Each and every season, utilizing the D-League to help develop younger NBA players, when the minutes may not be there to go around in the big league club's rotation, becomes a more and more prevalent strategy for teams. As training camp begins and respective staffs outline their development plans for incoming rookies, this season stands to be no different. With that in mind, let's take a look some youngsters that could be headed to the minor league this year.
Though national champion Tyus Jones is very talented, there simply might not be minutes to go around at the point guard position in Minnesota. With that in mind, TwinCities.com reports that he could be assigned to the D-League at some point. But Timberwolves' brass says it'd have to be the right situation as they continue to use the flexible assignment system.
"We haven't really used (the development league) in the past, and that's something we're trying to rectify," General Manager Milt Newton said. "If here's an opportunity for us to use the D-League, we will do that, with Tyus especially. But it can be a position where you send him to the D-League and he plays only 14, 15, 20 minutes a game, which was the situation last year.
NBATV analyst Greg Anthony also reportedly chimed in, adding, "For one, it gives him a chance to play," Anthony said. "It's not going to be extended. If I'm them, I want him here and part of the culture and let him learn. But I'd send him down maybe for a week and 10 days to let him play and then bring him back.
And after seeing the likes of James Young and Marcus Smart play for the Maine Red Claws last season, Terry Rozier and the Celtics' other new rookies are open to spending time in the D-League as well.
"If the coaches think that's best for me, that's fine with me," Rozier conveyed, according to NESN.com. "I'm not going to complain. I get to do something I love."
"I'm open for whatever they put me up to, and I'm blessed to be in this situation," R.J. Hunter asserted. "I'm blessed to be on the good team that we have. And as a young guy, you can't ask for minutes right away. You have to earn that. We have a lot of good players, man, and whatever they ask me to do to win games, I'm all for it. I'm in a good organization, and I'm blessed."
"I'm just looking forward to starting practice, and whatever coach asks me to do, tells me to do, I'm willing to do it," Jordan Mickey added. "If that is going to the D-League and playing there, I'm willing to do it. I know what it's for, and I don't look at it as a bad thing. I look at it as just (a way to) continue to get better and get some experience."
As far as draft and stash guys are concerned, Dakari Johnson will be playing full-time for the Oklahoma City Blue this coming season, and Andrew Harrison will be donning an Iowa Energy jersey during the campaign. This too, is becoming a popular practice because it allows NBA teams to develop youngsters with more minutes to give, all the while retaining their draft rights until they're ready to sign. (See here for Harrison) and (see here for Johnson).