With the national NBA Draft Combine now in the books and individual teams beginning to host a bevy of promising prospects at their own facilities for private workouts, it's safe to assume the NBA Draft is a top priority for many executives right now.
As it currently stands, the Cavaliers, Suns, Jazz, Timberwolves, and Hawks all have multiple first round picks in next month's event. Any of that can change, as teams are often seen working feverishly up to the final seconds to acquire an extra pick or two to ensure the top talent on their list does not elude them.
The draft can serve many purposes for NBA squads. For some, it's an opportunity for a fresh start and/or reinvention. For others, the task becomes finding that diamond in the rough who is ready to step right in and make immediate and meaningful contributions.
Nevertheless, though there are so many intriguing young talents to be had, there are only so many draft selections to go around. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth it for executives to keep an eye on as many promising players that catch their eye.
Though most NBA squads are only equipped with one first and one second round pick, there are still different ways to bring an array of prospects into the fold if so desired.
Despite how talented a prospect may be, there's no denying talented players slip through the cracks and go undrafted all the time. For this reason, it's important for executives to continue following up with such fringe options, because even if a team isn't drafting close to where a player is expected to be drafted, unexpected opportunities can always arise.
With each new season, the NBA D-League is progressing more and more towards becoming utilized as a more traditional minor league system of The Association. Ten of the league's sixteen teams had single-affiliations last season, and the 76ers are only set to join that growing list with an NBADL team of their own next season.
Thus, an organization can choose to fill its minor league squad up with players they'd like to keep a closer eye on. If someone's skill-set intrigues an organization, utilizing the D-League gives them the ability to get a better idea as to how that prospect would do in a professional and more competitive setting.
The more one observes interactions between top NBA executives and players who may be on the cusp of getting drafted and/or making it to The Association, the more it's easy to see the executives have young guns who they favor. Some athletes are easier to root for than others, which sometimes causes such executives to develop a soft spot for them.
There are clearly no guarantees. Still, should a prospect not be able to find a prime opportunity right off the bat, NBA executives may still be able to throw them a bone. Making a strong impression, be it through one's abilities or positive attitude, may result in an offer of a D-League contract or something similar.
According to ZagsBlog, one executive regarded troubled yet talented prospect Josiah Turner as a "fringe D-League guy." Though that specific reference perhaps wasn't used in the most positive of pretenses, there's no doubt that other aspiring NBA players would be chomping at the bit to earn such an opportunity come the beginning of next season.
The journey to obtaining such an opportunity and/or catching an executive's attention for later starts now as well.