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Frequently Asked Questions: NBA Development League

1. What is the NBA Development League?

The NBA Development League, or NBA D-League, is the NBA’s official minor league, preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers and front office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory.

2. When was the NBA Development League established?

The NBA Development League began play during the 2001-02 season and enters its 16th season in 2016-17.

3. How many teams are in the NBA Development League?

There are an all-time high 22 NBA D-League teams heading into the 2016-17 season, each of which is singly affiliated with one NBA team.

They include: Austin Spurs (San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers), Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers), Erie BayHawks (Orlando Magic), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers), Grand Rapids Drive (Detroit Pistons), Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets), Iowa Energy (Memphis Grizzlies), Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets), Los Angeles D-Fenders (Los Angeles Lakers), Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics), Northern Arizona Suns (Phoenix Suns), Oklahoma City Blue (Oklahoma City Thunder), Raptors 905 (Toronto Raptors), Reno Bighorns (Sacramento Kings), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets), Salt Lake City Stars (Utah Jazz), Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State Warriors), Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami Heat), Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks), Westchester Knicks (New York Knicks) and Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls).

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The Atlanta Hawks have purchased a 23rd NBA D-League team that will begin play in College Park, Ga., in the 2019-20 season. The Orlando Magic have also purchased the Erie BayHawks and intend to relocate the team to Lakeland, Fla., beginning in the 2017-18 season.

4. How many games are in an NBA Development League season?

Each D-League teams plays a 50-game schedule.

5. When do the regular season and playoffs begin and end?

The regular season begins in November and runs into April. In April, the playoffs consist of three rounds, all of which follow a best-of-three series format.

6. How can I watch games?

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All 2016-17 NBA D-League games, with the exception of those that are televised nationally, will be streamed live on Facebook Live. Log on to Facebook.com/NBADLeague before tip-off or find the link via the game page on NBADLeague.com.

7. How can I follow the NBA D-League?

The official website of the NBA D-League is NBADLeague.com. You can also download the NBA D-League mobile app for iOs and Android devices. On social media, you can follow the NBA D-League on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat (“nbadleague”).

8. How many NBA Development League players have made it to the NBA?

An all-time high 135 players with NBA D-League experience were on NBA rosters at the start of the 2016-17 regular season, representing 30 percent of the league.

This group includes both players who were assigned from the NBA to the NBA D-League and players who were called up from the NBA D-League to the NBA at some point in their careers.

At least 30 NBA D-League prospects have been called up to the NBA in each of the past five seasons. A record 68 NBA players were assigned to the NBA D-League an all-time high 321 total times in 2015-16.

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9. Who are some of the best NBA players who have played in the NBA Development League?

Top players who have been assigned to the NBA D-League include Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Pistons guard Reggie Jackson and Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson.

Top players who were called up from the NBA D-League include Spurs guard Danny Green, Heat guard Gerald Green, Hornets guard Jeremy Lin and Heat center Hassan Whiteside.

10. What is a Call-Up?

A Call-Up occurs when a player under contract with the NBA D-League is signed by an NBA team to an NBA contract. Over the past three seasons, an average of 39 players have received a Call-Up.

11. What is an assignment?

An assignment occurs when an NBA team sends a player to its NBA D-League affiliate. That player remains under NBA contract and the assigning NBA team has the exclusive rights to recall that player at any time.

Over the past three seasons, an average of 62 NBA players have been assigned to the NBA D-League an average total of 234 times (players with under three years of service can be assigned an unlimited number of times each season).

12. How many teams make the playoffs?

The playoff rules have changed as the league has expanded. In 2016, eight teams made the playoffs – four in each conference. This included the winners of each of the four divisions and two Wild Card teams in each conference – the top two teams in each conference on the basis of regular season record regardless of division.

13. Is there an NBA Development League All-Star Game?

Yes, the NBA D-League All-Star Game has been part of NBA All-Star Weekend since 2007. The league also puts on its own three-point and slam dunk contests. This year’s All-Star events will be held on Saturday, February 18 in New Orleans.

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14. How are All-Stars selected?

The All-Stars are selected by a vote of all of the league’s head coaches. Players are eligible for All-Star voting if they play in at least half of their team’s games through a predetermined date in late January. Players must be on an active NBA D-League roster at the time of the All-Star Game in order to compete and the league replaces any ineligible players.

15. Who coaches the All-Star teams?

The two spots go to the head coaches of the teams with the best record in each conference at the completion of All-Star voting in late January.

16. When is the NBA Development League Draft?

The NBA D-League Draft is typically held in the last week of October or the first week of November. This occurs after NBA start-of-season rosters are finalized.

17. Who is eligible to be drafted?

The league signs about 180 players each year to join the pool of draft-eligible prospects. They include college players who went undrafted in the NBA Draft, international prospects, and players who were recently waived by NBA teams following training camp. Players must be 18 years old to be eligible for the NBA D-League Draft, as opposed to the NBA’s age minimum of 19.

