The G League has come a long way since its original inception back in 2001 as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL).
The league initially began as a proving ground for players hoping to get to the NBA, but it was always seen as more of an afterthought. Fast-forward to the present day, and not only has it become a viable option for hopeful NBA players, but nearly every team in the NBA has a G League affiliate.
Each year, players turn down opportunities overseas in favor of staying stateside and therefore closer to the watchful eye of NBA front offices. One player who chose to do that this season is Garrett Nevels.
This is Nevels’ first year in the G League with the Agua Caliente Clippers, the affiliate of the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s already had a lengthy professional basketball career overseas, but so far he’s liked what he’s seen from the G League overall.
“I like the G League. There’s a lot of competition, high-level basketball, it’s a lot of fun,” Nevels told Ridiculous Upside. “Traveling, staying in hotels and all that, I like it so far.”
This season is a homecoming of sorts for Nevels. He is from Los Angeles and was a star at Palisades High School. He went Mt. San Antonio Community College for two years after high school where he led the team to their first-ever junior college state championship while being named MVP of the California Community College Athletic Association Tournament.
He then transferred to Hawaii to play Division 1 basketball for his final two years of college eligibility. He made an immediate impact for the Rainbow Warriors, becoming one of the team’s best scorers as well as a top three-point shooter.
After college, his professional journey has taken him to Spain where he played for Albacete of the Liga EBA, Forca Lleida of the LEB Oro, and Gipuzkoa Basket of Liga ACB, as well as Italy where he played for Pallacanestro Reggiana of the Italian Lega Basket Serie A.
Having played four years already in Europe, he has a solid understanding of what overseas basketball is like. Compared to the G League, he believes there is one stark difference.
“In the style of play, overseas is definitely more team-oriented. It’s a little different in the G League,” Nevels said. “People want to showcase their abilities, that’s the main difference.”
In addition to his experience overseas, Nevels comes home to LA every summer to play in the Drew League. The Drew has become one of the premier summer pro leagues and it routinely attracts some of the top professional, college, and even high school players not only in the LA area but nationally as well.
It’s a place where Nevels has been able to sharpen his game and help prepare him not only for his overseas opportunities but for his G League opportunity as well. This past summer, he had a 56 point game.
“The competition at the Drew is good as well. You have a lot of high-level players. Of course, there’s good teams and bad teams just like any other league,” Nevels said. “Playing overseas helped me a lot. I learned how to scout teams better. If we do things on the game plan, I’m able to pick it up a lot faster, things like that.”
This season, Nevels played in 33 games for Agua Caliente including four starts and 18.6 minutes per game. In that time, he put up 5.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.2 steals. He shot 43.1 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the three-point line.
He had a 22 point performance back in November against the Sioux Falls Skyforce and he had a game with five steals back in January against the Raptors 905. Throughout the season, he’s shown not only an ability to score, but he is a strong defensive player as well.
Before the G League season was abruptly halted earlier this month due to COVID-19, he planned to put himself under the eyes of NBA teams.
“I just want to show what I can do. I could have went overseas but I chose to stay home and play here,” Nevels said. “I’m just looking to showcase what I can do and hopefully get an NBA contract one day.”
It’s unclear at this point what will happen with the 2019-20 G League season. The league, along with the NBA, is on temporary hiatus until further notice.
In any case, Nevels is confident that he has what it takes to one day play in the NBA.
“I can bring hard work and hustle. I know I can score the ball too and play defense, I’m an all-around player,” Nevels said. “I don’t have just one thing that I can do. I feel like I can help a team win at the end of the day.”