With seventeen of the NBA D-League's eighteen teams now entered into single affiliations with parent squads from The Association, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants now stand tall as the minor league's sole independent franchise. Due to other developments across the D-League, Fort Wayne will host a total of thirteen NBA affiliates entering this coming season.
Clearly, an one-to-one relationship between an NBA and D-League team is a fast growing trend. Still, that doesn't mean an independent squad cannot find success, nonetheless. Just last season, the Mad Ants defied the odds and won their first minor league championship in franchise history. They'll look to defend it this coming year, all the while balancing a bevy of relationships with various NBA teams.
Sometimes balancing such relationships and fulfilling the needs of aforementioned NBA teams (and their respective players), all the while attempting to compete, can prove to be a tricky task. Nevertheless, 2013-14 D-League Coach of the Year Conner Henry and co. seem to have a method to their madness. Having gotten into a successful rhythm last year, it's clear the organization has a firm grasp on how to thrust ahead and keep all involved motivated enough to continue trucking along.
Maintaining relationships with thirteen affiliates may prove to be overwhelming at times, but if there's any immediate benefit at all, it's that the Mad Ants are now able to tour the country, visiting the cities of their various affiliates, on a quest to find talented players to hit the hardwood this coming season. The open tryout process has already begun, but it's safe to say Fort Wayne is able to cast a much wider net in hopes of discovering a few diamonds in the rough along the way.
Having recently completed tryouts in Minnesota, the team's coaching staff will now travel to Chicago (September 14th), New Jersey (September 20th), Washington D.C (September 28th), and Atlanta (October 4th). The grind continues.
For those who believe they may have what it takes to compete in the D-League and wish to tryout for the defending champions, you can click here for more info on all remaining tryouts.