these very roles is to see them develop and come up through the ranks. But because the organizations are also paying them to begin with, it's in their own best interest to see such staffers advance and help in any way possible, re: assisting the big league club, eventually.
Needless to say, there's more of an invested commitment, there.
With regard to the D-League, NBA teams can call up a player at anytime, regardless of whether they're currently donning an affiliated specific minor league jersey or not. Call-ups can be plucked up from any team in the league.
Executives and/or coaches seem to have an advantage in this regard, because they're specifically employed by an NBA team, regardless of how far down the food chain they may still be at the given time. The NBA franchises want to move these guys along, so that they can cash in on what they've learned, for the betterment of the big league team.
Perhaps an interesting solution (re: the players situation) would be to somehow limit and/or minimize the number of call-ups an NBA team can make from opposing minor league teams. When the time comes and every NBA team has its own affiliate, perhaps that's when such a suggestion will come into play.
Until then, it's without a doubt that executives and coaches alike will have an advantage when it comes to moving up the ranks, and thus, will continue to do so at a more efficient rate than players until then.