Note: The following piece is the start of our series where contributors or guest writers discuss why their NBA team needs a D-League (or G-League) affiliate. With the first installment, new Ridiculous Upside contributor Jake Weingarten discusses why the Wizards are deserving of a D-League team.
Being A Contender:
The Washington Wizards are currently one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. Obviously, not many changes are gonna be coming soon for this current team. If you look down the Wizards bench, you see young players like Daniel Ochefu or Sheldon McClellan that definitely could use some time in the D-League
Even when you look past those two players, a D-League affiliate for the Wizards would still be very useful for years to come. As they continue to try to build around the core of John Wall and Bradley Beal, a D-League affiliate would an amazing way for the Wizards to develop the kind of players that could eventually surround that duo.
Finding A Location:
While there are potential locations for this D-League affiliate in states like Maryland or Virginia, it’s very likely that the team would be located in a practice facility that the team is currently building. That information comes courtesy of a Washington Post piece from September 2015 that clearly stated that they wanted a D-League franchise in time for when their new practice facility opens up for the 2018-19 season.
Finding the coach for this team wouldn’t be the hardest thing to accomplish, but it wouldn’t be the easiest. You can grab a local college coach from any level, or perhaps you grab a Wizard alum to do the job.
Here are some potential candidates:
- Maz Trakh
Trakh would be a solid candidate for assistant coach for the Wizards D-League squad due to his vast amount of coaching experience coinciding with his current stint with the team. Prior to landing in Washington for the 2016-17 season, Trakh spent the prior six seasons as the assistant coach for the OKC Thunder and Detroit Pistons while also being a scout for the Golden State Warriors in 2015-16.
- Vin Baker
Although Baker’s coaching experience in the D-League just started two weeks ago when he was hired by the Texas Legends, he still stands as a unique name that the teams could look at. For one, Baker definitely knows a thing or two about basketball due to him being a 4-time NBA All-Star due to his 13-year pro career. More important than that is how Baker was able to recover from hard-core substance abuse and just be able to turn his life around. Baker could be able to use that unfortunate experience to help D-Leaguers stay focused and away from the multitude of vices that surround professional athletes.
- Drew Gooden III
The intrigue around Gooden’s potentially becoming a coach rests on how he was constantly looked at as an awesome locker room presence during the latter stages of his playing carer. That label was most evident during his three-year stint with the Wizards as Gooden as a veteran that was able to scrap in key playoff games despite being a decade older than most of his opponents. That type of motivation could allow Gooden to be a great leader to young D-Leaguers.
- Nicki Gross
Despite being only 27 years old, Nicki Gross stands as someone that has plenty experience as an assistant coach in the D-League. Since graduating from Monmouth in 2013, Gross spent two years as a video coordinator for the Bakersfield Jam and Iowa Energy, respectively. Prior the 2015-16 season, the Energy moved her to be an assistant coach, which made Gross only the third female in D-League history to hold such position. After one season with the Energy, Gross was hired by the Raptors 905 to be one of the top assistants for Jerry Stackhouse.
While she’s still inexperienced, Gross stands as a potential D-League head coach due to her incredible basketball IQ and work ethic. Back in early November, Mad Ants GM Brian Levy tweeted that Gross had one of the best basketball minds and one of the harder workers in the D-league.
The team name should be chosen by either the organization itself or why not have the fans vote on it, quick way to show fan interaction.
Here are some possible team names that could fit nicely with the patriotism that comes with the United States capital.
- Washington Eagles
- Washington Americas or Americans
When Will This Team Come:
While we’d like to see the team come in time for the 2017-18 season, that seems like a pipe dream at this given moment. The best estimate for when that affiliate will come would be for the 2018-19 season when the Wizards open up their state-of-the-art practice facility.