Jeff Gravley

NBA draft picks, you may see some G League action!

Posted June 20

Breaking news: Not all of the 30 first-round draft picks Thursday night will play in the NBA this year. Some need more development than others, so where do they go?

The NBA announced more details of their new G League, which replaces the D League. G is for the partnership with Gatorade, but it's more than a 3-letter upgrade. Gatorade is providing players with the opportunity to work with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, which will help players research and educate how to maximize their bodies.

But the financial incentives top the list of improvements of the G League.

Like the NHL, some players will be given 2-way contracts, where they could play in the NBA and the G League. Two-way players could earn up to $275,000. That's a huge jump from the current D League salary range of $19,000-$25,000 for the 5-month season. NBA teams will be able to have two players on 2-way contracts. They would play primarily in the G League but could be on the NBA team's active list for up to 45 days during the regular season.

Young players who sit on NBA benches can't get all they need to improve in limited practices and shoot-arounds. They need to play. In the 2016-17 regular season, 92 NBA players were assigned to the D League. Some were first-round picks who never thought they would spend time in the minors of pro basketball.

For others it's a land of opportunity. Former Duke guard Quinn Cook was the D League's Rookie of the Year last season, and it earned him a couple of 10-day NBA contracts. NC State's Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie have found a living in the D League. The same can be said for a couple of lottery draft picks out of North Carolina: guard Kendall Marshall and the Tar Heels all-time leading scorer Tyler Hansbrough.

The Charlotte Hornets have their minor league squad in Greensboro, one of a record 26 teams that will make up the G League this season. The goal is to have 30 teams, one representing each NBA franchise.

With the backing of Gatorade and a more concentrated effort by the NBA, maybe the G League can be a better destination for those who need some work or those who simply aren't good enough to play in the NBA.

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