I know, I know. This is probably exactly what you expected out of me: Puff pieces talking about how sweet the D-League is and how you all should become a fan. Well, I would have written this even if I was still good ol' Ridiculous Scott, with non-stop scoops and girls throwing their proverbial panties (do people still use this word?) at me as I traveled from city to city on the information superhighway, covering the beat of the D-League. There's even a precedent to this historic event, as DJ Turtleface recently tried telling the world to love the Memphis Grizzlies. Without further adieu, the reasons you should love the D-League, even if you're a fan of
the Orlando Magic a team that hates the D-League.
[Editor's Note: A week after I published the first part, I decided to finish it and publish this in it's entirety on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Hope you enjoy, Mike Lisboa.]
Atlanta Hawks: Well, I guess we're going to get off to a bit of a rough start, because Atlanta is one of those teams that hasn't properly used the D-League. Wait! That's a great reason to care about the D-League. Atlanta, you should care about the D-League so that your team decides to use it. Wouldn't you have felt better if Othello Hunter, Thomas Gardner and Mario West would have spent a bit of time the last couple of seasons playing (and developing) in the D-League as opposed to learning from Mike Woodson and listening to Speedy Claxton complain about playing time?
Boston Celtics: Boston fans should love the D-League because it's pure (unlike the baseball alternative in Boston) and the young guns have actually been able to show some talent when playing in the D-League. Plus, this season, Danny Ainge's son is the coach! Isn't that exciting? Austin Ainge: D-League head coach! He coaches the Maine Red Claws. Who's running the team? None other than the lovable Jon Jennings, former Celtics assistant/coach (and he sat next to Larry Legend)! Watching JR Giddens, Bill(y) Walker and (hopefully) Lester Hudson be coached by lil' Ainge oughtta get you excited - this could be your team in 5 years once KG and crew retire. True, you'll probably reload with old vets, but whatevz.
Charlotte Bobcats: Bobcats fans probably need more to be excited about and the D-League gives them plenty to be excited about. When Dontell Jefferson explodes as a defensive stopper for you next season, you'll be sorry you weren't more familiar with his D-League career. When the Bobcats send Alexis Ajinca and Derrick Brown to develop with the Red Claws, they'll be joining a team that could probably compete with the actual Bobcats. You'll want to check the D-League team out on Futurecast as soon the inevitable Tyson Chandler injury happens, because, unlike New Orleans, maybe you'll want to find a D-League replacement for him.
Chicago Bulls: You shouldn't be interested, because the NBA won't allow you to assign Vinny Del Negro to the D-League - and that's unfair, because the Iowa Energy's (your D-League affiliate) head coach, Nick Nurse, would do a solid job in running
with the Bulls. Actually, this just in - you should care about the D-League because according to my favorite Chicagonow.com writer Mark Deeks (Shamsports FTW), you're in the market for a league minimum player. Deeks does a good job of giving you a breakdown of who you should be interested in, but he won't be there to hold your hand forever. Watch the D-League and know as much about fringe NBA talent as Deeks and myself (because isn't that the ultimate goal?).
Cleveland Cavaliers: Love the D-League because it seems like the Cavs do, albeit awkwardly (think More to Love). They don't really need the D-League, but they seem to like using it anyway - in moderation. Billy Thomas, Lance Allred, Kaniel Dickens, Trey Johnson and Jawad Williams were all D-League call-up's in the last two seasons and even though you probably don't remember them, they were Cavs. I'm the type of fan that likes the under-appreciated, and if you're like me (or want to be "hip"), you should love these guys... and watch the D-League, on the lookout for the next Kaniel Dickens, or something like that.
Dallas Mavericks: Mav's fans should love the D-League because Donnie Nelson owns a D-League team! Well, not quite yet, but he will next season. The Frisco somethings, and you can be a part of it. Back when the Fort Worth Flyer's were around, they were good... because of JJ Barea, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and about 22 other players Dallas seemingly filtered through to get some playing time. Now that Donnie actually owns his own team, I expect his D-League team will feature Ahmad Nivins, Shan Foster, Rodrigue Beaubois and Nate Jawai. Why not start scouting the opponents this season?
Denver Nuggets: You should care about the D-League because the Nuggets love the D-League. Heck, they even have a Minor League Coordinator - love me some Ben Tenzer! Chris Andersen and Dahntay Jones were the best defensive players on the team last season, and not coincidentally, both played in the D-League, so love the D-League for the D-Fense. Plus, one time I e-mailed Mark Warkentien for an interview request with RU and he replied "Sure. We are D-League fans..." Love the D: because the NBA's Executive of the Year is a fan.
Detroit Pistons: My first answer would have been to care about it because the D-League helped Amir Johnson turn into what he is today, but that apparently wasn't what you were looking for now that he's no longer a Piston. So, fans, care about the D-League because the Fort Wayne Mad Ants care about you. The Mad Ants have the most NBA affiliates of any team in the D-League, but you're probably their favorite because you're close, and the Pistons used to live in Fort Wayne. Your Mad Ants also have a blogging salesperson, Garrett "Ain't Nothin' but a G-Thang" Martz. He's not good at blogging, or volleyball, but he seemingly tries hard at both, except blogging. And he's balding.
Golden State Warriors: Let me count the ways. Actually, check out Golden State of Mind where some dude (probably ridiculously attractive) named Ridiculous Scott did a three (one, two, THREE baby!) part miniseries chronicling all of the reasons. It'll make you laugh, cry and be so excited about the D-League, you won't be able hide it.
