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Owning 66ers benefits Thunder


Owning 66ers benefits ThunderByron Mullens and Kyle Weaver were assigned to Tulsa Saturday afternoon. Both will play for the 66ers when the NBA Development League season opens later this week.

The Thunder's unique D-League arrangement is beneficial for Weaver, Mullens, the 66ers and the Thunder.

All NBA teams can send players to the D-League. But Oklahoma City is one of only four teams with an exclusive arrangement.

Tulsa coach Nate Tibbetts, who joins the Thunder during summer league and training camp, uses the same playbook. Tulsa's approach is exactly the same whether it's shootarounds or terminology.

"It's a huge positive because of the synergy between Tulsa and our team," said general manger Sam Presti. "Tulsa is a good fit for us to increase the development curve of our players."

Coach Scott Brooks and Presti control how Tibbetts distributes minutes or areas a player needs to concentrate on. Most NBA coaches and general managers don't have that luxury.

Three of the four NBA teams with direct affiliations own their D-League team. Houston doesn't own the Rio Grande Vipers. But like the other three, the Rockets are the only NBA team to send players to McAllen, Texas.

The remaining 26 NBA teams share affiliations with the other 12 D-League teams. NBA general managers still influence D-League decisions. But since they share D League teams it's not as cohesive a set up as the Thunder, Spurs, Rockets and Lakers have.

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants are affiliated with the Pistons, Pacers and Bucks. The Springfield Armor is affiliated with the Knicks, Nets and Sixers. It's impossible for a D-League coach to implement two NBA teams' style of play, much less three.

"It can be tough," Tibbetts said. "( NBA ) teams want to see their guys get touches and use some of the same terminology. But you can't keep everyone happy. You get pulled a lot of different ways. (The Thunder) have the ideal setup."

The D-League was created to help first- and second-year players gain experience instead of watching NBA games in street clothes. Teams can send a player to the D-League three times a season, whether it's a one-day tune-up or two months.

Mullens, a 7-foot center who played only one year at Ohio State, needs experience and will benefit from playing in Tulsa.

Weaver started 19 games last season but hasn't cracked Brooks' nine-man rotation.

D.J. White and Serge Ibaka might be sent to Tulsa at some point. Ibaka would benefit from extended minutes with the 66ers, but his energy has impacted games with the Thunder. Brooks said Saturday that Ibaka will start playing more. If Ibaka ever plays for Tulsa, it probably would be a short stint.

White has proven he can play on the NBA level, but hasn't been part of Brooks' nine-man rotation. For now, White remains with the Thunder.

D-League officials would like to evolve into a situation similar to Triple-A baseball where all 30 NBA teams have one affiliate. If that happens, it's probably at least a decade away.

In the meantime, the Thunder owning its own D-League team puts them a step ahead of most organizations.

"It's a big advantage," Tibbetts said. "The whole terminology is easy for guys that are assigned. Kyle Weaver came up to me and said, 'I'm so happy you've been around.' It really helps their comfort level. It makes the transition easy."

DOWN ON THE FARM

Four NBA teams have a direct affiliation with an NBA Development League team

NBA team,

D-League affiliate

→`Oklahoma City, Tulsa

→San Antonio,

Austin

→Los Angeles,

Los Angeles

→Houston,

Rio Grande


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 25, 2009

 

 
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