Evaluating the 2016-17 NBA D-League Schedule

Updated: August 23, 2016
Source: NBADLeague.com

On Monday, the NBA D-League released its full schedule for the upcoming season. Much like last season, D-League Digest is breaking it down from longest road trips and home stands, to the number of back-to-backs each team is playing. To give yourself a refresher, here’s a link to last year’s edition.

Source: NBADLeague.com

Source: NBADLeague.com

This year’s schedule is much improved for a number of different reasons. But first, some quick hits on what we know.

  • There is a gap in the schedule between Jan. 15 and Jan. 25, 2017. This place is more than likely reserved for this year’s D-League Showcase, which is expected to take place in the Raptors 905 backyard this season according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
  • We’ve got a Christmas Day game as the Sioux Falls Skyforce play host to the Northern Arizona Suns.
  • The regular season tips off on Nov. 11, and concludes Apr. 1. The Windy City Bulls and the Long Island Nets tip-off their inaugural seasons on the 11th against one another, while the Greensboro Swarm open their season on Nov. 12 hosting the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
  • There conferences have been realigned with Sioux Falls and Iowa moving out west to accommodate the Long Island Nets, Greensboro Swarm and Windy City Bulls joining the Eastern Conference. The Skyforce and Energy will join the Southwest Division with Austin, Rio Grande Valley, Texas, and Oklahoma City.

Balanced Schedule

After years of the D-League putting together lopsided regular season schedules, it seems they’ve finally gotten it right. Unlike last season, when some teams weren’t scheduled to play as many as seven other D-League teams during the regular season, all D-League teams are scheduled to play every team except for one.

Even Schmidt can't believe it.

Even Schmidt can’t believe it.

Similar conference opponents are played between 3-to-4 times while opposing conference teams are played once.

The league has come a long way with its scheduling from just a few years ago when teams were playing one another as many as 10 times in a single season. This balanced schedule is refreshing and makes much more sense for a league trying to follow the NBA model.

As far as the one team everyone is missing off their schedule, you can expect that gap to be filled at the D-League Showcase (it only makes sense) so we will finally see a D-League regular season where everyone plays one another at least once.

Kudos to the league for getting this right.

Back To Back Reduction

For the second-consecutive season, the D-League has made an effort to reduce back-to-backs during the regular season as well. Last season, the Texas Legends led the way with 16 back-to-backs scheduled. This year, the most back-to-backs any team has is 11 (Erie BayHawks, Greensboro Swarm, Rio Grande Valley Vipers), while one team has as few as three back-to-backs (Reno Bighorns). Here’s a complete breakdown of back-to-backs dating back to the 2014-15 season.

Team2014-15 Season2015-16 Season2016-17 Season
Austin Spurs161110
Canton Charge1589
Delaware 87ers141110
Erie BayHawks141111
Fort Wayne Mad Ants1478
Grand Rapids Drive1689
Greensboro SwarmN/AN/A11
Iowa Energy12810
Long Island NetsN/AN/A5
Los Angeles D-Fenders1399
Maine Red Claws9147
Northern Arizona Suns*10125
Oklahoma City Blue1264
Raptors 905N/A116
Reno Bighorns9123
Rio Grande Valley Vipers101311
Salt Lake City Stars**18138
Santa Cruz Warriors121510
Sioux Falls Skyforce12137
Texas Legends15169
Westchester Knicks15118
Windy City BullsN/AN/A10

The league continues to use the schedule to its advantage, providing more travel dates between games will make life easier for those in the D-League (it’s not a pampered life, but teams playing over half their games in back-to-back fashion does not make for a competitive league).

Here’s a chart of how many times each team will play one another over the course of the regular season.

