Last season, the NBA allowed teams to assign first and second-year players to their D-League affiliate(s) without the player's consent.
This season, the NBA is allowing first, second, and now third-year players to be assigned to D-League affiliates under the same parameters, without the player's consent (explained nicely here by HoopsRumors) .
This will allow NBA teams to allocate even more talent that they feel can benefit from a little more development, or consistent playing time, via their D-League affiliate. Judging from certain third-year players' roster positions, there are some current NBA players who will likely land on the D-League assignment radar for their respective NBA team. Here is a list of third-year guys would could find themselves logging minutes in the D-League this upcoming season.
Luke Harangody - Cleveland Cavaliers/Canton Charge
Harangody finds himself buried on the Cavaliers roster which has led the former Notre Dame standout to being non-existent thus far for Cleveland. Even with a banged up front court Harangody failed to see to the court recently, and at this point figures to be a likely candidate for assignment with the Canton Charge, Cleveland's D-League affiliate. Harangody played in 16 games for the Charge last season and averaged 19.4 points, and 12.5 rebounds for the club. Harangody is a great shooter who is the definition of a 'tweener, look for him to bounce back and forth from the Cavs to the Charge once again.
Xavier Henry - New Orleans/Iowa Energy
Henry spent one game--deep into the season--last year with the Iowa Energy. Henry currently stands as the third small forward on New Orleans' depth chart, and could benefit from a little more time with Iowa this season to aide in his development. As a freshman for Kansas, Henry averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, but has yet to transfer his abilities over onto the NBA scene. Henry did play in 45 games last season, but his quiet production so far this year could make him a candidate for New Orleans to maybe revisit Henry at the D-League level.
Daniel Orton - Oklahoma City/Tulsa 66ers
Orton made headlines just a little while ago when he was named the first GATORADE Call-Up this season out of the D-League. Orton is fourth in line at the power forward spot with OKC, and to help keep the young big man fresh, the Thunder may decide it's best for Orton to spend time back with Tulsa. Orton did play in 16 games with Orlando last season and averaged 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds a game. His position on Oklahoma City's roster leads one to assume that he could be assigned to Tulsa at some point this season.
Ish Smith - Orlando Magic/Sioux Falls Skyforce
Smith is considered to be the fastest Call-Up in D-League history when, last season, the guard joined the Los Angeles D-Fenders, and without even playing a game received a Call-Up to the Orlando Magic. Smith is the third point guard in Orlando's rotation, but did play 20.0 minutes against Minnesota the other night, he dished out 4 assists yet failed to score. With Jameer Nelson's hamstring injury, Smith may benefit from some added court time, but once Nelson returns expect Smith to return to his very limited role. Smith could benefit from some more time developing his game in the D-League. The Wake Forest alum did spend valuable time with Rio Grande Valley in the 2010-2011 season. Smith played in 8 games averaging 12.5 points, 7.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds.
Elliot Williams - Portland Trail Blazers/Idaho Stampede
Williams played in 24 games for Portland last season averaging 6.2 minutes per contest while scoring 3.6 points and grabbing just under 1.0 rebound per game. Williams was the 22nd overall pick for the Blazers in the 2010 draft and has yet to really crack the rotation in Portland. Wesley Matthews, Sasha Pavlovic, and Will Barton sit ahead of Williams on Portland's depth chart at shooting guard and perhaps head coach Terry Stotts and company will send Williams to Boise, Idaho to help the youngster land minutes with the Idaho Stampede. Fellow third-year teammate Luke Babbitt spent a little time with Idaho last season and seems to be a solid contributor for Portland even in the early stages of this season. Maybe Williams could follow suit?
Jeremy Evans - Utah Jazz/Reno Bighorns
Evans is the odd man out in Utah's impressive power forward depth, and he has logged a very small amount of time out on the court for the Jazz this season. In the 2010-2011 season, Evans spent two games with the Utah Flash in which he averaged 10.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in 32.0 minutes. This past summer Evans signed a multi-year deal with Utah, and the Jazz may look to send the 6'9'' forward to Reno for some added development time while he further blossoms his game into something Utah can ultimately install into their rather young frontcourt.