18. How many players are on an NBA Development League roster?

There are a minimum of 10 players on rosters, with two additional spots for players placed on the inactive/injury list. A team’s active roster may expand to up to 13 players if its parent club assigns players from the NBA roster.

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19. How do NBA Development League contracts work?

NBA D-League players sign standard one-year contracts with the league, not individual teams, according to three different salary scales. (This excludes players on assignment from the NBA, who remain under NBA contract.)

20. Where do NBA Development League players come from?

There are eight different paths a player can take to the NBA D-League:

  • NBA teams can assign players to their NBA D-League affiliate and recall them at any time.
  • NBA teams can draft players and sign them to NBA D-League contracts, thus retaining their rights through the “Draft Rights Player” rule.
  • NBA teams can designate up to four players that they cut during training camp as “affiliate players,” meaning those players will join that team’s NBA D-League affiliate (should the players choose to sign into the NBA D-League). These players are signed under contract with the league rather than the team, however, meaning they are technically free agents who can be called up to any of the 30 NBA teams.
  • NBA D-League teams hold local tryouts each offseason and can invite up to five players from these tryouts to their training camps.
  • The NBA D-League holds a draft every year consisting of nearly 200 players who have signed contracts with the league. In 2016, the draft consisted of six rounds.
  • Players who return to the NBA D-League are, by rule, re-acquired by the teams that they played for within the last two seasons (Returning Players).
  • Once the NBA D-League season begins, players who sign NBA D-League contracts are placed into a rotating waiver pool so that teams can claim them.
  • If a player from high school, college or overseas enters the NBA D-League without ever having declared for the NBA Draft, he will also join the waiver pool. That player remains NBA Draft-eligible but is not eligible to be called up to the NBA.

When a new franchise joins the league, an expansion draft is held in which the new team selects 16 players from a pool of unprotected players among the league’s other teams. The expansion team will then hold that player’s NBA D-League rights for two seasons. Each returning team can protect up to 12 of its players from being selected.

21. How long are the quarters in an NBA Development League game?

Like in the NBA, each quarter lasts 12 minutes. Overtime periods are three minutes compared to the NBA’s five minutes.

22. How long is the shot clock?

Like in the NBA, the shot clock lasts 24 seconds.

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23. What are the measurements of the court and equipment?

The rims hang 10 feet from the floor, sitting on opposite ends of a court that’s 50 feet wide and 94 feet long.

Both ends of the floor feature a free throw line, 15 feet from the rim, and a 3-point arc that runs from 23 feet, 9 inches from the basket at the top of the perimeter to 22 feet at the baselines. The corner 3-pointer has become one of the league’s most popular shots because of the difference.

The basketball itself has a circumference within a maximum of 29 inches and a minimum of 28.5 inches and has a pressure between 7.5 and 8.6 pounds.

24. Are any of the rules in NBA Development League games different from the rules in NBA games?

Yes. The NBA uses the NBA Development League as a testing ground for new rules each season.

During the 2016-17 season, the following rules are in place in NBA D-League games:

  • “Reset Timeouts: Each team will be entitled to a “Reset Timeout” in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and final two minutes of any overtime period.  “Reset Timeouts” do not allow teams to huddle, but otherwise mirror standard timeouts, allowing teams to advance the ball (when applicable) and make unlimited substitutions.  If either team huddles or prevents the ball from immediately being put back into play, it will result in a delay of game being issued to the offending team.  The “Reset Timeout” replaces the “Advance Rule” which had been used in the NBA D-League the past two seasons.
  • Shot clock reset: he 24-second clock will reset to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound or when the offensive team otherwise is the first team to retain possession after the ball contacts the rim.
  • Replay review limit: A 75-second limit on the duration of instant replay reviews has been implemented, except in circumstances where the review is for a hostile act or altercation, could lead to an ejection, there is a technical equipment problem or other atypical circumstances.
  • The coach’s challenge: The coach’s challenge rule allows coaches to challenge either called personal fouls charged to their own team or any play that is currently an NBA D-League replay trigger, other than flopping, and has been amended to permit only one challenge per team in the fourth quarter and each overtime period. To initiate a challenge, a coach must call a legal timeout and immediately indicate to the officials that an event is being challenged.  If the challenge is successful and the event is changed, the team will retain its timeout.  The challenging team will be charged with the timeout if the challenge is unsuccessful and the call is unchanged.
  • The away-from-the-play foul rule (also known as the rule that attempts to combat “Hack-a-Shaq”): An away-from-the-play foul is defined as any illegal contact by the defense which occurs either deliberately away from the immediate area of offensive action, prior to the ball being released on a throw-in, or both. If an away-from-the-play foul is committed at any point in the game, personal and team fouls will be assessed and one free throw attempt will be awarded to any player in the game at the time the personal foul was committed.
  • Team foul limits will be increased from four per period to five per period before free throws are rewarded.
  • Timeouts: Additional rules changes allow for teams to be allotted four full (two-minute) timeouts and three 30-second timeouts during regulation game play.  A maximum of two 30-second timeouts, in addition to an “advance,” will be permitted during the final two minutes of regulation.  Only the offensive team can call the second of consecutive timeouts, except in instances of injury, infection control and following an “advance.”

