Earlier this week the NBA announced that the Miami Heat will once again be affiliated with the NBDL (NBA D-League). The Heat, along with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic, will be connected with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. This will be the 7th straight year that each NBA team has a D-League team to assign their younger guys to play for. Also, there will be 9 NBA teams that have single affiliates (non-shared teams) which is an all time high, well above last seasons number of 4.
Last season saw several all-time highs for the NBDL. There was more NBA player assignments (56), individual players assigned (39) and NBA teams assigning a player (25) then ever before. Last year also saw every single D-League team at one point or another have an NBA player assigned to their squad. There are many people who think that this has been a long time coming, as other long-season sports have a minor league system where they can call up and send down players, so why not the NBA?
If you remember, last season Miami sent their former draft pick center Dexter Pittman down there on two separate occasions. Pittman did quite well in Sioux Falls, averaging 14.5 points on 53.6% shooting while grabbing 8.2 rebounds and blocking 1.7 shots per game. He was actually selected to the NBDL All-Star game though he couldn't play due to injury. He was called up to the NBA by the Heat in late December and played his first game on April 1st.
The D-League will have a total of 16 teams, with each one connected to one or more NBA teams. The last few years the NBDL has been a great place for young players to work on their game and prepare for the greater challenge that lies in the NBA. At the end of last season, 23% of players on NBA rosters have spent some time in the D-League. It's a mutually beneficial deal for the leagues to be associated with one another.