NBA: 36 Players Get Selected In D-League Draft

The NBA D-League keeps on getting bigger and bigger.

The D-League added three more teams for the 2016-17 campaign to give the league a total of 22 franchises, with the addition of Long Island Nets, Greensboro Swarm, and Windy City Bulls. This is the third straight year that the D-League has expanded.

The three new teams began building their rosters on August 24 with the D-League expansion draft. Each of the 19 previous franchise was able to protect 10 players on their roster, and no team could lose more than two players, per the NBA. The three new franchises selected 12 players, and each and every D-League team lost at least one player, except for the Erie Bayhawks, according to D-League Digest. While teams acquired a solid amount of talent through the expansion draft, there is no guarantee these players will be with their respective squads when the season starts on November 11. The reason being, some of the players will get a chance in the NBA and others will find better opportunities overseas.

Long Island, Greensboro, and Windy City will own the rights to all 12 players for two years.

Last year, of the 16 players selected in the expansion draft by the Raptors 905, only Scott Suggs suit upped for the franchise. Suggs, who was named to the 2016 D-League All-Star game, is currently with ICL Manresa of Spain’s Liga ACB.

Long Island, the Brooklyn Nets affiliate, had the No. 1 overall pick and used the selection on Gary Forbes. The 31-year-old, six-foot-seven small forward finished the 2015-16 campaign with the Grand Rapids Drive, averaging 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.3 minutes a contest over three games. He has played in 111 career NBA games with the Denver Nuggets (2010-11) and Toronto Raptors (2011-12).

The Nets also used a pick on former NBA players Carrick Felix, Jamaal Franklin, Peyton Siva, Lazar Haywood, and Alex Kirk. Felix is coming off a knee injury and Franklin already has 2016-17 contract with a Chinese team. Matt Bouldin, Long Island’s No. 11 pick, was named the 2014 D-league Finals MVP with the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants.

SB Nation reports that Forbes, Felix, and Franklin, along with Siva, Kirk, and Akil Mitchell, are the most intriguing prospects of the team’s draft picks. Kendall Gray is perhaps someone else to watch.

Greensboro, an affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets, used its top pick on Josh Davis of the Austin Spurs. Davis went undrafted out of San Diego State but soon after latched on with the San Antonio Spurs on a multi-year contract (partially guaranteed) in 2014. The six-foot-eight forward averaged 13.8 points and 10.6 rebounds along with 1.5 steals while shooting 51.5 percent from the field for Austin in 2014-15.

The Swarm selected five former NBA players, including Scotty Hopkins, Toure Murry, Josh Huestis, Damien Wilkins, and Kris Joseph. Huestis is currently a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Marc Stein of ESPN tweeted yesterday that Murry signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves and will be given a chance to make the team. Six-foot-two guard Dee Bost may also be a player to keep an eye on.

Windy City took former Harvard star Wesley Saunders with its top selection. Saunders, a six-foot-six guard/forward, played with both the Westchester Knicks and Austin Spurs of the D-League last year. He averaged 4.1 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field in 38 games.

The Bulls’ most intriguing pick might be No. 2 selection Kiwi Gardner. The 23-year-old, five-foot-seven guard averaged 4.7 points along with 2.1 assists in just 29 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors as a rookie. He shot 39.1 percent from the field though he made 37.1 percent of his three-point attempts. Gardner also played in the Saudi Premier League last year.

Ralph Sampson III, Jerel McNeal, Casey Prather, Justin Dentmon, and Xavier Thames are other interesting picks by Windy City.

[Photo by Michael Conroy/AP Images]