The G League is the NBA’s developmental league, previously called the D League for that exact reason. As many predicted, the D League was a dud, likely due to its name. Believing in its ability, Gatorade took over sponsorship of the league and has since revolutionized the re-branding of the NBA’s minor league system.
While the G League is technically the farm system for the NBA, players with NBA experience can sign with any NBA team - unlike the MLB minor league system. However, the G League has become so successful that it’s become a legitimate competitor to elite Division I programs, enticing elite prospects to choose an alternate route. Competition quality can no longer be questioned about the G League as former NBA players are often on the floor during these games.
Playing against former pros, and practicing with them for that matter, enables prospects who forego the collegiate route to prepare themselves for life in the NBA. Though the “one and done” rule still applies to prospects who are one year out of high school, their perceived value - or projectability remains even without taking the typical collegiate route. Elite prospects are now being selected atop the NBA Draft boards due to the respect the G League has garnered.
In 2021, G League teammates were chosen within the top 10 of the draft. Jalen Green was taken second overall by the Houston Rockets, and Jonathan Kuminga was taken 7th overall by the Golden State Warriors. Both players spent the previous season playing for the Ignite, who joined the G League in 2020 as the developmental route for players who elected not to play Division I college basketball. These young athletes are offered a maximum of $500,000 for joining this team and can attend Arizona State University classes on full scholarship. Now the G League takes center stage as the future of the NBA may blossom from players stemming from the G League.