Since the D-League established itself in 2001, there have been a total 306 call-ups to the NBA, some of which have led to long-term, guaranteed contracts. However, while the league continues to grow by leaps and bounds, there is something that remains a big problem: year after year, many of the top prospects leave the D-League in pursuit of a better salary overseas.
In a previous article on RidiculousUpside.com, it was revealed that D-League players are faced with three possible contracts: $13,000, $19,000 and $24,000. Seeing as those are all tough salaries to make a good living off of, there is no wonder why we continue to see extremely talented players put their NBA dreams on the back burners and head to the likes of Europe and Asia in the short-run.
Unfortunately, this trend won't end anytime soon because, as you'll see from the table below based on the experts' list, many of the top prospects from last season aren't currently on NBA rosters; they are either free agents or have signed a contract with a foreign team.
|Name||2012-2013 Team||Statistics||2013-2014 Team|
|Lester Hudson||Austin Toros||18.2 PPG, 43.7% FG, 42.7% 3PT, 5.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.4 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Jeremy Tyler||Santa Cruz Warriors||17.4 PPG, 54.9% FG, 8.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG.||New York Knicks|
|Travis Leslie||Santa Cruz Warriors||15.4 PPG, 49.5% FG, 36.4% 3PT, 6.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.7 SPG.||JSF Nanterre (France)|
|Jermaine Taylor||Maine Red Claws||24.4 PPG, 48.7% FG, 36.4% 3PT, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.5 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Hilton Armstrong||Santa Cruz Warriors||13.4 PPG, 62.8% FG, 6.8 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 1.0 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Glen Rice, Jr.||Rio Grande Valley Vipers||13.0 PPG, 49.1% FG, 38.5% 3PT, 6.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 SPG.||Washington Wizards|
|D.J. Kennedy||Erie Bayhawks, Rio Grande Valley Vipers||16.6 PPG, 43.9% FG, 35.6% 3PT, 7.7 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.6 SPG.||Dallas Mavericks|
|Samardo Samuels||Canton Charge, Reno Bighorns||19.8 PPG, 48.8% FG, 10.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 BPG.||EA7 Milan (Italy)|
|Chris Wright||Maine Red Claws||18.3 PPG, 51.4 % FG, 9.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.5 BPG.||Toronto Raptors|
|Chris Wright||Iowa Energy||16.1 PPG, 44.0% FG, 30.5% 3PT, 6.8 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Jerome Jordan||Erie Bayhawks, L.A. D-Fenders||12.4 PPG, 61.4% FG, 7.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 2.0 BPG.||Virtus Bologna (Italy)|
|Josh Selby||Reno Bighorns, Canton Charge, Maine Red Claws||14.4 PPG, 39.2% FG, 27.1% 3PT, 4.7 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.9 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Courtney Fortson||L.A. D-Fenders||17.8 PPG, 39.8% FG, 35.5% 3PT, 7.1 APG, 5.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG.||Avtodor Saratov (Russia)|
|Lazar Hayward||L.A. D-Fenders||15.9 PPG, 50.6% FG, 41.7% 3PT, 8.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.9 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Rick Jackson||Austin Toros||10.8 PPG, 52.2% FG, 10.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG.||Gilboa Galil (Israel)|
|Arinze Onuaku||Canton Charge||12.6 PPG, 56.4% FG, 9.5 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.9 BPG, 0.6 SPG.||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Tony Mitchell||Fort Wayne Mad Ants||21.9 PPG, 42.2% FG, 31.7% 3PT, 6.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.4 SPG.||Talk N' Tell Tropang Texters (Philippines)|
|Delonte West||Texas Legends||10.3 PPG, 35.1% FG, 20.0% 3PT, 4.4 APG, 3.8 RPG, 2.2 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Willie Reed||Austin Toros||12.3 PPG, 49.6% FG, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG.||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Demetris Nochols||Sioux Falls Skyforce||18.7 PPG, 46.7% FG, 36.2% 3PT, 5.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG.||Krasnye Krylia (Russia)|
|Damion James||Bakersfield Jam||15.8 PPG, 41.2% FG, 26.0% 3PT, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.1 BPG.||Denver Nuggets|
|Sean Singletary||Texas Legends||13.0 PPG, 42.0% FG, 36.9% 3PT, 5.6 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 SPG.||Telenet Oostende (Belgium)|
|Chris Roberts||Texas Legends, Austin Toros||14.4 PPG, 43.6% FG, 32.3% 3PT, 4.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG.||Juve Caserta (Italy)|
|Elijah Millsap||L.A. D-Fenders||17.4 PPG, 41.7% FG, 34.9% 3PT, 6.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.0 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Ben Uzoh||Springfield Armor||12.6 PPG, 40.9% FG, 27.9% 3PT, 5.2 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Rasual Butler||Tulsa 66ers||17.8 PPG, 42.3% FG, 34.7% 3PT, 5.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.4 BPG, 0.7 SPG.||Indiana Pacers|
Santa Cruz Warriors
|9.2 PPG, 39.1% FG, 32.8% 3PT, 6.0 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.9 SPG.||Free Agent|
|Tyler Honeycutt||Reno Bighorns, Rio Grande Valley Vipers||10.5 PPG, 48.8% FG, 40.6% 3PT, 7.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.2 BPG.||Ironi Nes-Ziona (Israel)|
|Ron Howard||Fort Wayne Mad Ants||19.1 PPG, 45.9% FG, 27.8% 3PT, 4.7 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.4 SPG.||Indiana Pacers|
|Justin Dentmon||Austin Toros, Texas Legends||22.9 PPG, 41.8% FG, 36.2% 3PT, 3.9 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG.||
Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania)
While nine of the D-League's top prospects landed NBA contracts this off-season, all but two - Glen Rice Jr. and Jeremy Tyler - are non-guaranteed or training camp invites only. And seeing as most NBA teams have the majority of their rosters already set, the likelihood of the aforementioned players getting a highly coveted guaranteed contract are quite slim.
With more NBA teams establishing single affiliations, it is only solidifying the D-League's reputation as a farming system where young, inexperienced players are given a chance to hone their craft. After all, out of the 180 players drafted between 2010-2012, 46 percent of them have spent time in the NBA's minor league, most of whom have been on assignment not as a punishment, yet as an opportunity to adjust to the pro game.
With success stories such as Cory Joseph, Danny Green and Donatas Motiejunas, the days of high draft picks spending time in the D-League are just getting started. While this will only help them develop into the types of players their NBA teams have in mind for them, it'll make it harder for D-League players to make their NBA dreams come true. If that's the case, the trend of D-League players being one-and-done (similar to what we are used to seeing at the collegiate level) may continue to grow, which could hurt the competitiveness of the league in the long run.
The obvious solution is to offer more lucrative contracts, as the combination of that as well as the opportunity to play in front of NBA executives night in, night out will help keep many of the top prospects around. However, because about only half of the D-League's franchises are only now making a profit, it's unlikely that salary increases are the first job on the agenda.