The Portland Trail Blazers announced they’re joining the rest of the league (other than the Pistons) in operating a G-League team. They will use the University of Portland to play games while practicing at the Blazers facility. G-League teams are essential to the development of the players as well as the overall success of the franchise. Let’s look at why having a G-League team is beneficial.
First up, let’s talk about player development. The G-League provides an excellent platform for young players to gain valuable playing time and experience. By assigning these players to the G-League, NBA teams can help them develop their skills and build confidence. And when they’re finally called up to the big leagues, they will be more prepared to contribute to the team’s success. For example, some NBA teams have used their G-League affiliates to develop young players who have become critical contributors at the NBA level. Take Toronto Raptors’ G-League affiliate, the Raptors 905, as an example. That G-League team played a crucial role in the development of Fred VanVleet, who became a key player for the Raptors in their championship-winning season in 2019. Similarly, the Golden State Warriors G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, helped to develop players like Kent Bazemore and Quinn Cook, who went on to play essential roles in the Warriors’ championship runs.
The G-League is an excellent place for NBA teams to scout talent. By monitoring the progress of their players and other G-League players, teams can identify potential stars who may have gone unnoticed otherwise. And let’s not forget, the G-League is also a great testing ground for new strategies and tactics, which NBA teams can evaluate and refine before implementing them on the main roster. Some NBA teams have used their G-League affiliations to experiment with new strategies and tactics that they later executed at the NBA level. For example, the Houston Rockets used their G-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, to experiment with a high-volume three-point shooting strategy that they later brought to the NBA level and helped to revolutionize the league.
Having a G-League team increases roster flexibility as well. By assigning players to the G-League, NBA teams can free up roster spots for other players or make room for new acquisitions. This gives teams more flexibility to manage their workload and reduces the risk of injuries.
Most importantly, team chemistry plays a role in having a G-League team. The G-League can help NBA teams build a cohesive team culture and develop chemistry between players. This is especially important for young players who are still adjusting to the NBA game and the lifestyle of being a pro athlete. By building that chemistry in the G-League, NBA teams can set themselves up for success in the long run.
There are multiple benefits to having a G-League team. While you can’t directly correlate the success of a franchise to having a G-League team, it’s crucial to the player development, scouting, and flexibility of its NBA team. Also, it allows fans to watch some rising superstars at a family-friendly price.