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NBA Opening Night Will Feature Plenty Of Former D-League Players

The season has finally arrived, and with three games on the slate for the NBA's opening night schedule, six teams will have more than one former D-League player on their roster. This can be seen as a testament to the impact that the D-League has in the NBA today.

Dahntay Jones also carries D-League experience with him
Dahntay Jones also carries D-League experience with him

Tonight marks the beginning of the 2012-2013 NBA season, and each team participating in tonight's kickoff carries multiple former D-League players. When the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards to start off the evening, eight players will have played in the NBA Development League at some point in their career. NBA rosters are becoming littered with D-League alums, and the trend will likely continue as the league builds more one-to-one affiliates, and further establishes itself as the true minor league for the NBA.

Below is a look at the players who spent some amount of time in the D-League, and will be taking part in the opening night festivities.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards

The Cavs carry the most former D-League players out of any of the six teams playing tonight. Five players who will rep the Wine and Gold uniform to start this season will have played in the D-League. Cleveland has a single affiliate relationship with the Canton Charge, and current Cavalier Luke Harangody knows all about bouncing from the NBA to the D-League (and back) via Cleveland's D-League setup. Last season Harangody played in sixteen games for the Charge, he was assigned and called up three times. Harangody averaged 19.4 points, 12.6 rebounds in 36.0 minutes. Harangody also played in three playoff games with Canton where he averaged slightly less totals, 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds in 32.3 minutes. It would not be surprising if Harangody spends some more time with Canton at some point this season.

As for the Wizards, they currently have three players (Martell Webster, Cartier Martin, Earl Barron) with D-League experience on their squad. The most notable being Webster, who at the time of his assignment was the highest drafted player ever to be assigned to the D-League (6th overall). Webster spent eight games with the Fort Worth Flyers, and averaged 10.8 points per game in the 2005-2006 season. Both Cartier Martin and Earl Barron have spent sixty games in the D-League, Martin averaged 18.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists while Barron averaged 14.8 points and 9.5 rebounds during his time in the D-League.

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat

Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass are the only two current Celtics to have spent time in the D-League, Bradley played in nine games where he put up pretty impressive averages for the Maine Red Claws. Bradley averaged 17.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. Bass was assigned to the Tulsa 66ers by the New Orleans Hornets and played in only one game where he scored 16 points, and grabbed 5 rebounds during the 2005-2006 season.

Miami currently has three former D-Leaguers to their credit (Terrel Harris, Dexter Pittman, and Joel Anthony) Harris being the most seasoned D-League alum out of the group. Harris spent time with both the Maine Red Claws and Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the former undrafted Oklahoma State Cowboy has career averages of 9.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in the D-League. Both Pittman and Anthony spent much less time than Harris, combining for a total 25 games. Pittman played with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and Anthony with the Iowa Energy.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris and Earl Clark round out the group of former D-League players for this year's Los Angeles Lakers opening night roster. Ebanks carries the most D-League experience out of the group which is actually quite small, having played for both the Bakersfield Jam and Los Angeles D-Fenders the last two seasons. Ebanks' most recent stint was short lived after he impressed Lakers upper management after averaging 18.3 points and 6.0 rebounds for the D-Fenders last season.

The Mavericks have a D-League duo consisting of Dominique Jones and Dahntay Jones. Dominique Jones spent time last season with the Texas Legends and also the season prior. Jones played in a total of thirteen games for the Legends where he averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Dahntay Jones decided to spend time with the Fort Wayne Made Ants in the 2007-2008 season after receiving little interest from NBA clubs after his first five years in the league. During that time, the former Duke Blue Devil averaged 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Dahntay Jones can be found here speaking highly about his experience in the D-League with Fort Wayne.