As the popularity of the NBA develops rapidly, even through adversity like the coronavirus pandemic. A high tide raises all boats and the NBA’s development league known as the “G League” is gaining a foothold among basketball lovers. The league, which is a “research and development laboratory” for players and coaches, can boast of rising prominence in the United States, with many future lottery picks now considering it as a viable alternative to the NCAA.
Can anyone play in the G League? No, the G-League is a fairly restricted league with a high entry requirement. Only drafted, franchise-affiliated and local tryout players are eligible to play in the G League. There are rules that restrict and govern it, to keep it’s focus on developing talent and supporting the main NBA Franchises in raising the level of play in the NBA.
The G League can be an excellent way for newly-drafted players to test their skills and gain new experience playing for minor league teams, if they are struggling to get minutes for their parent franchise. They may get “sent down” to the G-League to get game time under their belts, especially if they are young. Let’s have a look at some of the important information regarding the G League, as well as players who successfully managed to establish themselves in the NBA following time in the G League.
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How big is a G-league roster?
There are a minimum of 10 players on rosters, not including a pair of two-way players allowed per NBA team. A team’s active roster may expand to up to 13 players if its parent club assigns players from the NBA roster.
There are 29 teams in the G League. Each of these teams holds their own tryouts, where potential players need to prove themselves to be eligible to take part in league matches. There have been a lot of success stories, where players managed to establish themselves and became integral members of their respective G-league teams after first being invited to a try out. From these local try outs a G-league team can invite a maximum of 4 players to their training camp.
Similar to the NBA draft, there is a separate draft in the G League, where numerous players are selected. Unlike the NBA, where novice players are picked up by different teams, in the G League, even veteran athletes and undrafted rookies are eligible for the draft. Usually, about 100 players are selected and they wait for their chances to play for major NBA teams. Like the main NBA Draft, potential G-league players that are not affiliated with a parent franchise will have to be drafted onto a roster.
28 of the 30 NBA Franchises (not Portland or Phoenix) have an affiliated G-League team. They can send players here for development or rehab during the season.
Before the season kicks off in the NBA, some players might be released from the main roster to participate in the G League. These players are seen as replacements. They can gain valuable experience and upon returning to their respective teams can contribute to the team’s success.
We can also include two-way players in the following category. Because of the following reasons, NBA teams have the luxury to have two players who will spend the majority of the season playing for affiliate teams. These players can spend a maximum of 45 Days on their parent NBA team’s roster. The contract is structured as such that the player will be paid different amounts, depending on how many games they play in each league.
Is the G League Effective in developing NBA talent?
There are both pros and cons to playing in the G League. Some players indeed gain valuable experience competing in the G League, while the other ones find it too easy to play against minor players. Because of that, it is difficult to find a straightforward answer to this question. In some cases, a lot of talents were discovered, who, returning to the NBA became one of the main driving forces for their franchises. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Right now, Pascal Siakam is widely considered one of the best players in the NBA. Playing for the Toronto Raptors, Siakam is a leading scorer of the team and basically, he contributed a lot to the championship, which the Raptors won against the Golden State Warriors in 2019. Initially, he was playing in the G League and Siakam’s tendencies to injuries forced the Raptors to release him. When he returned to the team, Siakam quickly demonstrated his abilities and currently, he is an irreplaceable player for the Raptors.
Quite a few people knew about Hassan Whiteside when he was playing in the G League for various teams. His main success came in the Miami Heat when he was one of the leaders in rebounds and blocks. Playing as a centre, Whiteside was later transferred to the Portland Trail Blazers. At the present moment, Whiteside has already played over 400 games in the NBA, averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Everyone remembers a period in 2012 when Linsanity started to shock everyone in the NBA. Playing for the New York Knicks, Jeremy Lin was leading the team to several consecutive wins. As starters were injured he became the main choice to play as a point guard and the Chinese player did not disappoint. Lin was also playing in the G League and upon returning to the NBA, he quickly showed everyone his capabilities. Sadly, the success did not last long and soon after Lin moved from the New York Knicks.
Danny Green is one of few players that has managed to win 3 championships with 3 different teams. Seems exciting right? However, an excellent 3-point shooter and defender was once a participant of the G League. Later he was called up to the San Antonio Spurs, where Gregg Popovich found the use of him and Green became an epitome of a shooting guard, playing against elite players. Right now, Green is playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jalen Green is the explosive rookie guard for the Houston Rockets. Drafted in 2021 with the 2nd overall pick he chose to skip the NCAA system and played his post high school year in the G-League with the Ignite development squad. This is set to become more and more common as players choose to get paid straight away, rather than play for free in the NCAA.
Are Rookies Often Sent to the G League?
Assessing the latest trends in the NBA, rookies who have just come to the NBA, are frequently sent by their respective teams to play for the G League teams. Normally, these are the players that come not from the United States, but from foreign countries. Frequently, these players have amazing statistics and the G League seems too easy for them, so teams return them to the main roster, giving another chance.
The Bottom Line
To address the main question of our article, not every player is eligible to play for the G League teams. There are certain criteria that players need to take into account before they consider competing in the minor league. However, as less-effective as it may seem from the first glance, G League can be really helpful for players to find themselves and when they come back to the NBA, assist their teams fight for higher goals.