Team NameAustin SpursCanton ChargeDelaware 87ersErie BayHawksFort Wayne Mad AntsGrand Rapids DriveGreensboro SwarmIowa EnergyLong Island NetsLos Angeles D-FendersMaine Red ClawsNorthern Arizona SunsOklahoma City BlueRaptors 905Reno BighornsRio Grande Valley VipersSalt Lake City StarsSanta Cruz WarriorsSioux Falls SkyforceTexas LegendsWestchester KnicksWindy City Bulls
Austin SpursX111111414034143444411
Canton Charge1X44444141311411110134
Delaware 87ers14X4443140411411111143
Erie BayHawks144X443141401411111134
Fort Wayne Mad Ants1444X44141310411111143
Grand Rapids Drive14444X4131411311111044
Greensboro Swarm143344X141411411101144
Iowa Energy4111111X14144043344411
Long Island Nets14444341X1411301111144
Los Angeles D-Fenders410111141X144144443311
Maine Red Claws0344344141X11411111144
Northern Arizona Suns31101114141X3144444411
Oklahoma City Blue411101141413X144434411
Raptors 9051444434031411X11111144
Reno Bighorns41111114041441X4343411
Rio Grande Valley Vipers311111131414414X444410
Salt Lake City Stars4111111314144134X44401
Santa Cruz Warriors41111104141431444X4311
Sioux Falls Skyforce401111141314413444X411
Texas Legends4111101413144144434X11
Westchester Knicks13434441414114110111X4
Windy City Bulls143434414141141011114X

Road Trips and Home Stands

How do the teams differ in this category? Quite a bit. The Salt Lake City Stars and the Texas Legends both own the longest home stands of eight games apiece.

Meanwhile, the Canton Charge have the longest road trip of seven games. Most teams fall within the four-to-six game range on either side, but there are a few teams with only three game home stands (Erie, Greensboro, Long Island, Santa Cruz). However, no team has any shorter road trip than four games this season.

This part can be challenging for the league to schedule, depending on which teams are more flexible and allow the league to schedule weekday games as most teams prefer Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to draw fans in.

It does seem to be a bit of disparity if a few teams can have eight game home stands while others only have three. It’s not a perfect science but given the circumstances it’s bound to happen given the nature of the D-League.

Team NameLongest Home Stand Longest Road Trip
Austin Spurs6 (Feb. 23 - Mar. 9)5 (Dec. 6 - Dec. 16)
Canton Charge5 (Nov. 25 - Dec. 7)7 (Dec. 30 - Jan. 14)
Delaware 87ers5 (Feb. 7 - Feb. 22)4 (Mar. 5 - Mar. 17)
Erie BayHawks3 (Dec. 23 - Dec. 30)5 (Nov. 17 - Nov. 26)
Fort Wayne Mad Ants6 (Dec. 3 - Dec. 20)5 (Mar. 8 - Mar. 15)
Grand Rapids Drive7 (Dec. 2 - Dec. 17)5 (Jan. 6 - Jan. 14)
Greensboro Swarm3 (Mar. 4 - Mar. 11)5 (Dec. 28 - Jan. 12)
Iowa Energy6 (Mar. 5 - Mar. 21)5 (Dec. 29 - Jan. 11)
Long Island Nets3 (Dec. 19 - Dec. 26)6 (Feb. 22 - Mar. 8)
Los Angeles D-Fenders4 (Dec. 1 - Dec. 10)6 (Jan. 29 - Feb. 8)
Maine Red Claws5 (Jan. 27 - Feb. 9)6 (Feb. 14 - Mar. 6)
Northern Arizona Suns5 (Dec. 3 - Dec. 14)5 (Feb. 7 - Feb. 14)
Oklahoma City Blue4 (Nov. 29 - Dec. 10)4 (Feb, 7 - Feb. 12)
Raptors 9056 (Nov. 18 - Dec. 1)5 (Mar. 1 - Mar. 10)
Reno Bighorns6 (Jan. 3 - Jan. 18)4 (Feb. 9 - Feb. 22)
Rio Grande Valley Vipers7 (Mar. 16 - Mar. 30)5 (Dec. 16 - Dec. 27)
Salt Lake City8 (Dec. 16 - Jan. 11)6 (Mar. 15 - Mar. 25)
Santa Cruz Warrriors3 Dec. 27 - Jan. 6)5 (Nov. 27 - Dec. 6)
Sioux Falls Skyforce4 (Mar. 15 - Mar. 28)4 (Dec. 3 - Dec. 9)
Texas Legends8 (Feb. 22 - Mar. 11)6 (Mar. 13 - Mar. 23)
Westchester Knicks4 (Nov. 19 - Nov. 30)5 (Mar. 3 - Mar. 14)
Windy City Bulls4 (Mar. 4 - Mar. 8)5 (Feb. 22 - Mar. 1)

In short, it’s a much-improved schedule that the league will hopefully continue to follow as the league grows. Travel arrangements might become easier as more teams are added, making it more cost effective than previous years.

One Comment

  1. Tory R Smith

    September 13, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I’m looking forward to tryout for D league this will be my first time.

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