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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Denver Nuggets
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Who are the Grand Rapids Drive?

The franchise now known as the Grand Rapids Drive first began back in 2006 as part of the NBA D-League. They were called the Anaheim Arsenal back then, and they served as an affiliate squad to four different NBA teams. In 2009, they moved to Springfield and became the Armor.

In 2011, the Brooklyn Nets made the Springfield Armor their exclusive affiliate team, which made the Armor just the second team from the developmental league to get such a deal from an NBA club. In 2014, the team was bought and moved to Grand Rapids, where they entered into a single-franchise affiliate agreement with the Detroit Pistons.

Then, last year, the Pistons decided to buy the Northern Arizona Suns from the Phoenix Suns and relocate them to Michigan, leaving the Drive without an NBA partner. That’s where the Denver Nuggets came in, and considering this is Denver’s first foray into the G League, they could not have found a better franchise to partner with.

Grand Rapids has built up a bit of a reputation as a hub for minor league sports, with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the MLB’s Detroit Tigers also housing affiliate outfits in the city. It’s the second-biggest market in Michigan (just under 1.1 million people in the metro area) and that hefty population was not shy about supporting their G League team.

The Drive were consistently perched in the top five in the league’s attendance rankings since arriving in the Great Lake State and were averaging 4,000 fans per night before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to That may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that many G League teams see no more than a few hundred fans for any given contest, it’s quite a feat.

Based on their popularity, you can probably guess what kind of success the Drive have had since their move to Michigan. Most recently, they went a combined 53-40 over their past two full campaigns, narrowly missing the playoff tournament by a single game in each season.

Steve Jbara, who leads the team of investors that owns the Grand Rapids Drive, is excited for what this next chapter alongside the Denver Nuggets will provide.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce our partnership with Denver and am excited to welcome the Nuggets to Michigan and the Grand Rapids family,” said Jbara, according to

“This partnership is a true testament to the Nuggets’ commitment to development and we’re so happy to be able to help the team continue those initiatives in Grand Rapids for years to come.”