The NBA D-League is now being utilized more and more by teams to get their young players playing time. In the past, we have seen guys such as Mike Muscala and Dennis Schroder make stints with various teams. This season it has been Edy Tavares and Tim Hardaway Jr. accumulating various assignments.
Because the team does not have their own one-on-one affiliate with a team, the team has to send their players to teams of other parent clubs. This benefits the players because they get playing time when they have fallen out of favor in the rotation, but they are not coached the same. With the Hawks running an advanced system like Coach Bud’s and their heavy emphasis on player development, it’s a no-brainer for them to start their own affiliate team. Three more teams have been added in 2015, and before you know it probably every team will have one.
We have seen how Jonathon Simmons has rised from the D-League and has played a nice role on the San Antonio Spurs this season, a team that is a title contender. Having a D-League team would allow players such as Tim Hardaway Jr., who is likely having trouble adjusting to the system, play within that system while letting the game slow down some and letting players get their feet wet.
Edy Tavares is practically rotting on our bench, because the team likely signed him from overseas a season too early. The team was afraid European teams would throw multi-year deals at him and they would lose out on their investment. If we had our own D-League affiliate, Tavares would be able to develop his game stateside.
Luckily, the team has already taken steps towards making this a reality. According to AJC.com’s Chris Vivlamore, earlier in the year, the team hired Andrew Steinberg to a new title of EVP and Chief Business Officer. His job description? According to Vivlamore it entails “a new practice facility, reimaging of Philips Arena and pursuing an NBA Development League franchise as a Hawks affiliate.”
Looks like we’re not too far away, and it will be an interesting situation to monitor. Could the team acquire an affiliate of their own this offseason? It sure will make things a lot easier for the Hawks given their stockpiling of draft-and-stash players in recent seasons.