The NBA Developmental League added three new franchises to its roster for the 2016-17 season. The Windy City Bulls (affiliate of the Chicago Bulls), the Greensboro Swarm (affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets), and the Long Island Nets (affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets). The Nets franchise finds itself in a unique position. Until the renovations have been finished at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island, the team will share the home of its NBA parent club: The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“It’s very rare to get to play any games in an NBA arena in the D-League, but to play every game in the Barclays Center is a great opportunity for us,” said head coach Ronald Nored at the franchise’s Media Day at the Barclays Center practice court Friday. “Our guys need to understand that and come to play every day and be thankful for this opportunity.”
One of his players, forward Dwayne Polee Jr., echoes Nored’s sentiments, calling the opportunity to play and practice in the same facility as the Brooklyn Nets a “one in a million experience.”
In any NBA Developmental League season, the roster consistently churns as players get called up to the NBA or sent down to work on their skills. For coach Nored, having the players already in the same building is great because it allows a sense of continuity that other teams within the league don’t necessarily get.
“Fortunately for us we’re in the same building. We practice in the same building, we play in the same building, we run the same system (as the Nets),” said Nored. “So, if that were to happen, guys come down with a seamless transition, no confusion. They can just come and play and get better.”
As for the roster the way it’s currently constructed, there are multiple recognizable names for college basketball fans and among them is Yogi Ferrell, the former point guard for the Indiana Hoosiers, whom the Nets signed as an undrafted free agent this summer and is expected to be one of the stars of this team.
Nored has high expectations for the 6-foot guard as he enters his first professional season. The relationship with the two goes back to Nored’s time at Butler University as a player under coach Brad Stevens.
“A guy that was one of my coaches at Butler was Yogi’s high school coach,” said Nored. “My four years of college were his four years of high school, so I’ve known him for a long time. We’ve already been able to build a great relationship through Brooklyn Nets training camp, through Summer League and that’s continuing on now. I think Yogi’s a heck of a player, I think he’s got the opportunity to move past the D-League and into the NBA one day. I think he’s that talented, so we’re expecting a lot from him.”
For Ferrell’s part, he’s shown through his college career that he’s capable of leading a team but, as he prepares for his first pro season, he knows he has to improve a couple areas of his game to live up to the expectations that coach Nored and the Nets organization have for him.
“I need to be a pest on defense. Someone at my size needs to disrupt the offense,” said Ferrell. “Also, I’ve got to get guys involved. I need to show the many teams out there how well I get my teammates involved and when the shots open for me, that I can knock it down.”
Ferrell isn’t alone in hoping to improve his game to hopefully get a shot at the NBA. That’s why the players are here. With each player having his own goal to get to the NBA, a roster constructed from guys that played throughout the league, and a franchise just getting off the ground, chemistry could seem like a question mark. However, Nored says that despite all of those factors, the team has gelled nicely in training camp so far.
“We have guys that get outside themselves to make other guys better,” said Nored. “It’s going to be a process all year, it won’t be perfect all year but, the first three days of practice we’ve built that chemistry and we’ve gotten better at it every day.”
What can fans expect when they come out to the Barclays Center to watch the Nets play this season? According to Polee Jr., an athletic, up-tempo style of team.
“We’re super athletic, super-long. I think we’re going to play a lot of up-and-down ball,” said Polee Jr. “We also have a good mix of young and older veteran players which I think is going to help us in the long run.”
The franchise opens its inaugural season with four straight road games beginning on November 11th against the Windy City Bulls. The first home game will be on Wednesday, November 23rd with tip time scheduled for 1:30 p.m at the Barclays Center. For ticket information and the team’s full schedule, head over to their website.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.