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Breaking Down the G League’s Future, With Elite Prospects

Rewinding back to April 16, news emerged that top high-school prospect Jalen Green would be foregoing college to join the G League. In a “reshaped” professional pathway program. As well, it has been confirmed that top prospect, Isaiah Todd, will be following suit.

The G League officially announced the Jalen Green coup, with President Shareef Abdur-Rahim making the following comments.

“He represents the next generation of NBA players, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him develop his professional skills in our league. Jalen will learn from an NBA-caliber coaching and player development staff as he begins his professional basketball journey in the NBA G League.”

Isaiah Todd to bypass college and join Jalen Green in the NBA G League
(Image/Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports)

The New Professional Pathway Program/Select Contract:

The existing scheme was initially set with a $125,000 contract, for a five-month season. This was created in October 2018 in an attempt to capture elite prospects. Allowing them to develop in the G League before heading to the NBA. As opposed to attending college or going overseas.

It became quickly apparent that the sum of money wasn’t competitive. Even though it was way above the $35,000 amount that regular G League players receive. Australia’s National Basketball League soon emerged as a rival, with 2020 NBA Draft prospects LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton opting for that route whilst receiving reported mid-six-figure sums of money. As well as endorsements.

This hasn’t just occurred over the past season. Emmanuel Mudiay played over in China back in 2014, for a large amount, instead of going to college. Rewinding back even further, to 2009, Brandon Jennings did the same in Italy.

Ball and Hampton’s recent decisions has prompted NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Abdur-Rahim to restructure the G League program. With it being reported by Shams Charania, that the select contract to elite prospects will now pay $500,000+. With each player case differing.

It has become clear that bonuses can be earned through appearances, development duties, and community initiatives too. As well as endorsement deals on-top of salaries. Charania has suggested that Jalen Green could pocket over $1 million. Additionally, he will receive a full college scholarship.

New G League Select Team in Los Angeles:

It has been reported that Green and Todd will headline a new G League select team, based in Los Angeles. However, it is believed that the team will operate outside of the traditional G League structure. Additionally, it will not be affiliated to an NBA team.

Green, Todd, and other elite prospects will receive professional coaching, training, and exhibition contests, alongside professional veteran players.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports is suggesting that Sam Mitchell, David Fizdale, and Brian Shaw may be options to take the Head Coach role with the new team.

Additionally, it is understood that the amount of games played will be around 20. Away and condensed from the traditional G League schedule. Opponents will be other G League teams, overseas national teams, and NBA academies. 

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(Image/cnet.com)

Moving Forward:

While many view the G League’s aggressive move to entice elite prospects away from college a positive. The NCAA most certainly will not. The move could have huge effects moving forward.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has reported that uncommitted prospects Makur Maker, Karim Mane, and Kai Sotto could follow Green and Todd into the G League ranks, with the new select team.

This diverts talent away from the college ranks. Should it be successful and Green, Todd, and Co reach the NBA with no hiccups, it could be an established pathway moving forward for prospects.

Rulings were already in place for prospects to enter the league through the G League Draft and the waiver system. The professional pathway program is set for a limited amount of elite prospects. But maybe further young talent that sit around the mid-level could be fed into the league. In an attempt to accelerate their professional careers.

A recent report from Marc Stein of The New York Times, has stated that the NBA’s long-term vision may include having a division that features multiple select teams bundled with elite prospects.

Debate has sparked, for many years, on whether college players should be paid. With the NCAA generating millions of dollars off the backs of athletes, yet still operating under an amateur status.

Increase in Exposure:

Exposure will be lost at the college level and will be gained in the G League, around the select team. The NBA pay G League salaries, and it’s clear that they’re pumping money into this new program.

The G League has grown exponentially since the Gatorade restructure, with players wages going up. As well as the introduction of two-way contracts, and the increase in general talent across the league.

Although, a much larger spotlight is certainly on the G League moving forward now. Consequently, a new television deal could be on the way. Along with further lucrative sponsorship opportunities.


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