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The Importance Of G League Tryouts

While team tryouts aren’t on the top of the list when building a G League team, the tryouts are another avenue for players to carve out their path.

New York Knicks v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

There are multiple ways NBA G League teams build their 12-man roster. Teams consist of two two-way players, affiliate players, returning players, and G League draftees. Another way for players to get their foot in the door is a team tryout.

Team tryouts are different for each organization. Some G League organizations have open tryouts, which players pay a fee to get a chance to make an impression in front of team personnel. Other teams hold private tryouts. Players can be classified as a tryout player even if that player doesn’t attend the team’s tryout, as long as he completes and submits his tryout form, according to an NBA G League Assistant General Manager (h/t Dakota Schmidt of Ridiculous Upside).

While it is rare for G League tryout players to make an NBA roster, there have been success stories written in the NBA’s minor league. A tryout in the G League gives players another way to get their foot in the door under the NBA’s umbrella with the hopes of securing an opportunity in the Association.

Jonathon Simmons tried out with the Austin Spurs in 2013 and continued to hone his craft then earned a call-up with the San Antonio Spurs and signed a three-year, $20 million contract with the Orlando Magic in 2017. David Nwaba tried out for the South Bay Lakers (then Los Angeles D-Fenders) and earned a promotion to the NBA in his rookie season and spent his four-year career with four different teams. Billy Garrett, who spent two seasons with the Westchester Knicks, made the 2017-18 roster through a team tryout then earned an NBA call-up in his second season.

355 players were on G League opening night rosters to start the 2019-20 season, which included 17 assignment and two draft rights players. Most of the rosters are filled with two-way players, affiliate players, and returners & players acquired via trade. 37 G League roster spots were from team tryouts.

105 players have suited up in the Dub Knicks’ blue and orange the past six seasons, while only nine players have made opening night roster through a team tryout. Those players were CJ Giles, Sean Marshall, Jaylen Bond, Anthony Kent, Devon Baulkman, Billy Garrett, Jordan Henriquez, Gyorgy Goloman, and Kendall Smith.

Here’s a chart of total stats from tryout players who played for Westchester.

Garrett, Baulkman, Goloman, Bond, and Henriquez each played at least 35 games with Westchester, while each player made a contribution in the season they suited up with the team.

Billy Garrett saw his role change over the course of his tenure with the Dub Knicks and he continued to be a productive player. Garrett is the franchise’s leading scorer and is fourth in assists. After a solid two seasons in Westchester, he earned an NBA call-up in April of 2019.

Garrett detailed the importance of the team tryout, which led him to having a successful career in Westchester.

“It’s humbling. It’s humbling to know that I came from an open tryout to being the all-time leading scorer with the franchise,” Garrett said in February of 2019. “It’s something that I think about every day that keeps me going. Keeps me focused. Keeps me locked in. It’s something that I will carry with me throughout my career.”

After a four-year collegiate career at UCLA, Gyorgy Goloman started his professional career in the NBAGL. He tried out with Westchester and made the 2018-19 opening night roster. Goloman played in 51 games (including postseason game) as a rookie and made an impact with his ability to stretch the floor and his versatility to play the four and five.

Goloman discussed how the tryout gave him an opportunity to showcase his skills in the G League.

“I think for a player like me, I just have to go out there and give great effort and show everybody what I got,” Goloman said in November of 2018. “I think that’s really what it’s all about. Just showcasing yourself in training camp and showing that you can play hard. You can do the things that you can do and obviously eventually I made the cut.”

An opportunity is all a player can ask for and that’s what a team tryout provides. A team tryout gives players another avenue to get their foot in the door and start their career, while remaining in proximity to the NBA.