Milwaukee Bucks: G League set to become more important than ever

MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 26: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 26: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

With news of seismic changes to the path for young players turning professional, the G League is set to become more important than ever for the Milwaukee Bucks.

The wait for any concrete news related to on-court NBA action goes on, but Thursday did deliver some truly seismic news that could completely transform the way in which young players enter the league.

In what could prove to be a major blow to the NCAA as the proven pathway for top prospects to prepare for the draft, the NBA G League announced a new initiative that will see players get to play in the league, in a structured development program centered around a new, non-affiliated team.

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That announcement came with an added punch as Jalen Green, a top prospect in the 2020 recruitment class, announced his intention to enter the G League program, and join the new team that is set to be based in Southern California. Another highly touted prospect from that same class, Isaiah Todd, has also reportedly signaled his intention to take this newly established G League route too.

In their report for ESPN, Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojnarowski outlined the nature of the program that top prospects such as Green will be a part of:

"“Green is committing to become part of a yearlong developmental program with G League oversight that will include professional coaching, top prospects and veteran players who will combine training and exhibition competitions against the likes of G League teams, foreign national teams and NBA academies throughout the world, sources said.The season could include 10 to 12 games against G League teams that wouldn’t count in standings, sources said. The primary objective will be assimilation and growth into the NBA on several levels — from playing to the teaching of life skills.”"

Further details include that players will be paid $500,000-plus, with salary incentives in place for games played, participation in community events, and attendance of life skills workshops, and they will also be free to hire agents and pursue endorsements due to operating away from college eligibility rules too.

With all of this in mind, the attention that’s going to be piled on the G League will only further amplify the minor league’s growing importance for NBA franchises with affiliate teams.

On that front, the Milwaukee Bucks will enter into the G League’s new reality off the back of a fantastic season for the Wisconsin Herd, which saw the Oshkosh-based squad boast the league’s top record when play was halted due to coronavirus.

The Herd’s first few years in existence have certainly been packed with ups and downs, but the current campaign offered up notable evidence that Dave Dean and his front office staff may just have started to master the intricacies of identifying talent and building a roster at this level.

With the possibility that the Herd and other G League teams could be increasingly matched up against some of the game’s top young prospects on a yearly basis, the Bucks’ level of attention to all things G League can only be set to take a jump forward too.

Such an approach may serve them well in terms of planning for future drafts, but it will also fit the challenges the organization is set to face in the years ahead.

Given the salary cap crunch the Bucks are on track to face for the foreseeable future, the importance of uncovering hidden gems and taking flyers on previously unsung pro players has maybe never been greater.

As Milwaukee looks to fill out its roster in the years ahead, they’d be in a better spot to potentially strike gold with a more finely attuned G League radar, and that’s certainly something they should be striving for given the added attention that the league is now going to require.

Ultimately, the G League’s new program may not just benefit the players, themselves, and NBA teams, but also offer a boost to the attention and levels of competition in the G League itself. Further changes in structure, and certainly enhanced contracts for existing players, may still need to come into effect for the league to reach its full potential, but this does represent progress.

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With the Bucks emerging as one of the NBA organizations that has a firm handle on how to run a G League organization, hopefully the same can prove true for how they can find advantages and get the inside track from this new prospect program.