The Charlotte Hornets have plans to start their own NBA Development League franchise as early as the 2016-17 season, according to a report by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Four cities from North Carolina -- Asheville, Fayetville, Greensboro, and Raleigh -- along with three from South Carolina -- Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville -- have been contacted by the Hornets to determine their interest in hosting the franchise.
The idea is simple. Charlotte shares their current D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad-Ants, with 12 other NBA teams, which leaves them virtually no control over how players sent to the Mad Ants and managed, used, etc. Owning their own franchise would allow them to develop prospects in ways that fit the style of play of the Hornets, and general manager Rich Cho made it clear how that control could benefit the team, both in sending players down and calling them up:
"For example, running the same offense and defense, using the same terminology. So if we're sending Noah Vonleh to our own D-League team, there's a much more seamless transition.
"And conversely, if we were to bring up a player from that team that uses the same offense, defense and terminology, there's a much better opportunity for him to jump right in."
Both Cho and team president Fred Whitfield agreed a regional franchise would help in making the transition to and from franchises more seamless, and as Whitfield noted, an additional goal of the franchise would be growing the Hornets brand in the regional area.
This annoucement is a huge step in the right direction for the Hornets. The D-League is becoming an increasingly useful tool for teams to develop and discover talent. Considering Rich Cho's history of drafting young prospects that require years of development, a Hornets-owned D-League team could minimize the risk of such draft picks, as these players could develop in the D-League under the Hornets system, rather than sit at the end of the bench in Charlotte (this isn't a dig, promise). The next step appears to be deciding on a city that will host the franchise.
So let's hear it -- what city would work best for a Hornets' own D-League franchise, and how beneficial could this team be?