The NBA D-League Select team has made some serious noise at NBA Summer League. After posting an unblemished 3-0 record, the team now prepares to take on their first opponent under the new playoff format. However, figuring out the reason for this particular group of players' success, might be easier than you think.
Learning on the fly is a major part of the NBA Development League, not only for coaches, but players too. After the NBADL Select team won their second consecutive Summer League game, head coach Alex Jensen commented on the fact that his team "only had four days of practice together," yet seemingly found a way to gel. Adapting quickly is a key component to Summer League success, as lineups and roles change about as fast as tourists' luck at the roulette table.
Does the format and style of play at Summer League actually benefit former D-League players and coaches? Maybe.
Nobody can discredit the wins that the Select team have amounted thus far, in fact their overall play has impressed NBA personnel, scouts, and media members, as demonstrated by ESPN Insider NBA analyst Kevin Pelton, who had this tweet:
Serious respect for the D-League Select Team. They're playing harder than anyone here and are now 3-0.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) July 17, 2013
Yet, ignoring the fact that players on the Select team have played under circumstances similar to Summer League during their time in the NBADL, is difficult. Their experience gives them a leg up on rookies, and second year players who have only seen practice and bench time during their short careers. Should we feel sorry for their competition? No. But understanding the overall landscape and conditions of what players on the Select team have experienced, is important.
Once again, the NBA D-League Select team has earned each and every one of their victories by playing extremely hard, and with passion. Due to their situations, the level at which Jensen and his staff have managed to get their players to play at, is exactly what this team needs to do, in order to prove themselves against the Summer League competition. The entire team has done an excellent job at showcasing the overall talent of the NBADL.
The NBA Development League will continue to be the ideal training ground, and quickest way to the NBA, and given the process of players receiving Call-Ups, assignments, and rosters changes almost nightly, whichever players make up future NBA D-League Select teams, will benefit for many NBA Summer Leagues to come.
Even though the result may have been unforeseen, and unpredictable, D-League alumni who make up the Select team, or play on any other Summer League team for that matter, have an added advantage during a period when the most important eyes are upon them, in Las Vegas.