NBA Development League logo
|No. of teams||17|
|Continent||FIBA Americas (Americas)|
|Most recent champion(s)||Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2nd title)|
|Most titles||Asheville Altitude, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2 titles)|
|TV partner(s)||CBS Sports Network/NBA TV/NBA TV Canada|
|Official website||NBA D-League|
The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the National Basketball Association's official minor league basketball organization. Known until summer 2005 as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), the NBA D-League started with eight teams in the fall of 2001. In March 2005, NBA commissioner David Stern announced a plan to expand the NBA D-League to fifteen teams and develop it into a true minor league farm system, with each NBA D-League team affiliated with one or more NBA teams. For the 2012–13 season, the league consists of 16 teams, 11 of which are either single-affiliated or owned by an NBA team. At the conclusion of the 2010–11 NBA season, 23% of NBA players had spent time in the NBA D-League.
The league began play as the NBDL in the 2001–2002 season; the original eight franchises were all located in the southeastern United States (specifically in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia). Some of these teams were purchased by private owners and relocated—at the same time the league's name was changed—in the summer of 2005, in a bid to appeal to more fans nationwide. As a result, franchises were established in or moved to Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Florida and Oklahoma. In February 2006, the D-League expanded to California for the first time with the addition of the Bakersfield Jam. Two months later, the league announced that four teams from the Continental Basketball Association were joining the league: the Dakota Wizards, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Idaho Stampede, and a team originally slated for CBA expansion, the Colorado 14ers. A few days after that, the league announced that Anaheim, California, would be getting a team. One week after that, they announced that the Los Angeles Lakers have purchased a team, making them the first NBA team to own a D-League team. The westward expansion contributed to the contraction of the NBA-owned Roanoke Dazzle and Fayetteville Patriots. The Florida Flame have suspended operations due to arena scheduling difficulties.  Today, no NBA D-League teams remain in the league's original Southeastern footprint. On November 5, 2009, the Texas Legends made history by hiring Nancy Lieberman as head coach, the first female head coach to lead an NBA or NBA D-League team.
On January 4, 2010, the league announced its first national television agreement with Versus. Versus is slated to carry 10 regular season games and 6 playoff games throughout 2010, airing on Saturday nights beginning January 16. The league will have a new national broadcast partner in the CBS Sports Network, starting with the 2012–13 season. Select games will also be streamed live on YouTube.
The NBA Development League held its first All-Star game February 17, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was part of the NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. As with the NBA's showcase game, a fan vote determined the starting lineup for each team. The East won 114 to 100, with Pops Mensah-Bonsu named the game's MVP.
The second annual All-Star game was held on February 16, 2008, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Blue team beat the Red team, 117–99 and Jeremy Richardson was named the MVP. In addition to the NBA D-League All-Star Game, the league debuted its first Dream Factory Friday Night events, which modeled after the NBA All-Star Saturday Night events. The events consists of Three-Point Shootout (won by Adam Harrington), Slam Dunk Contest (won by Brent Petway) and game of H.O.R.S.E. (won by Lance Allred).
The 2009 D-League All-Star game was held on February 14, 2009, at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The Red Team defeated the Blue Team 113–103 and Blake Ahearn and Courtney Sims were named co-MVPs. Along with the All-Star game, the NBA D-League ran their second annual Dream Factory Friday Night events. H.O.R.S.E., which debuted last year, was won by Will Conroy of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. The Three-Point Shootout was won by Blake Ahearn of the Dakota Wizards, and the Slam Dunk Contest was won by James White of the Bakersfield Jam.
