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D-League 101: A Primer for Fans

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The New York Knicks have expanded the NBA Development League into White Plains, N.Y., taking a step forward in their ability to take advantage of this valuable resource. The new team will replace the Erie Bayhawks as the Knicks' one-to-one D-League affiliate. During the course of its 50-game regular-season, New York will have the option of grooming young talent, sending players to rehab from injury, and also utilizing the league as a testing ground for strategies and innovations that could have a major impact in the NBA.

Founded in 2001, the NBA D-League has grown into professional basketball’s primary feeder of talent to its highest level. At the start of the 2013-14 season, 103 players in the NBA (24 percent) boasted D-League experience, and the league continues to develop talented coaches, referees and front-office staff for the NBA and its teams.

This year’s Knicks feature two players who have used time in the D-League to prepare them for NBA opportunities. As playing time opened up, both Toure’ Murry (D-League championship winner on last season’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers) and Jeremy Tyler (who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game with Erie before this year's call-up) have been able to provide valuable contributions to the Knicks' NBA rotation.

Players in similar positions next year will be able to take advantage of unique D-League opportunities in hopes of making it to the NBA. Through events such as the D-League Showcase – a five-day stretch of games during which representatives from all 30 teams gather in one place to scout potential signees – players gain the exposure needed to display the skills they can provide to NBA clubs. During the event’s nine-year history, more than 30 D-League players have earned GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA during or immediately after the Showcase.

The D-League has become an increasingly utilized resource for NBA organizations, and the Knicks are poised to take the next step in this budding partnership, leveraging the close physical distance between parent and affiliate club. Players like Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar have even played in D-League and NBA games on the same day, providing additional playing time for the former first-round pick during the fledgling stages of a now-established career. Of the 180 players selected in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 drafts, 82 (46 percent) have spent time in the D-League.

As it runs concurrently with the NBA season, D-Leaguers have the chance to go to NBA All-Star Weekend and participate in similar events, including their own dunk contest, three-point contest and All-Star Game. When the regular season comes to a close, it’s on to the playoffs, where players and teams gain valuable experience performing under conditions similar to those they’ll experience when they reach the NBA.