Denver Nuggets: What the new G-League affiliate means for development

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images /
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The rapid growth of the NBA G League over the past few years has been undeniable and the developmental league’s impact on the NBA has been quite significant as well. Now, our Denver Nuggets have joined the fray with the acquisition of their own G League outfit last week.

There is excitement at every level of the Denver Nuggets franchise right now, with the news of Denver’s third straight playoff berth following in the wake of the team’s announcement that they had (finally) acquired a G League affiliate franchise, the Grand Rapids Drive.

The team sounds like a street name, I know, but before you get all bent out of shape about it, know that there are already plans for rebranding that would include a new logo and team nickname, per The Denver Post‘s Mike Singer. Phew.

Considering that they were one of only two NBA teams—along with the Portland Trail Blazers—without a G League affiliate since 2018, Denver is actually quite late to the party. Better late than never, though.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, however. The Nuggets’ brass has been probing and making overtures to get themselves a G League affiliate for some time now, with proposals for Seattle, Las Vegas, Nashville, San Diego, and Omaha all falling flat over the years, sources told Singer.

The agreement between the Nuggets and the Drive will be of a hybrid nature, with Drive owner Steve Jbara and his group handling everything on the business side such as the team’s arena as well as sponsorships and local partnerships. The Nuggets, who bought in for approximately $9 million according to Singer, will be in charge of everything on the basketball side of operations.

That hybrid setup is used by only one other team in the league, the Houston Rockets, but there don’t seem to be many drawbacks to those straightforward partnership terms from my perspective.

One of the men that will be leading the charge in moulding Denver’s new G League squad will be Director of Basketball Operations Ben Tenzer.

Tenzer will bring a unique perspective to the process considering that back in 2006 he was tasked with evaluating the G League’s predecessor, the D-League, not only for talent but to understand the inner workings of the teams as well, he told

“I was hired in 2013 [as Director of Basketball Ops] by Josh [Kroenke] and Tim [Connelly] and that was one of the first things that was brought up. ‘You were doing a lot of the minor league stuff before, let’s focus on getting a team,’” Tenzer said to

“Sure enough, eight years later, we finally have our team and it is an incredible setup.”

But what can fans with no prior knowledge of the Grand Rapids Drive expect with this acquisition for the Denver Nuggets? First off, let’s take a look at the franchise itself.