The 2010 D-League All-Star game was held on February 13, 2010, at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The Western Conference team defeated the Eastern Conference Team 98–81. Bakersfield Jam center Brian Butch, who scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, was named as the MVP of the game. The NBA D-League also ran their third annual Dream Factory Friday Night events. The inaugural Shooting Stars Competition was won by a team of Pat Carroll, Trey Gilder and Carlos Powell. The Three-Point Shootout was won by Andre Ingram of the Utah Flash, and the Slam Dunk Contest was won by Dar Tucker of the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
The league stages an annual NBA D-League Showcase in which all of the league's teams play each other in a "carnival" format. The showcase was first played in 2005 was originally intended solely as a scouting event for NBA general managers and scouts, but has evolved into a fan-friendly four day event in which each team plays two games apiece. Since the inception of the event in 2005, there have been 15 players called-up or recalled during or immediately following the Showcase. The showcase has been hosted in Columbus, Georgia (2005), Fayetteville, North Carolina (2006), Sioux Falls, South Dakota (2007), Boise, Idaho (2008), Orem, Utah (2009), Boise, Idaho (2010), South Padre Island, Texas (2011), and Reno, Nevada in 2012 and 2013.
The NBA D-League Draft occurs each season and is the major source from which teams build their rosters. Team rosters are made up of returning players (players who were on the team during the previous season), allocated players (players who have local significance), and drafted players. The 8 round draft utilizes a "serpentine" format, meaning the order alternates in each round; Team A who selected first in Round 1 will select last in Round 2, while Team B who selected last in Round 1 will get the first pick in Round 2, et cetera.
Players for NBA D-League teams do not sign contracts with the individual teams, but with the league itself. D-League team rosters consist of a total of 12 players, 10 (or fewer) being D-League players and 2 (or more) NBA players. The rosters are made up in a number of ways: the previous years' players, players taken in the D-League draft, allocation players (meaning players who are assigned to a team with which they have a local connection, such as a University of Texas player being assigned to the Austin Toros), NBA team assignments, and local tryouts.
Each NBA team can assign two first or second year players to its affiliated D-League team. If more than two NBA players are assigned to a team, the team must reduce the number of D-League players to keep the total roster size to 12. An NBA player will continue to be paid his NBA salary and will continue to be included on his NBA team’s roster on the inactive list while playing in the D-League. Each team also has local tryouts, and one player from the tryouts is assigned to the team.
The minimum age to play in the NBDL is 18, unlike the NBA which requires players to be 19 years old and one year out of high school in order to sign an NBA contract or be eligible for the draft. The highest player ever to be assigned is Hasheem Thabeet, the second player selected in the 2009 NBA draft.
NBA teams can call up players as many times as they choose, and there is no limit to the number of times an NBA player with three years or less experience can be assigned to the D-League. Starting in 2011–12, veteran NBA players could be assigned with their consent.
Successful NBA call-ups
Many former NBA draftees, waived players and undrafted players have played in the NBA D-League. Some of the called-up D-League players that went on to have successful NBA careers include Rafer Alston, Louis Amundson, Chris Andersen, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes, Devin Brown, Will Bynum, Matt Carroll, Eddie Gill, Stephen Graham, Jason Hart, Chuck Hayes, Anthony Johnson, Dahntay Jones, Jamario Moon, Mikki Moore, Smush Parker, Bobby Simmons, Ime Udoka, Von Wafer, C. J. Watson, and Mike Wilks. Aside from these players, there are several successful NBA players who were assigned to the D-League in their first and second season, such as José Juan Barea, Brandon Bass, Andray Blatche, Avery Bradley, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Marcin Gortat, Ramon Sessions, Jeremy Lin, Danny Green and Martell Webster.
Currently, there are only 13 players with D-League experience who won an NBA title: Tremaine Fowlkes with the Detroit Pistons in 2003–04; Devin Brown and Mike Wilks with the San Antonio Spurs in 2004–05; Earl Barron and Dorell Wright with the Miami Heat in 2005–06; James White with the San Antonio Spurs in 2006–07; Gabe Pruitt with the Boston Celtics in 2007–08; and, Sun Yue and Shannon Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers, Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell in 2008–09,and 2009-10, and most recently Jose Juan Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, Dominique Jones with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010-2011, and Dexter Pittman, Terrel Harris with the Miami Heat in 2011-2012.  Bobby Simmons and Aaron Brooks are the only former D-League players to win an NBA end of season award; Simmons won the Most Improved Player Award with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004–05 and Brooks won the Most Improved Player Award with the Houston Rockets in 2009–10.
In the 2008 NBA Draft, the Idaho Stampede's Mike Taylor was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers. He became the first player from the NBA D-League to be drafted by an NBA team. He was subsequently traded and signed a rookie contract with Los Angeles Clippers. In the 2010 NBA Draft, the Tulsa 66ers' Latavious Williams was drafted by the Miami Heat and later traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA team affiliated with the 66ers. One year later, in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Bakersfield Jam's Chukwudiebere Maduabum was drafted by the then-affiliated Los Angeles Lakers and later traded to the Denver Nuggets.
Ownership models vary across the NBA D-League. Independent owners control most of the league’s teams, but growing willingness among NBA organizations to invest in the D-League has led to two other models: direct ownership of D-League teams by parent NBA clubs and single-affiliate partnerships in which the D-League team remains independently owned while the parent club runs and finances basketball operations.
The Houston Rockets and Rio Grande Valley Vipers pioneered the single-affiliate partnership, also known as the hybrid model, in 2009–10. In November 2010, the New Jersey Nets and Springfield Armor announced they will enter into a single-affiliate partnership beginning in 2011–12 (the Nets are now known as the Brooklyn Nets). In June 2011, the New York Knicks and Erie BayHawks announced they will be single-affiliated. In May 2012, the Portland Trail Blazers entered into a single-affiliated partnership with the Idaho Stampede. The following month, the Boston Celtics and Maine Red Claws announced a single-affiliation partnership. In April 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they had purchased the inactive Utah Flash and moved them to Newark, Delaware as the Delaware 87ers.
Independent ownership: Bakersfield Jam, Erie BayHawks, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Idaho Stampede, Iowa Energy, Maine Red Claws, Reno Bighorns, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Sioux Falls Skyforce, Springfield Armor, Texas Legends
Parent club ownership: Austin Toros (by the San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Delaware 87ers (by the Philadelphia 76ers), Los Angeles D-Fenders (by the Los Angeles Lakers), Santa Cruz Warriors (by the Golden State Warriors), Tulsa 66ers (by the Oklahoma City Thunder)
Single affiliation: Erie BayHawks (with the New York Knicks), Idaho Stampede (with the Portland Trail Blazers), Maine Red Claws (by the Boston Celtics), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (with the Houston Rockets), Springfield Armor (with the Brooklyn Nets), Texas Legends (with the Dallas Mavericks)
|Team||City||Active year(s)||Former NBA affiliates||Notes|
Current teams in tan
Former teams or former names in blue
|2001–2002||Greenville Groove||81–63, 75–68||North Charleston Lowgators|
|2002–2003||Mobile Revelers||92–82, 71–77, 75–72||Fayetteville Patriots|
|2003–2004||Asheville Altitude||108–106 (OT)||Huntsville Flight|
|2004–2005||Asheville Altitude||90–67||Columbus Riverdragons|
|2005–2006||Albuquerque Thunderbirds||119–108||Fort Worth Flyers|
|2006–2007||Dakota Wizards||129–121 (OT)||Colorado 14ers|
|2007–2008||Idaho Stampede||89–95, 90–89, 108–101||Austin Toros|
|2008–2009||Colorado 14ers||136–131, 123–104||Utah Flash|
|2009–2010||Rio Grande Valley Vipers||136–131, 94–91||Tulsa 66ers|
|2010–2011||Iowa Energy||123–106, 122–141, 119–111||Rio Grande Valley Vipers|
|2011–2012||Austin Toros||101–109 (OT), 113–94, 122–110||Los Angeles D-Fenders|
|2012–2013||Rio Grande Valley Vipers||112–102, 102–91||Santa Cruz Warriors|
Note: For the 2001–02 and 2002–03 seasons, (and resuming with the 2007–08 season onwards) the championship has been a best-of-three game series.
