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How The NBA G League Professional Path Program Will Work

Dakota Schmidt gives a thorough breakdown how the NBA G League Professional Path program will work.

2018 McDonald’s All American Game Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On late Thursday morning, the NBA G League made shock waves in the basketball world as they introduced a comprehensive professional path meant to attract elite high school prospects. These Select Contracts would go out to players that are 18 years old but not yet eligible for the NBA Draft. Starting during the 2019-20 season, players that sign robust opportunities for development and would pay them $125,000 for the five-month season. That contract is a gigantic improvement on the $35,000 that regular G Leaguers will make for the 2018-19 season.

Aside from that eye-popping salary, players on these Select Contracts will have additional benefits to help ready themselves before the G League season begins in November. According to a Q&A with G League president Malcolm Turner, the league will be “building a calendar of basketball development opportunities” that will start in the summer before they move to the G League.

Those chances include participating in one of the various NBA academies or in the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. That last example will teach that player about hydration, recovery, training and nutrition which would help improve the young player’s bodies so they’re ready to compete against older G League veterans. In addition to that, they participate in events during the NBA Summer League. Although they won’t be eligible to actually play in the Summer League tournament, Turner foresees that players will be able to take part in different basketball workout events around Las Vegas during those festivities.

After the conclusion of those summer activities, those prospects would of course be eligible for the G League. However, rather than participating in the standard G League Draft like other prospects, prospects with a Select Contract will be thrown in a lottery or draft for teams that are interested. Once they make it onto the G League team, they’ll be a standard player that get a chance to play in games and practices.

Before that process even occurs, the G League will have to determine which high school prospects would quality to receive those Select Contracts. Although this process is obviously still in the early stages, Turner noted that the league would be putting together a group that would identify “elite” talent in terms of both on-court performance and their preparedness to physically match up against G League talent. This team would be made up of individuals that have experience working in basketball development and talent evaluation.

Once that task force of evaluators chose which players are picked to receive those Select Contracts, the interested prospects would go to a program manager. That person will be put to the task of educating those high school prospects, their families and advisers on the professional path system and how it actually works. According to Turner, that program manager position should be filled in a matter of weeks as they’re looking for someone that’s both smart about the ins and outs of the NBA business and also has a enthusiasm for development.

Although it’s yet to be seen who will be part of the committee or how many prospects will decide to sign Select Contracts, it’s clear that Turner and company has put together a solid outline of how this G League Professional Path program will work. To start, a group of talent evaluators and people with experience in basketball development will select high school prospects based on-court skills and overall readiness for the G League.

Following that selection process, a program manager will guide the young man, his family and advisers through learning how this program works. Afterwards, they’ll get to spend the summer competing in different NBA-related activities while also becoming better athletes at the Gatorade Sports Institute.

Finally, the players with Select Countries will be entered into a draft pool of interested G League squads that will select them to play in that G League season. Of course, the remainder of that prospect’s journey will be within the hands of himself as he prepares for the following year’s NBA Draft.