Many say the NBA Development League is the second highest level of basketball in the world. Thus, while most prospects aspire to break into The Association, it's still a relatively big accomplishment to carve out a role for one's self on the minor league level. Veterans are valuable on any level of play, and the D-League is no exception.
With that in mind, Mark Tyndale is one of the most well respected players around. The 29 year old has been around the D-League for parts of four seasons, and arguably understands how to add value as a team-player better than most. Tyndale doesn't need to pour in the points to be successful. Instead, he can defend multiple positions, has steady court-vision for a swingman, and is a strong rebounder for a player his size.
Once again, the Reno Bighorns' high octane offense is first in the league in points scored through nine games. Logging a versatile effort and helping make an impact in other ways, Tyndale is third in rebounds (5.6) and fourth in steals (1.5).
As the Kings look to develop young talent currently facing their first form of professional competition, employing Tyndale's stable presence pays dividends in more ways than one.
"Veteran presences are necessary, I think, just because the D-League is a different beast," Bighorns' Director of Player Personnel and Assistant Coach Scott Schroeder told RidiculousUpside.com. "The travel, the roster turnover, the different motives everyone has for being in the D-League - there are a lot of factors that make playing in the D-League a pretty big adjustment for the younger players getting their first taste of action in our league."
"From the coaching staff's perspective, the more veterans that can provide stability, the better as it makes everyone's job easier because you have a team full of professionals that are going to be able to either lead by example or with their voice," he added. "Our first three draft picks all have a lot of high-level experience and I think that's shown to be a help for us so far this season."
Executives are often praised for finding unique and/or under the radar talent in the D-League. But because of the intangibles a player like Tyndake provides both on and off the court, it should say even more about someone who can recognize the value a veteran like him provides.
Prior to this season, Tyndale last spent time in the D-League back in 2012-13. It was during that campaign that Schroeder got to know the swingman while he was playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Schroeder was serving as Director of Basketball Operations. Reno drafted Tyndale in the third round of this past October's D-League Draft, ahead of a slew of younger players and even past NBA veterans.
"I lobbied to get him to Reno because he's a veteran presence that I knew would be a guy that would help us in the locker room and on the floor," Schroeder pointed out.
"The biggest reason for us targeting Mark, though, was just his veteran presence and locker room leadership," the executive/coach asserted. "He's played at high levels, he understands the D-League grind, he's tough and - from knowing him personally - I knew he was someone we'd benefit from having around a talented group of guys because he knows what turns a talented team into a winning team at this level."
At 4-5, the Bighorns are still coming together as a team this season. Their system was proven to be successful last season, however, both in helping players develop and then move onto the next level. There's certainly ample opportunity for such players to shine. In addition, clearly the younger players receive guidance, not only from the coaching staff, but from players like Tyndale, too. That in itself is invaluable experience.
All that said, though the value of veteran players for the development of others is undeniable, Tyndale is by no means an old dog. He's been able to do plenty of things to help the team when hitting the hardwood as well. He too, is finding success in the unique system.
"Mark's a defensive pest that I know can guard on the perimeter just as well as he can in the post because of his veteran knowhow and great hands," Schroeder said. "He was a good playmaker and also shot the ball very well for us in Sioux Falls, two things that I thought would benefit him in our system."