Awards and honors
Most Valuable Player
- 2001–02 Ansu Sesay, Greenville Groove
- 2002–03 Devin Brown, Fayetteville Patriots
- 2003–04 Tierre Brown, Charleston Lowgators
- 2004–05 Matt Carroll, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2005–06 Marcus Fizer, Austin Toros
- 2006–07 Randy Livingston, Idaho Stampede
- 2007–08 Kasib Powell, Sioux Falls Skyforce
- 2008–09 Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
- 2009–10 Mike Harris, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
- 2010–11 Curtis Stinson, Iowa Energy
- 2011–12 Justin Dentmon, Austin Toros
- 2012–13 Andrew Goudelock, Rio Grand Valley Vipers
Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year
- 2006–07 Bryan Gates, Idaho Stampede
- 2007–08 Bryan Gates, Idaho Stampede
- 2008–09 Quin Snyder, Austin Toros
- 2009–10 Chris Finch, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
- 2010–11 Nick Nurse, Iowa Energy
- 2011–12 Eric Musselman, Los Angeles D-Fenders
- 2012–13 Alex Jensen, Canton Charge
Rookie of the Year
- 2001–02 Fred House, North Charleston Lowgators
- 2002–03 Devin Brown, Fayetteville Patriots
- 2003–04 Desmond Penigar, Asheville Altitude
- 2004–05 James Thomas, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2005–06 Will Bynum, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2006–07 Louis Amundson, Colorado 14ers
- 2007–08 Blake Ahearn, Dakota Wizards
- 2008–09 Othyus Jeffers, Iowa Energy
- 2009–10 Alonzo Gee, Austin Toros
- 2010–11 DeShawn Sims, Maine Red Claws
- 2011–12 Edwin Ubiles, Dakota Wizards
- 2012–13 Tony Mitchell, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Defensive Player of the Year
- 2001–02 Jeff Myers, Greenville Groove
- 2002–03 Mikki Moore, Roanoke Dazzle
- 2003–04 Karim Shabazz, Charleston Lowgators
- 2004–05 Derrick Zimmerman, Columbus Riverdragons
- 2005–06 Derrick Zimmerman, Austin Toros
- 2006–07 Renaldo Major, Dakota Wizards
- 2007–08 Mouhamed Sene, Idaho Stampede, and Stephane Lasme, Los Angeles D-Fenders
- 2008–09 Brent Petway, Idaho Stampede
- 2009–10 Greg Stiemsma, Sioux Falls Skyforce
- 2010–11 Chris Johnson, Dakota Wizards
- 2011–12 Stefhon Hannah, Dakota Wizards
- 2012–13 Stefhon Hannah, Santa Cruz Warriors
Impact Player of the Year
- 2007–08 Morris Almond, Utah Flash
- 2008–09 Eddie Gill, Colorado 14ers
- 2009–10 Brian Butch, Bakersfield Jam
- 2010–11 Jeff Adrien, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
- 2011–12 Eric Dawson, Austin Toros
- 2012–13 Rasual Butler, Tulsa 66ers
Most Improved Player
- 2009–10 Mildon Ambres, Idaho Stampede
- 2010–11 Dar Tucker, New Mexico Thunderbirds
- 2011–12 Kenny Hayes, Maine Red Claws
- 2012–13 Cameron Jones, Santa Cruz Warriors
Executive of the Year
- 2009–10 Jon Jennings, Maine Red Claws
- 2010–11 Bert Garcia, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
- 2011–12 David Higdon, Bakersfield Jam
- 2012–13 TBA
Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award
- 2001–02 Mike Wilks, Huntsville Flight
- 2002–03 Billy Thomas, Greenville Groove
- 2005–06 Ime Udoka, Fort Worth Flyers
- 2006–07 Roger Powell, Arkansas RimRockers
- 2007–08 Billy Thomas, Colorado 14ers
- 2008–09 Will Conroy, Albuquerque Thunderbirds
- 2009–10 Andre Ingram, Utah Flash
- 2010–11 Larry Owens, Tulsa 66ers
- 2011–12 Moses Ehambe, Iowa Energy
- 2012–13 Ron Howard, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
All-Star Game MVP
- 2006 Robert Adams, Tulsa 66ers
- 2007 Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Fort Worth Flyers
- 2008 Jeremy Richardson, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
- 2009 Blake Ahearn, Dakota Wizards and Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
- 2010 Brian Butch, Bakersfield Jam
- 2011 Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
- 2012 Gerald Green, Los Angeles D-Fenders
- 2013 Travis Leslie, Santa Cruz Warriors
All-NBA Development League Team
- "Four teams to leave". Continental Basketball Association. April 6, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
