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Brad Wanamaker Chasing The NBA Dream

Brad Wanamaker's big playoff series likely won't translate into an NBA contract (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Brad Wanamaker's big playoff series likely won't translate into an NBA contract (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Last week, I talked about Brad Wanamaker's NBDL team, the Austin Toros, playing in the final and then winning the league title.

News of the win is starting to circulate and the Post-Gazette even has a story up on Wanamaker today. But it's not the fact that they broke tradition and wrote about something NBA-related that was a surprise - it was the headline.

Wanamaker's NBA Quest Within Reach after Big D-League Finish

Let me start by saying this isn't about Wanamaker's ability to get a 10-day contract or a brief stint in the league. That's quite possible, especially with the way the league essentially serves as a minor league for the NBA. It's not like the old days where only the top non-NBA players would get a sniff at the league. In the pre-NBDL days, if an NBA team lost a player to injury, they'd sign the first quality player they could. There weren't affiliates and that resulted in a steady stream of the same handful of guys getting shots with various teams ... think NFL coaches being recycled. Now teams will go to their NBDL affiliate for replacements and more players are getting shots.

So with the position that Wanamaker could briefly appear in the NBA is understood. That said, the former Pitt star may still be playing for his NBA life, but I'd hardly say the league is more than a long shot at this point. That's not so much a knock on Wanamaker as it is that it's just incredibly hard to make the NBA - far more difficult than the PG's whimsical title would suggest.

Regardless of what most Pittsburghers will tell you, the NBA is the elite of the elite. The league has, in my opinion, anyway, the top athletes in the world. Lots of guys such as Wanamaker make fine college players but don't even get a sniff at the pros.

I get that Wanamaker had a good series and even a reasonable season. But as I pointed out in the recap of the final game his 18 points were only good for fourth on the team. Lots of players can score in the D-League, in other words. Those who think Wanamaker has a shot at the NBA will quickly point to his all-around game. But while he can do a lot, he doesn't do any one thing particularly well. The D-League is littered with Wannamaker-esqe players.

And Ray Fittipaldo's article provides more evidence to make my case. Wanamaker's opportunity came because ... other players were called up to the NBA. A guy like Flip Murray who's a great athlete got the nod over Wanamaker - partially because of his many years of experience in the league. Teams are not only looking for great athletes, but most of the time they're calling up players due to injuries. They want guys that have experience in the league.

That's not to say Wanamaker will never get his chance - only that despite the good showing he had for the Toros, the NBA is still a long shot. Still, if I'm Wanamaker, if there's any hope of playing in the NBA, I totally understand his decision to play there than make significantly more money overseas. The D-League average last I checked was about $20K or so, while players overseas can make six figures - seven if you're a star. But Wanamaker's young enough that he can continue to chase the dream a bit longer, so it still makes sense to try.

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