The path to the NBA has involved college basketball for so long that it is hard to remember a time when players simply tried out for a professional team. As a country we’ve grown to love college basketball almost as much as the professional level. The March Madness tournament every year brings in millions of dollars for the NCAA and fans all across the country and even across the world tune in.
When we think about it logically it doesn’t really make sense to combine college and a basketball league that feeds into the NBA. There’s no need for the two to intersect. In fact, in many countries they don’t. And now in America, we may start seeing the decline of college basketball and more and more players opting to play in the G League.
The G League
The G League is a league for players who are not quite ready to play at the NBA level. We find all sorts of players in the G League. It is basically the minor leagues for basketball. Some players played in college but didn’t get drafted to play for an NBA team. Some players come out of high school. Some players are recruited by NBA teams but are not good enough so are left to mature at the lower level. And some G Leaguers are NBA players that are rehabbing after injuries.
Every club in the NBA has a G League team. They function as a farm system that NBA teams can pull from if need be.
Changes To The G League
It may sound enticing to play professional basketball at any level. But the typical G League salary is only about $25,000 a year. So as it stands now, the only incentive for players to sign a G League contract is the hopes of one day making it to the NBA.
But starting in 2019, the G League is offering contracts of $125,000 to the best prospects. So instead of going to college and playing the mandatory year before entering the NBA draft, players can choose to spend their mandatory post-high school year getting paid in the G League.
Major Benefits To Signing A G League Contract
There’s more at stake here than $125,000. If a player plays in college, the NCAA can profit from sales of their jersey. Video game manufacturers can use their likenesses for free in their games. And because NCAA players are considered armatures, they are prohibited from profiting from endorsement deals.
So a player in the G League can not only avoid being exploited by the NCAA, they can hire their own agent and make money by doing commercials, selling merchandise, partnering with athletic clothing brands, or anything else that might come their way through fame and success on the basketball court.
The Future Of The G League
It’s hard to predict how well the G League can compete with college basketball. The NCAA still has a good reputation and many kids grow up dreaming of playing in college. But the prospect of earning money out of high school instead of seeing that money go to a large organization like the NCAA is intriguing. More than that, it just makes sense. By comparison, the benefits of playing in the G League more than outweigh those of playing in college.
But only the best prospects are offered the maximum contracts to play in the G League. So players not offered enough money or not good enough for the G League still have to go the traditional route through the NCAA. So we might be a long ways away from ending the exploitation that goes on in college basketball.