It goes without saying that prospects who aim to get themselves noticed by playing in the NBA D-League are on a never ending grind. The league is filled with a plethora of young guns who work tirelessly to break the door down and finally sneak into The Association. Nothing is guaranteed, so it's no surprise that not much comes easy in such a league, either.
For many up and comers just starting out, beginning to strut their stuff in the D-League is crucial. With the minor league season now less than a month away, it's becoming clearer and clearer what the true key to catching on with an NBADL team really is.
Everything comes down to getting into D-League training camp. Any player hoping to get drafted, or going through the motions of group workouts, private ones, etc., hopes to earn one thing: a spot in a minor league team's training camp.
Playing in the D-League is all about proving your worth and showing you belong, so it should come as no surprise that getting drafted by a team in the league's annual selection process doesn't guarantee a player much more than simply the opportunity to compete in camp.
Impressing an NBADL team is training camp is the best way for a player to secure themselves a spot on the team come opening night. How they get to training camp, however, is up to said players.
Of course, getting drafted is one way. That said, the various open tryouts sessions that all the D-League teams end up hosting in early fall play a major role as well. Throughout the process, teams can ultimately decide to pick up to five participants from the tryouts to simply "protect" and bring on over to training camp instead.
If an already draft-eligible player has a fantastic workout in front of a specific D-League team, what's the advantage of allowing him to stay in the pool and wait for other teams to pick up on how good he is through highlight clips, previous scouting trips, etc. The advantage of actually hosting a player at an open tryout (having him at your tryout, as opposed to him participating in everyone else's, in addition) means said minor league team essentially has dibs on such a player, before anyone else. They key remains protecting him before draft day comes and he becomes available to all other teams instead.
Multiple sources have told RidiculousUpside.com that many teams have already been utilizing such a strategy, so come draft night, it'll be interesting to see who goes where, and who may already be "protected" by which team.