Jeremy Lin has yet to distinguish himself among NBA stars. He still needs to develop creativity and technique and refine his shot setup. Lin still has years ahead of him in which to establish a track record as a starter.
What he has done is distinguish himself among players who have played in the NBA Developmental League. For many players, the NBDL is a stage on which they can sustain their careers. Now, for Lin and others, the developmental league is just a temporary pen in which they exercise their skills against inferior talents.
Mostly, players who pass through the NBDL get through their time there and don’t return. After a tour in 2010-’11 and a game in 2011-’12 Lin is almost certainly to do just that.
Following is a list of players who have made it through the NBDL and gone on to establish themselves better in the NBA.
Jeremy Lin played 20 games in the NBDL in 2010-’11 and one in 2011-’12. After that one game for the Erie Bayhawks this past season, Lin joined the New York Knicks and there was no turning back. He had a six-game spurt that was unlike any a former D-Leaguer has compiled in the same season as his D-League stint.
Lin had his memorable February spurt just two weeks after he played his game for Erie. He’d go on to average 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 44.6 percent from the field before going down with a torn meniscus after 35 games played.
His breakout came at the right time, as he went on to sign a three-year, $25 million contract with the Houston Rockets after the season.
Lin will be given full ownership of the starting point guard job in Houston, with lightweights Toney Douglas and Shaun Livingston backing him up.
Running the point in Houston will likely give him more scoring opportunities than he had in New York, since Kevin Martin is the only demanding scorer for the Rockets.
Rafer Alston needed just six games with the Mobile Revelers in 2002-’03 before the indication was made that he’d done his time. Alston averaged 15.8 points and 9.7 assists per game during that stint.
He would finish with 7.8 points per game on 41.5 percent shooting for the Toronto Raptors that season.
The following year would see Alston’s rise begin. He had his first of six straight seasons averaging double figures in scoring. In 2004-’05 he averaged 14.2 points and 6.4 assists per game for the Raptors.
In 2009 Alston helped the Orlando Magic reach the NBA Finals after being traded there in a three-team deal. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists over 29 games of the regular season in Orlando. In the playoffs, Alston averaged 12.2 points per game on 38 percent shooting.
In 2011-’12, Alston found himself in the D-League once again, playing sparsely in four games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
Chuck Hayes has had a nice seven-year career as a mid-level rebounder. Much of that was built after a 15-game stint with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds in 2005-’06.
Hayes piled up the necessary numbers in Albuquerque, averaging 10.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game before returning to the Houston Rockets.
He ended up with 4.5 rebounds per game in his rookie year for the Rockets.
In his second season, Hayes went hard on the boards, pulling down 6.7 rebounds in 22 minutes per game.
In 2009-’10 Hayes started all 82 games for Houston, averaging 5.7 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game. In terms of rebounding, this was a bit of a down year, since his 9.4 rebounds per 36 minutes was a career low before this season.
In 2010-11 he averaged a stellar 8.1 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game. He was able to maintain this relatively high amount of playing time since he committed a career-low 3.5 fouls per 36 minutes.
For his career, Hayes averages 5.6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He has started 242 of 478 career games.
Chris Andersen has made quite the run for a guy who went through the NBDL. He’s averaged 5.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 482 games over 10 seasons.
His playing time hasn’t been consistent. He’s played 70 games in a season three times and has played 20 minutes per game three times.
Still, he’s managed to be a shot-blocking force almost every year he’s been in the league. Despite his mid-rotation role, Andersen has averaged a block per game in nine of 10 seasons.
In 2008-’09 Andersen averaged a remarkable 2.5 blocks in just 20.6 minutes per game while also posting 6.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. That postseason he averaged 6.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He led playoff performers in block rate at 8.4 percent and offensive rating at 139 points per 100 possessions.
In 2009-’10 the “Birdman” placed sixth in blocks per game with 1.9 and was tops in block rate at 6.3 percent.
Whether Andersen will be able to continue his block party off the bench remains to be seen. His home was searched as part of an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children unit. He was released by the Denver Nuggets in July.
Nevertheless, Andersen can always remember that he broke through after playing three games in the NBDL for the Fayetteville Patriots.
Mikki Moore was one player who needed a little bit extra before taking off. He played 42 games for the Roanoke Dazzle in 2002-’03 and then 17 more in 2003-’04.
Those stints came at a surprising point in his career—in his fifth and sixth seasons, respectively.
Moore has played for nine teams in 13 seasons. He’s played 564 games and started 181. He’s played 70 or more games in four of those seasons.
In 2006-’07 Moore had his best season. He averaged 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting a league-best 60.3 percent from the field in his second season in a Nets uniform.
In 2007-’08 he averaged 8.5 points and six rebounds per game while starting 79 of 82 games for the Sacramento Kings.
Interestingly, Moore returned to the NBDL to play 33 games for the Idaho Stampede in 2011-’12.
Gerald Green has been on a winding NBA journey; he is now looking to join his sixth team in six seasons.
His professional basketball journey saw him play for the Patriots and the Florida Flame in his rookie year of 2005-’06.
In 2006-’07 Green took another step, averaging 10.4 points per game in 81 games.
Green’s 2011-’12 campaign saw him rack up 22 games with the D-Fenders. He ended up averaging 12.9 points in just 25.2 minutes per game in 31 games.
Whether Green will be able to keep it going with the Indiana Pacers will be fun to see. The Pacers are a grinding unit and this could rub off on Green.
Danny Green took some time to put his skills together, but now that he has, he’s a sight to see. Green played for three NBDL teams in 2009-’10 and 2010-’11.
This past season his hard work has paid off as he shone for the San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 9.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, shot 44.2 percent from the field and 43.6 from three-point range.
Like Jeremy Lin, Danny Green is a player who came out of the D-League and is moving up the charts. Green’s next stage of development will be fun to see, as he appears to be a solid all-around shooter.