NBA teams undoubtedly see the value in utilizing the D-League. There are plenty of ways to do so, but helping rehabbing veterans shake the rust off during minor league action is certainly one of them.
But in order to do that, more likely than not, players need to be convinced to take a chance on the D-League themselves. Six-year NBA veteran Brandon Jennings, the impressive guard who holds career averages of 16.2 points and 6.6 assists, probably isn't someone who most would think could choose to make such a splash.
But Jennings did just that, opting to hit the hardwood for the Grand Rapids Drive, affiliate of the Detroit Pistons. Coming off injury, Jennings can use all the rehab he can get. Still, the fact that a player of his status seemingly believes in what the D-League represents means a lot, not only for where the league is today, but where it's continuously headed as well. This is the example that the league, and seemingly all of its teams, hope to set.
Helping Grand Rapids total 130 points, Jennings and Co. easily defeated the Iowa Energy on Saturday evening. While Jennings could have gone rogue and run with abandon en route to pouring in 50 points, he did just the opposite. Dishing out 12 assists, he helped six of his Drive teammates reach double-figures. Three others scored 8 or more. As such, the victory came from a well balanced effort.
Jennings is a skillful scorer on the NBA level, so one could believe that he would dominate in similar fashion with Grand Rapids. But as it so happens, his veteran know-how and respective playmaking ability paid dividends for all, as he quickly had a positive impact for his teammates on the offensive end. Still shaking the rust off a bit himself, Jennings did commit 5 turnovers while also adding 11 points in 27 minutes of play. Perhaps his turnover rate was simply a product of him attempting to let loose while helping his team run and gun a bit more than usual. The speed of a D-League contest is certainly different than that of an NBA game, and Jennings took full advantage.
Benefiting from a veteran presence on the court is one thing. Still, Jennings' decision to play in a minor league may open up the eyes of others who may still be suspect, not only of the opportunity, but the quality level of play the D-League can offer similarly rehabbing veterans. He's undoubtedly the most-well known NBA commodity to give such a method a try himself, to date.