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Midseason D-League Assignment Trends

The Celtics have been busy shaking up their roster this season, pulling off five trades in the space of less than a month. They’ve also made more frequent use of D-League assignments than any other NBA team this year, sending players to their affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, a league-high 15 times. James Young, the 17th overall pick in 2014, has gone back and forth to Maine eight times.

Roughly midway through the NBA season, a few key trends are developing that show how NBA teams are taking advantage, or in some cases, not taking advantage, of their ability to send players on their NBA rosters to the D-League. NBA front offices have varying opinions on just how effective D-League assignments are for player development. The sort of players an NBA team has on its roster and what the team wants to accomplish in a season also play significantly into the frequency of assignments.

Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors maintains our log of D-League recalls and assignments. Here are a few points we can glean from the data therein:

Most D-League assignments, team

  • Celtics, 15
  • Thunder, 11
  • Grizzlies, 9
  • Hawks, 9
  • Mavericks, 9

Most D-League assignments, player

Players who’ve been on D-League assignments from two different NBA teams

— The Celtics assigned Andre Dawkins to the D-League immediately upon signing him to a 10-day contract.

Longest D-League assignment

— The Wizards kept Rice on D-League assignment for most of the season, a stint that didn’t end until the day the team waived him.

Players assigned to D-League affiliate of another NBA team

— The NBA and the D-League set up a process this year by which the 13 NBA partners of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the only remaining D-League club without a one-to-one NBA affiliation, may assign players to another NBA team’s affiliate if the Mad Ants have a full roster.

Teams that haven’t assigned a player to the D-League

  • Bucks
  • Bulls
  • Knicks
  • Pacers
  • Timberwolves
  • Trail Blazers

— Not surprisingly, five out of the six teams here are without one-to-one D-League affiliates. The only one that has its own affiliate among those on the list is the Knicks.

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