D-League, NBA / Apr 7, 2010 / 12:00 pm

The NBA D-League Is Bigger And Better Than Ever

I’ve long been a fan of the NBA D-League, for no other reason than it provides an opportunity for a lot of my favorite college players (not yet ready for the NBA) to keep playing ball. But this year, the D-League has become a vital contributor to the lifeblood of NBA teams – think the ultimate sixth man – as their guys have filled out rosters all season. Just look at Earl Barron‘s second NBA game this season for the Knicks last night where he finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds against the Celtics. In total, there have been an all-time record 34 GATORADE Call-Ups, and there are 80 players currently on NBA rosters with D-League experience.

But other than the play on the court, the reason the D-League has had such a successful year is because it has been their most accessible season to date. In addition to the national broadcast deal they signed with sports cable network VERSUS to air games during the season (including six games during the D-League Playoffs), NBA Futurecast also provides fans with the opportunity to watch every D-League game live online and for free. And for fans in markets with a team, people came out in record numbers, finishing the regular season by exceeding one million (1,043,261) in total attendance for the first time in league history. (I should also note that my Maine Red Claws played to 100 percent capacity during their inaugural season. That’s how we do.)

Perhaps this speaks more to the explosion of social media than the popularity of the league, but the D-League Twitter account also exploded this season, currently featuring 146,613 followers after starting the season with 8,000. And with more and more NBA players spending time in the D-League before making the jump, it would behoove the scout in all of you to pay attention to what’s going on.

So if you haven’t decided to tune in yet, tonight’s as good a time as any as the D-League Playoffs tip off tonight when the Utah Flash host the Iowa Energy at 9pm ET live on NBA Futurecast. Will you be there from the start?

What do you think? Are you a fan of the D-League? Have you tuned in online or gone to a game this season?

Other Must-Read D-League Articles:
Video Highlights Of Hasheem Thabeet Destroying The NBADL
Trey Gilder Makes It Rain (And Snow) In Dallas
The Best Dunk Of All-Star Weekend
D-League Players Blame LeBron For Lack Of NBA Jobs
The D-League Hot Hand List

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  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I’m a junkie but don’t have League Pass. For those long, cold non-Wed/Thurs/Fri nights when there’s no NBA on, I wish that I knew what VS. tv schedule was like!

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    I think the D-League is a good thing but I must admit I don’t watch or attend any of the games.

    I really think that the reason there are so many call ups is that the talent pool in the NBA is lacking. You have the top notch talent which I would only include about 10 players right now. Then you have the second tier players and finally everybody else.

    NBA GM’s have finally realized that you can call up a D-Leaguer and get the same quality minutes from a young, hungry player than you can from a mediocre vet for up to 1/8 of the price.

  • Dan

    Does gatorade sponsor the call ups? how do you sponsor a call up? and how is a timeout also sponsored?

  • srb

    @ Dan

    My local minor league hockey team used to have sponsored trips to the penalty box. Some garbage company (literally, they haul waste) would have their name read every time someone got put in the box.

  • Dan


    Fist LoL, and so I guess you can sponsor just about anything. Crazy . Imagine you are getting taken to the penalty box and the announcer says this trip to the box is sponsored by waste management……..seriously? Time for these companies to take a Steak and Shake timeout(miami heat sponsors for their TO). I guess its creative.

  • http://www.innoutnba.com Lucas Shapiro

    I’ve watched a few D-League games and I was impressed. They are all great players, just some need some work to be true pros.

    A few years ago I said the D-League would be big, just wait til’ a star-caliber player comes out from there…

  • sh!tfaced

    And the number pick for the NBADL draft is… Scheyer, Zoubek or any of those white boys from Duke… LOL