- "NBA Development League Expands To Four Cities". NBA.com. April 6, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
- "NBA Development League Expands To Anaheim". NBA.com. April 11, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
- Sheridan, Chris (April 19, 2006). "NBA approves Lakers' ownership of D-League team". ESPN. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
- "D-League Will No Longer Operate Roanoke Dazzle". NBA.com. May 1, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
- "D-League Will No Longer Operate In Fayetteville". NBA.com. May 2, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
- "12 teams to comprise NBA Development League in 2007–08". oursportscentral.com. May 8, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2006.
- Brennan, Matthew (February 21, 2007). "Mensah-Bonsu, East Team Come Out On Top". NBA.com. NBA. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
- Wurst, Matt (February 16, 2008). "Stars Work, Play Hard in D-League All-Star Game". NBA.com. NBA. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
- "Sims And Ahearn Named Co-MVPs As Red Defeats Blue In All-Star Game". NBA.com/DLeague. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 14, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
- "James White Soars To NBA D-League Slam Dunk Championship". NBA.com/DLeague. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 13, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
- "Brian Butch Captures MVP Honors In 2010 All-Star Game". NBA.com/DLeague. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 13, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- "Haier Shooting Stars Set Record At Dream Factory Friday Night". NBA.com/DLeague. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. February 12, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- "CBA Principal Deal Points". NBA. August 4, 2005. Retrieved January 19, 2011. "The player will continue to be paid his NBA salary and will continue to be included on his NBA team’s roster (on the inactive list) while playing in the NBADL."
- "D-League lowers the age requirement to 18". ESPN.com. ESPN. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
- "NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement Seen Giving Boost To NBA Development League". NBA.com (Turner Sports Interactive, Inc). December 8, 2011. Archived from the original on December 12, 2011.
- "NBA Development League: All-Time Gatorade Call-Ups". NBA.com. April 14, 2009. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "63 Former NBA D-League Players On 2009 Opening Night Rosters". NBA.com. October 27, 2009. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
- "NBA Development League: Former NBA D-Leaguers In The 2009 NBA Finals". NBA.com. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
- "Simmons Named Most Improved". NBA.com. April 28, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "Rockets' Brooks named NBA's most improved player". NBA.com. April 23, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- "Idaho’s Mike Taylor Becomes First D-League Player Drafted By An NBA Team". NBA.com. June 26, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "Latavious Williams Becomes Second Player Drafted By NBA Team". NBA.com. July 25, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- "Lakers Trade Draft Rights To Chukwudiebere Maduabum". NBA.com. June 23, 2011.
- "Flight can't reach Altitude for NBDL title". USA Today. April 26, 2004. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
- "Asheville 90, Columbus 67: Altitude Repeat as NBDL Champions". NBA.com. NBA. April 23, 2005. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
- Stevenson, Stefan (April 23, 2006). "T-Birds get an A-plus, take home a trophy". Albuquerque Tribune. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
- NBA Development League: Austin at Idaho
- NBA Development League: Utah at Colorado
- NBA Development League: Tulsa at Rio Grande Valley
- Is the D-League a viable alternative? - Eamonn Brennan, ESPN, 6 May 2011