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D-League Players Often Meet Harsh NBA Realities After Getting Called Up

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While the initial call-up can be exciting, NBA D-League players are finding out that minutes in the NBA are not easy to come by.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The phone rings.

It's an NBA general manager offering the chance to jump up from the NBA D-League. This is the phone call that each and every D-League player hopes for and one that would constitute a fulfillment of their biggest dreams. Whether it's a young player looking for his first shot in the NBA, or a veteran trying to work his way back into the league, years of hard work goes into getting that very call.

With the NBA Trade Deadline now well in the rearview mirror, more and more players are getting these types of calls and being offered the chance at playing in the NBA through the form of a ten-day contract. That initial excitement is quite a high, as players finally will have the chance to prove themselves on the highest level of basketball.

As many of these players, most recently Jimmer Fredette with the New York Knicks, come to find out, the opportunity to play in the NBA can be very fleeting. Though they are brought in with the best of intentions, it's often difficult for coaches to find playing time for their new additions, especially if they're in the midst of a playoff race.

Over the past two seasons, eleven different players have been called up to the NBA (nine of them on ten-day contracts) only to play less than ten minutes and Jarell Eddie, one of the D-League's best three-point shooters at the time, didn't get to play at all.

D-League Players Who Received Less Than 10 Minutes in NBA
Player GP MP Team
Jimmer Fredette 2 5 NYK
J.J. O'Brien 2 6 UTA
Thanasis Antetokounmpo 2 6 NYK
Alex Stepheson 2 8 LAC
Kalin Lucas 1 5 MEM
Malcolm Lee 1 2 PHI
Tyrus Thomas 2 6 MEM
Jarell Eddie 0 0 ATL
Jerrelle Benimon 2 2 UTA
Seth Curry 2 7 PHX
David Wear 2 6 SAC

The players are not the only ones frustrated with the lack of opportunity that they receive, as former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks noted, management also wants to see ten-day contract players get a chance:

Though the lack of playing time certainly hurts, even ten-day contracts can make a substantial impact on the financial situation for the player, especially so for rookies. As Ridiculous Upside explained a couple of years ago, ten-day contracts are for a pro-rated portion of the NBA minimum, which for rookies equals out to around $30,000, for one-year veterans around $48,000 and for veterans of two or more seasons $53,000.

Even with the boost in pay, however, for these players to go from being the focal point of their teams in the D-League to barely even playing, there's quite an adjustment that needs to be made mentally. While some opt to go overseas rather than wait for another chance at the NBA, many others will take this lack of playing time to heart and work relentlessly to find a way to get another NBA contract.

It can often be a tough pill to swallow as even though most players know going in that they won't be tasked with running the offense or anything of that nature, they still come in with the mindset that they'll at least get a fair chance at sticking around. As has been made clear over the past few years, that opportunity is not guaranteed and each player that receives that treatment needs to be able to take it in stride if they want to find their way back into the NBA again.