Milwaukee Bucks: The G League is changing right before our eyes

OSHKOSH, WI - DECEMBER 1: (Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/NBAE via Getty Images)
OSHKOSH, WI - DECEMBER 1: (Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The state of the G League is changing right before our eyes during this season stoppage, and more investment from teams like the Milwaukee Bucks will be required.

The Milwaukee Bucks, and the NBA at large, continue to sit on the sidelines as it relates to the 2019-20 season being disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the immediate future remains murky at best in resuming action, the NBA has kept its eye on the future, and have broadened out their already global footprint by establishing a new pathway for young basketball players to rise and enter the league. Look no further than the recent events going on with the G League.

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Last month, the G League made waves as Jalen Green, a projected top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft class, signed a $500,000 contract with the G League to bypass the traditional college and one-and-done route.

Both Isaiah Todd and UCLA recruit Daishen Nix have since followed Green to further fill out the G League’s Select Team and establish the league’s revamped professional pathway to lure high-profile amateur players away from the NCAA or going overseas like to the NBL as we’ve seen in the cases of Terrance Ferguson and 2020 projected lottery picks, Lamelo Ball and R.J. Hampton.

Even after these commitments, there are still plenty of questions regarding the viability of this new path as they continue working out the logistics and how valuable this new way of developing highly rated prospects coming out of high school as it’s supposed to be intended, at least initially. Still, the alternative to the tried-and-true pathway has now officially made its proverbial entry into the ring as the G League and the NBA has envisioned for some time now.

While this has gone on, G League players and veterans have continued to take steps in unionizing as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on last weekend.

Forming a player’s union has long been rumored to be in the works on the G League level and as Wojnarowski noted in his report, the National Basketball Players Association has taken a hand in forming the union that will need more than 50 percent of players’ approval.

Given the great disparity of travel and housing conditions as well as in players’ pay between the NBA and the G League, this development has long been overdue for G League players. The Athletic’s Shams Charania already reported Friday afternoon that G League teams will be responsible for having individual hotel rooms for all players starting next season.

Yes, to call such a development an “improvement” may seem like the bare minimum for some, but it’s just the start of the types of things that G League players will soon be able to collectively bargain with both the NBA and the G League, should the union ultimately be approved.

After all, while the G League’s push to attract players of Green, Nix and Todd’s profile from the high school level will be key in growing the profile of the league itself and that particular avenue, being able to take care and support the vast majority of players that are just trying to achieve their dream of playing in the NBA still remains paramount.

The health of the G League, and trying to move it forward to where it stands on par with non-NBA leagues around the world, is solely built on supporting players that were overlooked in high school and/or college, went undrafted or want a second chance in the NBA, etc.

There’s a certain unspoken pledge that G League players make when they want to stay stateside and be able to grow and develop their game with any of the 28 G League teams versus having the opportunity of playing overseas away from their families and support systems. To be fair, playing internationally isn’t without its own financial and professional challenges, but I digress.

Still, the very low pay and many accommodations that are in place for G League players are things that many players fresh out of college have to come to terms with as they enter the professional ranks and continue playing the sport they love.

Investing in the hundreds of G League players that pass on through each and every year with basic necessities and more reasonable pay will only make the league more attractive for players fighting for their dream while being so close to the NBA. And it may even lure some players back to the United States that have made nice livings for the prestigious leagues across Europe, Asia and so on.

The recent ventures the G League have officially undertaken has certainly sent a shock to the basketball development system that exists in North America and there will be an interest level in seeing how it works that clearly didn’t exist before.

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But plenty of work still remains in being able to support the very players that are the biggest reason why the G League exists in the first place.