TrueHoop Network blogger Matt Hubert of DLeagueDigest.com has compiled a great look at all the 30 NBA teams and their usage of the D-league.
Matt used a grading system that I’ll let him explain here:
I wanted this to be a comprehensive effort, so rather than just offering my take on the teams, I reached out to the excellent bloggers of the TrueHoop Network, asking each team blogger to grade their team’s usage of the D-League (25 of them complied by giving a grade). I also got grades of all 30 teams from Matt Moore, who covers the D-League for AOL Fanhouse, and a combined grade from Scott Schroeder and Jon L. of Ridiculous Upside.
Bloggers were asked to consider quantity and quality of each team’s assignments and call-ups, ownership and communication with the D-League affiliate, and any other factors that contribute to effective usage of the D-League. For each team, I took the THN blogger’s grade, Matt Moore’s grade, RU’s grade, and my grade, and found the average to calculate a final GPA. For the purposes of these posts, the grading scale breaks down as follows:
So how did the Clippers grade out? Unfortunately, not well. In Matt’s final compilation post, the Clippers ranked 24th overall. In an earlier post, Matt and I explain why the Clippers received the low marks:
Los Angeles Clippers: 0.83 GPA
High Grade: D+ (RU)
Low Grade: D- (MH, THN)
Players Assigned: 0
Players Called Up: 10 (1 in last two years)
THN’s Take: (by D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog): The Clippers have used the D-League sparingly, opting instead to fill out the end of their bench with veterans on their last legs. JamesOn Curry getting called up last year was the first guy I can remember getting called up in quite some time, and fittingly enough he played less than a minute last year in his lone appearance. While they’ve been notorious in the past for not stashing players overseas (Big Sofo—Sofoklis Schortsanitis—in ’03 being the lone exception), they’ve been just as bad not using the D-League or calling guys up on 10-day contracts, even in lost seasons with nothing to lose.
Times might be changing though—the Clips signed undrafted rookie Marqus Blakely before another team could get their hands on him once he showed off in the D-League. For that reason, they get a D-, even though their past usage of the D-League is probably deserving of a worse grade.
Final Assessment (Matt Hubert): With the Lakers as the top ticket in town, it would make sense for the Clippers to try to shake things up a little and invest in the D-League. But owner Donald Sterling is notorious for not wanting to spend, and that reputation seems to carry over into the franchise’s feelings toward the D-League as well.
The Clippers have never assigned a player to the D-League, shocking for a team that is routinely restocking with draft picks. And their lone call-up last season lasted about as long as this sentence. They’ve had just one winning season since 1992, and their usage of the D-League suggests that they’re way behind in terms of utilizing it as a tool to help them get better in the future.
The Clippers reluctance in the past to use the D-League isn’t the end of the world, but it should be noted that some nice talents have emerged from that league. The Clippers don’t need to look much further than their own division to find a team who effectively utilizes the D-League.
The Golden State Warriors just last year found scoring machine Reggie Williams, who scored 15 points a game on nearly 50 percent shooting from the field last season in 24 games, as well as Anthony Tolliver, a nice pick and pop big man who scored a contract with Minnesota. When the Warriors were decimated with injuries, they gave time to guys who shined in the D-League and in the process found a couple of nice pieces for their rotation.
It’s not surprising that most of the other teams who finished in the top of the rankings are perennial playoff teams and smartly ran franchises. Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Utah all use the D-League extremely well, so it’s hard not to make at least some correlation.
Neil Olshey has navigated the offseason exceptionally well in his first year in the big chair, but the signing of Brian Cook raised a few eyebrows around the league. Cook received a contract that included a player option on his second year, even when it seemed there was no real market for his services. If Cook is right mentally and physically, he brings a unique skill set to the table, but one has to wonder if there weren’t younger players with significantly less baggage available in the D-League who could do the same things.
The point here isn’t Cook, whose contract for the veteran minimum won’t make a dent in any of the future plans. He’ll occupy a roster spot and play rarely barring injuries. The point is that the Clippers can continue awarding contracts to players on their way out of the league, or instead they can take some chances on young guys busting their butts to get in to it.