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Los Angeles D-Fenders to change name to South Bay Lakers

The team’s rebrand will become official at the start of next season.

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Most teams with the top overall record in whatever league they’re playing in wouldn’t want to change much. The Los Angeles D-Fenders went against that line of thinking when they announced they will be changing their name to the South Bay Lakers at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.

“I am excited to announce the South Bay Lakers rebrand,” President/CEO Joey Buss said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to leverage the iconic Lakers brand, celebrate our amazing community and emphasize our franchise’s accomplishments over the last 10 years while we continue to compete for an NBA D-League championship.”

So aside from the D-Fenders ironically ranking ninth-worst in the D-League in defensive efficiency this season, why the name change?

Multiple members of the organization had expressed unhappiness with the “D-Fenders” name over the past year. As far as D-League names go, it’s far from the silliest, but it also wasn’t a name that resonated with the public in the way the parent “Lakers” name does.

A name change won’t fix that entirely (people are never going to be as dedicated to a team’s D-League outfit as they are to the parent squad), but getting the “Lakers” name should certainly promote more enthusiasm in the team locally. Combine that with a new arena at the Lakers new practice facility, and the D-Fenders’ rebrand could be a nice way to spark interest in one of the D-League’s best teams.

D-Fenders showcase skills

The NBA D-League’s annual showcase took place in Mississauga, Ontario this week, offering a chance for the league’s best players to, ahem, showcase their skills for the littany of scouts and NBA executives in attendance.

The D-Fenders backcourt of Vander Blue and Josh Magette rose to the occasion in search of call-ups. Blue racked up 29.5 points and 3.5 assists per game over the showcase, above his averages of 24.9 and 2.5.

Magette slung 9 assists in the first quarter of the D-Fenders’ second game alone, and finished the two-game stretch with averages 17 points per game and 14.5 assists. Like Blue, both numbers are above his season averages of 14.6 and 10.1 in those categories.

As the NBA enters call-up season after the trade deadline, both guards would seem to be prime candidates for a roster spot on a team that either needs a dose of playmaking off the bench (Magette) or an injection of scoring (Blue).

Zubac done in D-League?

Ivica Zubac is now officially in the rotation for the Lakers, having taken Thomas Robinson’s spot over the last several games. While it’s unknown whether or not that’s a permanent change, Zubac is unlikely to spend time with the D-Fenders if he is getting real minutes at the NBA level.

If Zubac has spent his last time in the D-League, he finishes with averages of 15.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, and one block.

You can follow this author on Twitter at@hmfaigen. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats per

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