The 2014-2015 NBADL season has just concluded, with the Santa Cruz Warriors rising up as league champions. The Warriors victory was a punctuation on a very successful and visible year for the NBADL. The D-League boasted a few familiar faces (James Michael McAdoo, Jordan Crawford, and Aaron Craft) playing for their teams during the NBADL championship; and there was also some high level of play this season from some older NBA veterans (Damien Wilkins and Mike James) who still proved to be vital to their teams.
However, the biggest success of the season could be the record number of GATORADE call ups. In addition to the NBA teams assigning guys on the active roster to their NBADL affiliates for development, the league had 63 call ups to the NBA during the season. Players such as Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, and Langston Galloway have all went from D-League rosters to playing huge minutes for their NBA-affiliate squads.
Other up and coming basketball stars that started to make names for themselves and gain some well-deserved NBA buzz included Vander Blue, Willie Reed, and Darington Hobson. While the league had a very successful year, the question is now, can the success/momentum be sustained?
Family NBA ties also played a big part in the interest of the league this past year. Klay Thompson, one half of the NBA leading Golden State Warriors backcourt, called "the Splash Brothers" has an older brother, Mychel Thompson, that was a key player for the championship D-League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors. Klay Thompson was often seen at Santa Cruz games showing his support for his brother. Other family links to NBA players included as Seth Curry (brother of probable NBA MVP Stephen Curry), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo), and Drew Gordon (brother of Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon).
In addition, it's becoming increasingly easier to catch an NBADL game. The league added to its fantastic YouTube presence by broadcasting its postseason games on ESPN this past season.
As a whole, the D-League did very well this season, on multiple fronts. 38% of players on NBA teams boasted minor league experience. Total attendance surpassed 1 million for a sixth straight year as 1.24 million fans attended games.A record nine NBA D-League teams secured jersey partnerships for the 2014-15 season. And perhaps more importantly, the league announced that it set a record NBA player assignments (195).
There's no doubt, the league is trending up. Whether it'll be able to continue to prosper at such a high level remains to be seen, but the opportunity is there.