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, Mike Malone
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Denver Nuggets: What does this mean for player development?

There is a bevy of benefits for a team when they join into an affiliation with a G League franchise. The first and most obvious in this instance is that the Denver Nuggets don’t have to build the team up from scratch themselves, not to mention the team they acquired has been pretty darn good of late.

The G League is not only a great place for hoopers of all ages to practice the game and hone their skills while making a solid wage, but it’s also a structured environment where those who need or want them can find resources to help improve and enrich their lives off the court.

It’s a top-notch spot to develop talent not just in the player ranks, but in the coaching hierarchy as well. Coaches can learn the do’s and don’ts of their chosen craft in a much lower pressure environment while also developing the interpersonal skills necessary to lead an eclectic group of strong, young men like a pro basketball team.

Most teams like to have their affiliate squad situated nearby for proximity and simplicity of movement, but, as many of you may know, Grand Rapids isn’t exactly a breezy drive away from Denver. It’s about a three-hour flight (or a 16-hour drive if you’re feeling spicy) between the two cities.

It is not a prerequisite, however, and the ownership group led by Jbara (which, fun fact, includes NBA legend Ben Wallace) made their commitment to the city and area of Grand Rapids clear in an announcement made back in January, per The Denver Post‘s Mike Singer.

Whether they’re based somewhere in Colorado or they remain in Grand Rapids, one thing is certain: this is a huge addition for the Denver Nuggets. They now have their own player development system in place, which is crucial in this day and age of two-way contracts in the NBA.

These days, teams are signing a ton of hoopers to two-way deals—and many are taking full advantage of their opportunities. Some guys, like Golden State’s Damion Lee or Toronto’s Yuta Watanabe, have turned G League success paired with an impressive NBA audition into lucrative multi-year deals. Since the start of the 2014-2015 season, the Drive has had 10 players called up to the NBA.

As I said, it’s not just players, though. Nuggets assistant coaches John Beckett and Jordi Fernandez both have prior experience coaching in the G League. The Drive’s last head coach, Rex Walters, has now moved on to an NBA gig with the New Orleans Pelicans as well.