The Development League is the NBA’s official minor league basketball organization. When NBA team officials think that certain players are not ready for the big time, they often send them down to the D-League, which allows them to get the minutes and experience they need to hone their skills to the level of the big stage.
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Since the end of the 2015-16 season, 38 percent of the players on NBA rosters had played in the D-League. STACK compiled a list of five D-League alumni who are having breakout seasons in the NBA this year.
1. Clint Capela
Houston Rockets center Clint Capela was selected 25th in the 2014 NBA draft. The Switzerland native was not ready for the NBA, so the Rockets sent him down to their minor league affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. In 38 games, Capela nearly averaged a double-double with 16 points and 9.7 rebounds.
After his second year of being called up to the NBA, the 22-year-old is playing 23 minutes a game and averaging 12 points, seven rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He missed a good chunk of the season due to a leg injury, but has since bounced back to become a big part of the team’s alley-oop offense.
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2. Tyler Johnson
Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson went undrafted in 2014. After being picked up by the Heat, the 6-foot-4 combo guard was sent down to the team’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he played in 15 games and averaged 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and one steal per game.
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In his first two seasons, Johnson did spend some time with the Heat, playing in 32 games and 35 games, respectively. But this season, he has played 56 games, averaging 30 minutes per night. Johnson averages 13.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Though he has yet to start a game this year, he has contributed to the team’s impressive mid-season turnaround.
3. Yogi Ferrell
Dallas Mavericks point guard Yogi Ferrell has been on the move his rookie year. Undrafted out of Indiana University, Ferrell was picked up by the Brooklyn Nets. Ferrell played 10 games with the team, but he also played 18 games for the Nets’ D-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets. The 6-foot, 180-pound guard averaged 18.7 points, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
After dominating the D-League, Ferrell was picked up by the Mavericks and he hasn’t looked back since. In a four-game span starting for the Mavericks, Ferrell shot 44.4 percent from the field and 52.3 percent from long range. He averaged 17.8 points and five assists and earned a two-year deal with the Mavs. Now Ferrell has played in 17 games with the team, and in 32 minutes a night he averages 12.4 points, 5.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
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4. Jamychal Green
Memphis Grizzlies power forward Jamychal Green went undrafted in 2012, then signed with the San Antonio Spurs’ D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros. The 6-foot-9 26-year-old spent a good amount of time with the minor league team. He played 40 games during the 2012-2013 season and 20 games the season after that. After he averaged 23 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1 steal a game, the Grizzlies decided to give him a chance.
In just his second year with the Grizzlies, Green has earned a starting slot, and he leads the team in field goal percentage (49%). He gets 28 minutes a night and averages nine points and seven rebounds.
5. Seth Curry
Dallas Mavericks point guard Seth Curry is another player who has spent a lot of time in the D-League. After bouncing around the league on 10-day contracts during the 2012-2013 season, he spent most of his time with the Santa Cruz Warriors. He then went to the Erie BayHawks, where he averaged 23.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 43 games.
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After getting quality playing time with the Sacramento Kings last season, Seth was picked up by the Mavs, where he has been balling ever since. The 26-year-old gets 29 minutes a night and averages 12.9 points, 1.2 steals, 2.8 assists, and is shooting an incredible 43 percent from deep.
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