Adding a Single Affiliation D-League Team is Part of the Plan for Hornets

Published: July 9, 2011

In an interview at the Green Project (where the Hornets were helping out on Friday), President Hugh Weber responded to my questions about the team’s new D-League franchise in Iowa. Asked about the possibility of adding a more local Developmental League team, Weber said that it’s “part of our long term plan… to have a single affiliation D-League team in Louisiana.”

“If we send a player down (to a shared team)”, Hugh Weber explained, “there’s no advantage.”

He’s right. Without your coaches and your system in place, a D-League team is a less than great destination for NBA teams to send their players. For the most part, teams would rather just have complete control and oversight over a player’s development by keeping them with the NBA team, even if it means that the player doesn’t get the game experience that often can make or break a borderline NBA player.

In years past, the Hornets have appeared to have for the most part ignored their shared D-League team. That has changed a bit with Dell Demps under the helm, but they are still not utilizing it as much as other teams do, and they probably won’t really be able to until they get their own.

While the NBA D-League is certainly not on the level of minor league baseball, where nearly ever players sees time in the minor leagues, 23% of NBA players have seen time in the D-League in their careers. That number has been steadily rising for years, as a number of teams are seeing the benefits of getting their young, raw players meaningful minutes instead of having them sit on a bench for a year or two during every competitive game because they aren’t developed enough.

Teams like Cleveland, who just purchased the Hornets previous shared D-League team, the New Mexico Thunderbirds, know that the benefits can extend off the court as well. They are moving the Thunderbirds to Canton, which will now serve as another hub for competitive basketball in the Ohio area.

Hugh acknowledged these potential benefits for the Hornets, saying “it helps build the branding of NBA high level basketball across the state.” He added that having a D-League team somewhere in the state would be “great”.

I guess what I’m wondering now is where would we put a D-League team, and what would they be called?

Anyway, it’s good to know that just because there isn’t basketball going on doesn’t mean that the Hornets have stopped helping out the community. In the next day or two we are going to get up all our videos and other information from the volunteering event.


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