Strictly on the DL
Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a basketball minor league. As
A lot of this hinges on whether or not NBDL teams are explicitly affiliated with pro franchises, something I probably should know but don't. If not, does this mean that NBDL teams get in petty bidding wars over who gets to supplement some high schoolers gigantic lottery contract?
My sense is that, at first, teams will be reluctant to make use of this new option. But as soon as some raw player spends one year there and then turns up as ROY the following season, it will become more and more common for anyone who isn't clearly capable of holding their own in the Association. Telfair and Josh or J.R. Smith would probably never end up there, even though they've got a lot of growing to do still. But Chandler, Curry, or Kwame have NBDL written all over them. Someone like Al Jefferson or Travis Outlaw, who weren't totally lost but, because of position issues and their teams wanting to win now, could probably have stood to spend year one putting a little more polish on their game.
Though introducing this and the age limit seems a little redundant. A year of college for any of the aforementioned players and they'd probably be starting for the wrecks of teams that drafted them. It will probably be used most with good teams who take a chance late on "project" picks, and who can't afford to have them develop as their franchise is trying to win now.
One point of clarification on the age limit: it's a year after your high school graduation that you become eligible for the draft. I suspect it's only a strict calendar thing for international players, or high school drop-outs (something we'll see from time to time and people try to get into the league sooner rather than later?)
UPDATE: Okay, this is huge and possibly totally moronic. Just read over Chad Ford's take on the CBA (I'm sure you can find it without a link); turns out that the NBDL minimum age is now eighteen. Meaning, players could opt to skip college and go directly to the NBDL. Of course, they'd be getting paid next to nothing, and they'd have no clear connection to any NBA team (how does this work: NBDL teams are sort of connected with pro franchises, but can harbor fugitives from the league?). So there's now the alternative of bypassing college for a year of NBDL, where at least there's some money involved. Not as attractive as trying to win an NCAA title in your spare time, but for second-tier prospects and over-eager high schoolers, it might become common practice.
Bottom line is, things just got a lot more complicated for all the non-lottery players in this world. We'll get to see Oden, Mayo, etc. in college, but this might result in preps with less certain futures facing something far less dire than the current "first round or bust" scenario.
And, weirdest of all, this new NBDL system will be in place next season, so this current crop of high school hopefuls are no longer as much of a risk as they were a few days ago. For one brief, spiritual year, eighteen year-olds are both eligible for the draft and pose less risk than ever to teams who didn't want to waste a roster spot on them. Maybe that's what Miles, Ellis, Williams, et al. were hearing that lead them to keep their names in.