The world we live in is as fast as ever, not only with technology and social media but even with things like the pursuit of a dream or career. Specifically in the basketball community, there has been an ongoing struggle between the NBA, NCAA, and professional prospects. Nearly sixteen years removed from the last high school prospect going straight to the NBA (Dwight Howard), a loophole has finally been discovered. On Thursday, Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd committed to go play in the G-League (the NBA’s developmental league) instead of in college or overseas. Aside from the location or dollar amount, why is this the smart option?
Well, there are multiple answers. For starters, we should look at the original trailblazer for this idea, Darius Bazley, and how his decisions allowed for guys like Green and Todd to follow in suit. After de-committing from Syracuse, Bazley was determined to find a way to make money and set himself up for years to come. He achieved both objectives with flying colors, joining the G-League, becoming a major client for New Balance, and ultimately getting drafted in the first round while already getting professional experience under his belt. It was the first of a new thing and, although it sounds cheesy, Bazley walked so these guys could run.
As far as Green and Todd are concerned, this is almost guaranteed to pay immediate dividends for both players. Green has a chance to be considered for the top overall pick in next year’s draft, assuming he’s able to maintain the sheer dominance we’ve seen for the past few years. He actually benefits from playing in the G-League as opposed to in college or overseas because his game is tailor-made for the professional ranks. Green possesses size, skill, athleticism, craftiness, versatility, and can legitimately do everything at an elite level. Though not quite as dominant, Todd falls under the same umbrella. His tools and mentality should actually do better in the professional game than they would in college. Todd’s biggest obstacle is still learning how to utilize all of his natural gifts at a consistent rate. However, once he understands his own abilities and learns how to mercilessly destroy opponents, Todd should find himself in lottery-contention as well.
Ironically, the most intriguing part about signing these deals is the clause that will allow these guys to still get enough money for a full education. Doing this basically removes the incentive of college for the group of players capable enough to jump directly to the NBA, as they will get to have their cake and eat it too. This opportunity gives them the chance to remain local, collect a lot of money, still receive a college education, and get to compete in one of the top leagues in the entire world. Although many eyes have been on Lamelo Ball and RJ Hampton, this method makes it even easier to properly scout for the draft.
So, what does all this mean for the future? Well, it feels like this trend will probably continue until the NBA owners and NBAPA come to an agreement to allow kids to go straight from high school to the draft. In all honesty, these guys are incredibly smart to utilize their resources and pursue the most appealing avenue for their eventual path to the NBA. Only time will tell, but Green and Todd should be pure entertainment for all types of basketball fans throughout the next calendar year.