Houston Rockets: Because you own the basketball operations of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Why yes, that is the team that Rockets starting point guard Aaron Brooks played for (two games) during the 2007-08 season. Also, they've been having Moses Malone sign autographs lately. Gotta love Moses.
Indiana Pacers: I'm not sure why you should care about the D-League. You do have a ready and willing affiliate in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so that's nice. Their mascot is the Mad Ant, an angry ant that occasionally kidnaps children. If I were you, I'd recommend sending AJ Price to the D-League, as a sort of make good deal so Larry Bird doesn't suffer the same fate as this kid. Thanx.
Los Angeles Clippers: For starters, care because you cared about Mike Taylor. He was released earlier this Summer, but before that, he wasn't terrible. Know where he came from? The D-League. Also, former assistant Rory White is now a head coach for the Dakota Wizards. If you're not a fan of Dunleavy (and who still is?), live vicariously through White, who was with the Clippers for six seasons.
Memphis Grizzlies: For starters, one of your up-and-coming assistants is Dave Joerger, a former D-League champion head coach with the Dakota Wizards. Hamed Haddadi will hopefully be a welcome addition in Dakota this season, along with Sam Young and DeMarre Carroll, so at least Dakota will be worth watching - a sort of "these guys, May and Gay are 5/8 of your future rotation!" Really, the D-League could be just as fun as your own team to follow this season!
Miami Heat: Remember back in 2007-08, when the Heat started signing every D-League player it could find and you had to search the google to find out who Blake Ahearn, Kasib Powell and Stephane Lasme were? Well, if you just follow the D-League a little bit, you'll never have to worry about that again. As a bonus, you'll more than likely get addicted to this site as well, which is always fun.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves fans should care because they're close enough to their affiliate to actually attend Sioux Falls Skyforce games, David Kahn once owned for D-League teams so your GM is obviously a fan, and perhaps the most important reason, we have 2-guards and you're going to need another in case Wayne Ellington goes down.
New Jersey Nets: The Nets haven't had the best of luck with the D-League, but at least Sean Williams was humbled after his trip to Colorado last season. Now that the Nets have a closer affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts, maybe the affiliate will be more friendly. Plus, now that Vince Carter's gone, Springfield Armor coach Dee Brown would probably be able to win a dunk contest against anyone on the parent club, so at least there'll be excitement nearby.
New Orleans Hornets: I'm not sure how the depth chart looks, but I'm assuming either Darren Collison or Marcus Thornton will be able to get some playing time in the D-League, so why not follow them to Albuquerque - "the New Orleans of New Mexico".
New York Knicks: After calling up Joe Crawford, Chris Hunter, Mo Sene, Courtney Sims and Demetris Nichols from the D-League last season, who knows what will happen this season!? Well, you will if you pay attention to the best players in the D-League, because that's who the Knicks signed toward the end of the season. Plus, you never know if Patrick Ewing Jr. will end up back in Reno.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Well, you own the Tulsa 66ers and they have two of the best up-and-coming coaches in the D-League. Assign some players and watch them excel. If not, keep an eye on the transactions list because you never know when the next Shaun Livingston ends up in Tulsa.
Orlando Magic: Currently the Magic only have 11 players on their roster, two short of the 13 player minimum. If they're not able to get a deal done with former D-Leaguer CJ Watson, I'm expecting at least one cheap D-League player on the roster, if not two. Somebody's gotta make Anthony Johnson look bad.
Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers still need three players to round out the roster. Like the Magic, odds are at least one will come from the D-League. I don't know who to suggest, though. Pure PG, possible?
Phoenix Suns: Lou Amundson = D-League success story. Plus, according to my old (no offense, Stan) pal Phoenix Stan, Taylor Griffin will probably see some considerable time in the D-League with the Iowa Energy. Aside from those two reasons, you never know when they'll have their next point guard tryout!
Portland Trail Blazers: It's tough to say with Portland. They have the best community on the internet, but when resident Blazer expert Norsktroll fanposted their roster last season, it got zero love. Portland's D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, has produced the first ever D-Leaguer drafted in the NBA (Mike Taylor) and the most recent head coach to get an NBA call-up (Bryan Gates to Sacramento). They're already producing NBA talent - why can't it be Portland's?
Sacramento Kings: Kings fans should care about the D-League because the legendary Ziller does. A few weeks ago, Ziller wondered if the Kings could use the D-League effectively? By hiring Bryan Gates, I think the answer is yes: They watched him coach well in the D-League (or at least Westphal knew what he was capable of) and brought him in. Let the D-League develop guys and, when they're ready, bring them up to the big club. I'm also wondering how the addition of Gates will help Sacramento and the D-League.
San Antonio Spurs: If you don't get it yet, it's not worth me explaining.
Toronto Raptors: Last season, Pops Mensah-bonsu, Quincy Douby, Joey Graham, Nate Jawai, Jamario Moon and Patrick O'Bryant all played for the Raptors. They also all had prior D-League experience. That said, who knows who will end up on the Raptors this season from the D-League? You also now have Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson, two of the more recent would-be D-League success stories whenever they get some NBA PT.
Utah Jazz: Because your team has the closest thing to a direct affiliation with the D-League without actually having to pay for it. The Flash run your system, their coach is a former Jazz assistant and their owner someday wants to be an NBA owner. Couple that with the fact that Fes, Koufos and Eric Maynor will all likely see a bit of time in Orem this season, and the D-League is worth paying attention to.
Washington Wizards: Seriously, the comments in this post by Mike Prada over at BulletsForever makes the case for and against the D-League. You should need no other prodding as to why you should care about the D-League.