Starting in 2019, the NBA G-League will be starting a new venture that will offer elite high school basketball graduates an opportunity worth considering. The NBA’s development league will offer $125k to players that don’t want to play basketball in college.
The requirements for this is that players that want to take this path will have to be 18 years old and they are not yet eligible for the NBA.
On the flip side, if a player goes to college they can still leave after a year of attendance. Coming straight out of high school and playing in the NBA is still out of the question.
Players will also have the freedom to market themselves if they play in the G-League.
About a year ago, Lavar Ball created a league called the JBA which had a similar path in which players could join if they did not want to surpass money and get paid. Basically, Lavar did not want his son Lamelo to get exploited in the collegiate ranks. In the JBA, athletes get paid and travel. This was supposed to change the way of players potentially making it to the NBA.
With the G-League coming up with this incentive could this put the JBA in trouble?
One thing that is killing the JBA is the players having to forfeit a substantial percentage of their jersey sales as well as players not getting paid, so it’s failing to live up to the idea of paying the players in full operationally.
From a competition standpoint, the G-League already has the JBA beat. Many of the players who go undrafted end up in the G-League and some of them were stars or household names in college. Not to mention, the JBA struggled getting top recruits to even consider playing in the league.
There is still the question is of whether top high school prospects would want to ignore college basketball for the G-League. Exposure is minimal at the G-League level whereas NCAA games are nationally televised. It would have been hard to sell a fan on players such as Trae Young and Deandre Ayton if they were in the G-League. Those were a couple guys who benefitted from that collegiate exposure as everyone can’t have a buzz like Zion Williamson or LaMelo at the high school level.
At the end of the day, players that finished high school deserve to have the option of getting paid and getting minimal exposure in the G-League or going to college, living on a stipend, and getting a lot of coverage. The NBA essentially gave these young men the opportunity to exercise their freedom of choice.