NBA Prospect Decides Against College, Joins G League
Hunter O. Lyle – Sports Editor
Earlier this month, Californian NBA prospect Jalen Green decided to take the next step in chasing his dream of becoming a professional athlete. However, he did not sign any letter of intent to attend any DI university. Instead, Green chose to bypass the NCAA and join the NBA’s developmental league, the G League.
When thinking about the journey to the NBA, the most common path is for prospects to showcase their talents on the collegiate stage, where future players can both improve their game while also earning a degree. However, a new route is opening up that leads directly to a roster spot on a professional team, thanks to efforts made by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and G League President Shareef Abdul-Rahim.
According to ESPN, the league wanted to make joining the NBA via way of the G League more enticing after seeing previous prospects, like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, play in Australia’s basketball league, so Silver and Abdul-Rahim set out a two-pronged strategy of doing so.
First off, the G League made their offer more attractive for up-and-coming players by increasing the financial benefits of signing with them. Green stands to make $500,000 in his first year, an increase from the $125,000 offered previously. Secondly, the NBA and G League have worked together to make the structure of the developmental league easier for newcomers. According to ESPN, “the season could include 10 to 12 games against G League teams that wouldn’t count in standings. The primary objective will be assimilation and growth into the NBA on several levels — from playing to the teaching of life skills.”
While this is just the first year of this new system of becoming a professional basketball player, this surely could rise to be a rivaled option to the collegiate playing field.
For one, many prospective players come from low-income homes, so the almost instant paycheck, which stands in direct opposition with the NCAA which does not allow players to be compensated in any way, could be paramount. It could offer financial security not only for the athletes themselves, but for their families while they raise their draft stock and look to get an even bigger paycheck one day.
Secondly, playing in the G League offers a smoother acclimation into the type of basketball that occurs on the NBA hardwood. Coming out of high school, players like Green will be matched up against seasoned veterans who would not only offer mentorship, but will also train and challenge them to become better players. Also, the prospects will be playing with a 24 second shot clock instead of a 36 second clock as in the NCAA and adjust to the pace similar to the NBA. If all goes well, athletes that take time and develop in the sub-NBA will come out ahead in the long run.
Of course, this is new, and there are some downsides. If a lower prospect joins the G League, the pay will most likely be lower that Green’s, the process may take longer and if nothing really becomes of this experience, they will not have a degree like they would have if they went to college.
However, the NBA has the best developmental league in the world, and they consistently are trying new things and ironing out others across the board, so I have faith they will find a way to promote an alternative to college that leads to the NBA.
In a few years, I would have my money on seeing more prospects take this atypical route.