About the NBADL Affiliate: Iowa Energy


The Iowa Energy are owned and operated by Iowa Basketball, LLC, a group composed of Des Moines businessmen Jerry Crawford, Gary Kirke, Sheldon Ohringer and Paul Drey. Global Spectrum — a management firm that oversees Wells Fargo Arena, home of the Energy  — is also strategic partner.

NBA teams are permitted to carry 15 players on their roster. If a team assigns one of its players to their Development League affiliate, that player still accounts for a roster spot. Assigning one of the 15 players is tricky, the player–who is an investment–must need development and not be a liable risk financially. These assignments will play more basketball, therefore the risk for injury becomes greater.

The HoopsHabit NBDL Genesis explains in depth, but because there is not a lone affiliate for each professional team — some D-League teams may consist of players from multiple NBA rosters. The Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves all use Iowa as their assignment location for players in need of development.

D-League rosters are constructed by way of its own league draft, player assignments, allocations (player with an appeal to a particular market, therefore boosting ticket sales), tryouts and from a returning player pool. Players sign sign a one-year contract with the league itself, but are relieved of their contractual obligations they are signed to an NBA franchise. Not every D-League player is affiliated with a professional team. This approach has allows for more transactions between the separate leagues.

The Iowa Energy hired Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach during the offseason. Bjorkgren was an assistant from ’10-’11 and is familiar with the way Iowa Basketball and Global Spectrum run their operations. He recorded a 124-76 overall record in his first stint with the team and won a D-League Championship in ’10-’11; he coached the Santa Cruz Warriors to a championship in the team’s inaugural season last year.

Bjorkgren was optimistic about the upcoming year after the NBDL draft on November 1st.

"“We have good balance at every position to where guys can really come into camp and compete,” Bjorkgren said “I want a very competitive training camp and guys fighting for positions because that’s what it takes.”"

Iowa Energy Training Camp Roster broken down.

From the Returning Player Pool (Players from the previous season)

By way of trade during the offseason

Drafted on Nov. 1

  • Esian Henderson
  • Marcus Johnson
  • Jeff Jones
  • David Smedley
  • Eric Wise

On assignment

  • Patrick Christopher (Bulls)
  • Kalin Lucas (Bulls)

Lucas, 24, is sixth in Michigan State history with 558 career assists in three years as a starting point guard under Tom Izzo. Christopher, 25, averaged around 15 points per game as a three year starter at the University of California but has played in Europe the last three seasons. He averaged 14 pace adjusted points per game last season playing in France. Jeffers, 28, was a favorite to make the Timberwolves roster but was cut after the preseason was complete. Varnado, 25, appeared in eight games with the Miami Heat last season and was acquired from the Heat’s Sioux Falls Skyforce in a blockbuster draft day trade that sent the Energy’s first overall draft selection to South Dakota.

With two players under the watchful eye of an NBA franchise and one fresh off experience at the professional level — the Energy are going to one of the better teams in the League next season. They’re coming off a dismal 14-26 finish last year, a Central division and D-League worst.

"“It doesn’t always happen this way, but we feel extremely fortunate,” Bjorkgren continued after the Draft. “We’re putting together a nice team. Now we’ve got to go out and win games.”"

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