It’s no secret that Mark Cuban said he feels that the NBA Development League (commonly referred to as the D-League) better prepares aspiring professional basketball players than college, especially with the current “1-and-done” trend.
Much to my dismay, Cuban may have a point. Look at baseball.
There are 30 Major League Baseball teams, all of which have an average of 8 minor league teams at multiple levels, with the quality of play improving greatly from level to level. Now, basketball doesn’t need 8 minor league teams, however a true farm system could benefit the league greatly.
Baseball uses the minor leagues to strengthen players and increase speed, fielding ability and hitting of hopeful players for the majors. Isn’t that the primary complaint of the “1-and-done”?
The other baseball aspect that basketball should adopt is college. Baseball allows athletes to go into the draft straight out of high school without hiring an agent. If they are not drafted or opt to attend college instead, they are bound to college for 3 years. This could do basketball some good.
Look back at Nerlens Noel in the 2013 NBA Draft. Noel tore his ACL in a game at Florida while playing for Kentucky in February and still opted to go to the draft.
He was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans with the 6th overall pick and immediately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Around the start of the NBA season the 76ers organization announced that Noel would not play in the 2013-14 season (at which point I was left with no choice but to drop Noel from my fantasy team).
Think if he would’ve stayed at Kentucky to rehab his knee. Kentucky would likely have won the National Championship (they only lost to UConn by 6) and could have had an easier draw in the tournament.
With only 20 of the NBA’s 30 teams having an affiliate in the D-League, combined with the structure of the D-League, the idea that the NBA presents with their whole “Minor League Basketball” concept is a joke.
However, I think it goes without saying that if NBA franchises would utilize a D-League team as a true minor league team, the D-League’s ticket sales would increase, the quality of play in the NBA would get better and more competitive, and teams could benefit faster from drafting international players who are “2 years away”.
Much to my dismay, Mark Cuban said something I’ve been thinking for a while. Hopefully, with Adam Silver in office, the NBA can quickly expand the D-League and begin playing true Minor League Basketball.