by Charlie O. Mallonee
SACRAMENTO–There was a time if you did not make the roster of an NBA team going overseas to play basketball was really a players only real option. Yes, there was the Continental Basketball Association that ultimately gave way to the NBA Development League, but the money was not good and the chances of moving into “the Association” were slim to none.
Now that players are being drafted after just one year of college basketball experience, the need to have player development teams similar to the system baseball uses has become a necessity. Rather than losing control of players to teams in Europe and Asia, NBA teams are establishing a true player development system of their own.
There are currently 22 “D-League” teams and the league will expand to 25 teams next season. It will not be long before every NBA team owns a D-League team of its own. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expands each teams roster from 15 to 17 players next season. There are special pay provisions for players 16 and 17 on the roster depending on whether they on a the team’s D-League roster or NBA roster. A D-League team could have up to five NBA contract players on its roster beginning next year.
The sleepy, little D-League is now a thing of the past. The D-League (which next season will become the NBA Gatorade League) is about to become the most important player development tool the NBA has in its arsenal.
The game on Friday night featured the Reno Bighorns (owned& operated by the Kings) and the Raptors 905 (owned& operated by the Toronto Raptors).
This was my first time to see an NBA D-League game in person
I was interested in seeing several things in this particular game:
- I was curious to see the level of play and where it fits between college and the NBA game
- This game also offered a chance to see center Georgios Papagiannis play extended minutes that he does not get with the Kings
- This match up also provided the chance to see one of the best teams in the D-League. Raptors 905 came into the game with the best winning percentage in the league
By halftime I had some answers
- The level of play was obviously not NBA-like but it was also a real cut above Division-I basketball. The pace was fast and furious plus they love to shoot the ball from beyond the 3-point arc
- Papagiannis was very interesting to watch work around basket especially with his soft-touch half-hook shot that can be very effective and almost impossible to stop because of his height and length
- 905 showed why they win so many games by outscoring the Bighorns 36-16 in the second quarter and took a 57-42 lead into the locker room at halftime
Bighorns made it close in the third but could not hold on in the fourth
The Bighorns behind the play of David Stockton (6 pts, 1 ast) and Kendall Marshall (6 pts, 5 ast) outscored 905 26-20 in the third quarter to cut the Raptors lead to 77-68. It appeared that the momentum had swung over to Reno but things changed rapidly in the final period.
Both teams shot 6-for-20 (30-percent) from the floor in the final period. The difference came in 3-point shooting. 905 converted 3-of-8 from long range while the Bighorns hit only 1-0f-6 shots beyond the arc. The Raptors won the quarter 17-13 and the game 94-81.
Raptors 905 now has a record of 30-9 on the season and 6- 0 versus Western Conference teams. The Bighorns are now 13-25 for the season.
- Brady Heslip was the game’s leading scorer with 33 points in 33 minutes on the floor. He hit 8-of-15 shots from beyond the 3-point arc
- Yanick Moreria and Antwaine Wiggins each added 11 points
- 905 hit 12-of-31 (38.7-percent) tries from long-range
- Raptors are now 6-0 this season versus Western Conference teams
- Their road record improves to 15-2
- Former King David Stockton was the leading scorer for Reno with 20 points. He also had three assists and three steals
- Georgios Papagiannis posted 17 points shooting 8-for-19 from the floor. The big man also had six blocked shots in contest
- Kendall Marshall recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 assists
- Isaiah Cousins — who the Kings drafted in the second round — scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Cousins played his college basketball at Oklahoma with Buddy Hield who just joined the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade with New Orleans