As we head into the 2017-18 NBA season, I thought it would be good to provide a quick breakdown of the new franchises that will appear in the NBA Gatorade League. The NBA is moving towards a 30 team G League, giving each NBA team their own minor league affiliate. As it stands right now, the G League is almost at its goal, featuring 26 teams for the upcoming season.
The South Bay Lakers are a rebranded version of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, who also were the D-League affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers. This isn't really a new team so much as it is the D-Fenders getting a new name. I'm guessing that the switch from D-League to G League prompted this change. "D-Fenders" was a clever name that tied into the name "D-League", but with the league now known as the "G League" the name "D-Fenders" would just seem obsolete.
The Los Angeles Clippers used to be affiliated with the Bakersfield Jam, but they moved to Prescott Valley, Arizona to become the Northern Arizona Suns, the G League affiliate of the Phoenix Suns. With the Jam relocated, the Clippers needed a G League affiliate of their own, giving rise to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. It's quite a name, which means "Hot Water Clippers" in Spanish. The team is named after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a federally recognized tribe of the Cahuilla in Southern California.
The Memphis Grizzlies were formally associated with the Iowa Energy, who now are known as the Iowa Wolves, associated with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Memphis Hustle will replace the Energy as the Grizzlies' G League affiliate, playing their games in Southaven, Mississippi. The logo is similar to that of the Memphis Sounds, a team that played in the now defunct ABA.
The Orlando Magic were previously associated with the Erie BayHawks, located in Erie, Pennsylvania. With the desire to have their affiliate closer to Orlando, the Magic moved the BayHawks to Lakeland, Florida, which is located about an hour southwest of Orlando, closer to Tampa.
The Iowa Energy, formally associated with the Memphis Grizzlies rebranded themselves as the Iowa Wolves, now serving as the G League affiliate for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves will play in Des Moines.
The Wisconsin Herd will serve as the G League affiliate for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Herd will play in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which is located about an hour southwest of Green Bay, located right off Lake Winnebago.
With the BayHawks name now available after the team's departure to Lakeland, Florida, the Atlanta Hawks took advantage and purchased the team name, keeping the team in Erie, Pennsylvania. At least for now, anyways.
Note: The Washington Wizards will get their own G League team based in the D.C. area starting in the 2018-19 season. This leaves the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Portland Trail Blazers as the only NBA franchises that do not yet have a single affiliate G League team.
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