USA Basketball announced it’s World Cup Qualification Committee. This committee will be responsible for choosing the players for Team USA’s 2017-20 World Cup roster. Players will come primarily from the NBA D-League which will be a win for the NBA’s minor league. The committee members will be
- Sean Ford – Director (non-voting chair of the committee)
- Tony Bollier – NBA D-League Player Personnel and Coach Relations Manager;
- Trajan Langdon – NBA D-League Long Island Nets general manager and NBA Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager;
- Adam Simon – NBA D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce general manager and NBA Miami Heat assistant general manager;
- Gersson Rosas – Houston Rockets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations
D-League players playing for USA basketball adds another chip to the NBA’s minor league making it even more attractive. Slowly but surely you’re seeing NBA teams use the D-League as a viable developmental league. Currently, there are 22 teams with plans to grow to 25 by the ’17-’18 season. As the popularity of the league has grown, so has the opportunities for the players.
USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said:
“This will be an excellent opportunity for NBA D-League players to showcase their talent and experience meaningful and important international competition while representing the United States.”
After going through a disappointing stretch, USA Basketball turned to Jerry Colangelo to turn the ship around. Colangelo implemented a system where players were chosen with an emphasis on building a roster as opposed to simply choosing an all-star team. The move to using NBA D-League players comes as Colangelo retires from USA basketball at, what could be argued as, it’s strongest period in program history considering the growth of International competition.
The responsibility of choosing the roster will come with a lot of pressure. International competition continues to get more and more competitive proving the NBA’s global reach is as strong as ever. This is why it’s a perfect time for USA Basketball to make this move and the NBA will benefit. As the NBA D-League has focused on player development, the quality of the games have gotten better.
Dime Magazine’s Oliver Maroney recently said about the D-League:
“The league has had so much success this season and more fans are coming to realize that their respective teams’ are utilizing D-League alumni.”
The NBA could see a rise in the viewership of the NBA D-League like they’ve seen with the NBA Summer League. As the NBA markets and grows the D-League, fans feel invested in the players whether they end up with the parent club or the team’s D-League.
“The D-League allows viewers to get a first-look at specific players and what they could be at the next-level. This is only going to get bigger and quite frankly, I’m excited for it.” said Maroney.
The D-League could also serve as a viable landing place for players who left school early but either didn’t make the roster or didn’t get drafted. The question of kids not wanting to stay in college for four years is still a point of contention for some fans. Even though the thinking of “the longer you stay in college the more NBA ready you’ll be” is antiquated and frequently factually off-base, the D-League could grow stronger from talented early entries who don’t want to be in college for more than a year or two.
If the NBA increases salaries and shows the basketball community that it is a viable path to the league, you could see more college kids leave college knowing that they’ll start in the D-League no different than a baseball player knowing he’s leaving college and starting in the minor leagues. Maroney is spot on when he says:
“I think college players will have some extremely difficult decisions to make. You can clearly see the upward mobility that the D-League is providing to players, it’s not a fluke.”
This is why the timing of the announcement is perfect for all involved. It will help with the growth of the D-League. College players who are looking to leave school, for whatever reason, will see the league as a credible alternative to staying in school. Fans will get to see high level basketball that will end up in the NBA at a higher quality of play than watching college basketball. This is a natural evolution for the time we’re living in and will be an incredible boost to the league.
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook