From late September to late October, NBA teams trim their rosters from a maximum of 20 players invited to training camp to 15 on opening night. The “affiliate player rule” allows them to retain up to four of the players that they waive.
Players designated by an NBA team as affiliate players are automatically allocated to that team’s NBA Development League affiliate if they choose to sign an NBA D-League contract.
Unlike in baseball, affiliate players remain free agents available for any of the 30 NBA teams to sign. Still, the designation is a vote of confidence for prospects. It’s an indication of which players NBA teams are interested in developing, allowing front offices to closely monitor certain players on and off the court, keep them within the same offensive and defensive systems using the same terminology and many of the same plays, and work on their skills with their own coaches.
During the 2014-15 season, a record 48 NBA D-League prospects earned GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA. Ten of those prospects were affiliate players called up to the team they were with during training camp:
Sim Bhullar (Reno Bighorns/Sacramento Kings), Jabari Brown (Los Angeles D-Fenders/Los Angeles Lakers), Jack Cooley (Idaho Stampede/Utah Jazz), Langston Galloway (Westchester Knicks/New York Knicks), Drew Gordon (Delaware 87ers/Philadelphia 76ers), Tyler Johnson (Sioux Falls Skyforce/Miami Heat), Malcolm Lee (Delaware 87ers/Philadelphia 76ers), James Michael McAdoo (Santa Cruz Warriors/Golden State Warriors), Ronald Roberts (Delaware 87ers/Philadelphia 76ers) and David Wear (Reno Bighorns/Sacramento Kings).