25. Where can I buy tickets to an NBA Development League game?

Tickets for every team are available on each team’s website. Go to dleague.nba.com/tickets for more information.

26. Has an NBA Development League player ever been drafted into the NBA?

Six players have been drafted into the NBA out of the NBA D-League. These players entered the NBA D-League either out of high school – the league’s age minimum is 18 rather than the NBA’s 19 – or as early entry college players.

They include: Mike Taylor (2008), Latavious Williams (2009), Chu Chu Maduabum (2011), Glen Rice Jr. (2013), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (2014, pictured) and P.J. Hairston (2014). In 2014, Hairston became the first first-round NBA Draft pick the NBA D-League has ever produced, and Antetokounmpo became the first international prospect ever to be drafted out of the NBA D-League.

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27. What do affiliations between NBA and NBA Development Leagues entail?

There are two types of affiliations: one-to-one affiliation, in which the NBA team fully owns and operates its NBA D-League team; and “hybrid” affiliation, in which the NBA team manages and funds the basketball operations while local ownership maintains control of the business and community relations aspects of the team.

Currently, 15 NBA teams fully own and operate their NBA D-League affiliates: the Bulls, Cavaliers, Hornets, Jazz, KingsKnicks, Lakers, Nets, PacersRaptors, Sixers, Spurs, Suns, Thunder and Warriors. Six teams have hybrid affiliations with their NBA D-League affiliates: the Celtics, Grizzlies, Heat, Magic, Pistons and Rockets. The Mavericks and Texas Legends also have a one-to-one affiliation.

The Magic have purchased the Erie BayHawks and intend to relocate the team to Lakeland, Fla., beginning in the 2017-18 season. The Hawks have purchased an NBA D-League affiliate that will begin play in College Park, Ga., in the 2019-20 season.

NBA teams primarily use their NBA D-League affiliates as a place to develop their young talent. Players with three years of service or less can be sent, or “assigned,” to the NBA D-League an unlimited number of times. The NBA team retains an assigned player’s rights and can recall that player at any time.

NBA teams often install the same offensive and defensive systems – including the same terminology and even some of the same plays – on their NBA D-League affiliates. The staffs within the organization are in constant communication about the development of their major- and minor-league talent.

28. How do NBA franchises not affiliated with an NBA D-League team assign players?

The NBA D-League’s flexible assignment system which was instituted prior to the 2014-15 season  enables independent NBA teams to assign players to the NBA D-League for development or rehabilitation from injury.

Upon receipt of an assignment from an independent NBA team, the NBA D-League will identify any NBA D-League team willing to accept the assigned player. The assigning independent NBA team will then choose the destination for assignment between those teams.  If no NBA D-League team is willing to accept the assigned player, he will be assigned to one of the hybrid affiliate teams pursuant to a lottery.

29. What is the NBA Development League Showcase?

NBA D-League Showcase is the NBA D-League’s annual in-season scouting event, when all of its teams converge in one city to play in front of NBA general managers and player personnel executives from all 30 NBA teams. The 2017 event — Jan. 18-22 in Mississauga, Ontario — will mark the 13th NBA D-League Showcase.

Showcase traditionally coincides with the time when NBA teams can begin signing players to 10-day contracts, since the majority of the players signed to 10-day contracts are GATORADE Call-Ups from the NBA D-League.

30. How do 10-day NBA contracts work?

Each season, from early January to early April, NBA teams can sign free agents to 10-day contracts. A player can be signed to a maximum of two consecutive 10-day contracts before a team must either sign him for the remainder of the season or release him.

31. Which teams have won the most NBA Development League titles?

The Asheville Altitude, Colorado 14ers and Rio Grande Valley Vipers are each tied for the most titles won with two. (Only the Vipers are still an active franchise.)

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32. Who is the NBA Development League’s all-time leading scorer?

Renaldo Major, an eight-year veteran of the Dakota Wizards (now the Santa Cruz Warriors) and Bakersfield Jam, is the league’s all-time leading scorer with 4,653 points through the 2014-15 season. He passed Fort Wayne Mad Ants veteran Ron Howard (4,324 points) in December after Howard had passed Major during the 2013-14 season.

33. How can I try out for the NBA Development League?

The league holds a National Tryout once each year. Participants must fill out an application and make a $350 online payment. The event is limited to 220 players, and between 25 and 40 typically sign contracts and become eligible for the NBA D-League Draft.

Two players from the NBA D-League National Tryout have gone on to reach the NBA: Dennis Horner (Nets) and Dwight Buycks (Raptors, Lakers).

Additionally, each NBA D-League team holds its own local tryout(s) prior to the start of the season and can invite up to five of the participants to its preseason training camp.