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Are There Any Difference Makers In The NBA D-League? Ridiculous Upside Q&A 4.0

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In our fourth Q&A, editor Dakota Schmidt answers various questions from the Ridiculous Upside community.

During the midst of last year’s off-season, Ridiculous Upside started to do occasional Q&As where we’d answer questions from the @ridicupside account. While we’ve been caught up by the terrific NBA D-League season over the past few months, I thought it would be a good time to get back on the grind as we get closer to the off-season. So without further ado, let’s get to the Q&A.

Aside from the constant debate about how D-Leaguers should be paid more, this is probably the most discussed topic when it comes to the NBADL. With the likes of Milwaukee, Atlanta and Memphis each getting their own NBA D-League affiliate combined with the Magic’s affiliate moving to Lakeland, Florida, there are only five teams that don’t maintain their own D-League affiliate.

At this point, it’s hard to tell which of the five squads without a D-League affiliate (Clippers, Blazers, Pelicans, Wizards and Trail Blazers) will land a squad first. Over the last few years, each of those teams have been involved in various rumors. However, it doesn’t appear that there has been any substansial progress made with each of those team’s pursuits of a D-League affilate.

While there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the air, the LA Clippers might be the closests to landing an affiliate. That thought is due to the fact that the D-League president Malcolm Turner seems to really want an affiliate in Bakersfield after the Phoenix Suns purchased the Jam and moved them to Northern Arizona. Considering the relative close proximity between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, it would make a lot of sense for the Clippers to create their own NBADL affiliate in that city.

As for the first question, I’d give a rough estimate to 2018-19 season for when we finally reach the goal of each NBA team having their own D-League affiliate. That guesstimate is due to the recent pattern of there being two-three new D-League squads during every season.

If you’ve ever read any of my pieces, you’d know that I’m a huge optimist when it comes to how D-League players are able to perform in the NBA. While that optimism regularly makes me look ridiculous, there are rare ocassions when we see a D-League alum like Yogi Ferrell or Hassan Whiteside just immediately shine in the NBA.

When you look at the current D-Leaguers, I can probably name around five to ten players that should be on an NBA rotation right now. Some of those players include: Vander Blue, Jalen Jones, Eric Moreland, Phil Pressey, Edy Tavares and Keith Benson. Among those six prospects, three of them (Tavares, Moreland and Benson) stand as front-court players that have shined as really talented rim protectors and offensive rebounders.

While talented scorers and facilitators will always be the most eye-popping players, I believe that it’s easier to grab a defensive minded big from the D-League rather than a backcourt player that would have to get adjusted to how that particular teamn plays. So to answer the question, I’d actually take a look at a front-courtplayer that protect the rim on both ends of the court.

While I’m probably biased as a D-Leaguer, but I think NBA fans miss a lot when they don’t follow the NBADL. As most fans of the league could tell you, the NBADL is the best way to watch basketball and also be able to find that potential “diamond in a rough” player that could wind up as the next Hassan Whiteside or Yogi Ferrell. Outside of scouting D-League prospects, NBA fans that don’t NBADL hoops miss out on witnessing some potential rule changes that could eventually make its way to the NBA.

As far as I know, there haven’t been any rumblings about the Iowa Energy changing their name or even moving due to their new relationship with the Timberwolves. Going off the statements that T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor when he announced their relationship with Iowa, it doesn’t seem like there’s any real hurry to move the Energy away from Ioway.