Yesterday was draft day for the NBA Development League, with a total of 290 players eligible for selection in the league's draft. The draft, which took place via teleconference, had five mandatory rounds with three additional rounds that teams could optionally make selections in. Of the 19 teams in the draft, only seven teams made sixth round picks, four made seventh round picks and there were zero eighth round picks.
Anyway, the draft ended up with six different former Big Ten players being selected, with a pair of Ohio State Buckeyes going back-to-back early in the first round.
|1||6||Amir Williams||Rio Grande Valley||Ohio State|
|1||7||Sam Thompson||Grand Rapids||Ohio State|
|3||14||Russell Byrd||Sioux Falls||Michigan State|
|3||18||Verdell Jones||Santa Cruz||Indiana|
It should be noted that while only six players were selected in the draft, a good chunk of the league is built around players signed or assigned, with less of a focus on the draft. For example, a lot of former Big Ten players (and players in general) that were on training camp rosters this fall ended up getting cut prior to opening day before ending up with the teams respective D-League affiliate.
While a lot of casual fans don't pay much attention to the D-League, there are usually a number of players currently in the NBA that spent time honing their skills in the D-League before making their way up. I mentioned it the other day, but look no further than Tim Frazier using a strong season to help secure a NBA roster spot. With more and more NBA teams having affiliations with D-League teams, there has also been a rise in teams using the league as a way to get players playing time instead of eating up DNPs or being inactive most nights.
A decent number of the players in the D-League are likely fringe NBA players at best, but there are diamonds in the rough and it's also a way for fans to watch their favorite college players play professional basketball domestically instead of trying to track them play overseas, usually somewhere in Europe.