The NBA G-League, formerly known as D-League, is the NBA’s developmental system, and has been for some time. Each NBA team has a G-League team, much like the MLB and their developmental farm system, except a lot smaller. As the controversy surrounding collegiate basketball players and whether they should skip college, or go to college continues, people have thrown out the possibility of the G-League serving the same purpose as the MLB farm system, which is to grow and develop players and prepare them for the NBA. So the question is: Is it better for a player to go to college or go to the G-League?
In my opinion, any high-level basketball player that has a shot of going to the NBA should go to college. College basketball is way more popular than the G-League, it is watched by more people, and it has a bigger stage with conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament. There is the argument for the student athletes getting paid, which I do believe that all student athletes should be paid. The NBA G-Leagues average salary was recently increased from $26,000 to $35,000 per season, with two-way players making about $385,000. $35,000 is not enough for a person to live off of, especially in the G-League, where not everything is paid for, like in the NBA. Even former Kentucky forward Derek Willis, who is currently playing in the G-League, said the pay was “horrible,” and that his time at Kentucky was much better.
Any high-level division one program has more exclusive catering, travel, clothing, sponsors and fan support than any G-League team has. College teams have flights to each game, while G-League teams only fly to games if it’s a cross-country game. Food is catered to them before and after each game, by the best chefs and restaurants that the city has to offer, and the facilities that a college team such as Kentucky, Duke, Kansas or UNC use are top of the line faculties compared to the, would could be called, YMCA gyms that the G-League uses. Should be a no-brainer, right? Which team have you heard of? The University of Kentucky or the Delaware 87ers?
The first top-level recruit to bypass college for the G-League is 2018 recruit and McDonald’s All-American Darius Bazley, who was previously committed to Syracuse University for the upcoming season but has since opted to bypass his college eligibility to play in the G-League and make minimum wage. The main goal for all these athletes is to help their families, but making around minimum wage for one year is not better than spending one year at a high-level school, where you have the potential to make over $1,000,000 the very next year.
I have always been an advocate for athletes going and getting their money and making as much as they can while playing the game they love, but Bazley’s decision could influence future top recruits to go to the G-League, even though attending a college for a year is far better than the G-League. College prepares you for the NBA, going against potential lottery picks, if you go to a top tier school. The G-League has guys who are probably part-time cashiers at Walgreens.
Overall, I believe that top level recruits should go to college, as I feel this benefits them in the long-run and for their future in the NBA. Making only $35,000 is not worth it, and the benefits of going to college far outweigh the G-League.