The NBA still bans players jumping from straight from high school to the NBA.
The NBA’s minor league does not. In fact, the minor league is offering a $125,000 salary specifically to entice top high school recruits.
Nobody took the deal last season, the first year it was offered. Kevin Durant and Emmanuel Mudiay said they wouldn’t have gone that route if it were available. Top American players who wanted to turn pro – LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton – instead went to Australia’s National Basketball League, which also has a special program to lure graduating high schoolers.
So, Jalen Green will be a trendsetter.
Jonathan Givony of ESPN:
Ahead of a 1pm eastern formal announcement, Jalen Green has started to inform college suitors that he plans to enter the NBA/G League's professional pathway program, sources tell ESPN. He is ESPN's #1 prospect in the 2020 high school class.
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 16, 2020
This is risky.
Green will get more money than he would playing college basketball. Probably. At minimum, this is over the table.
He’ll also get professional experience. College basketball grooms players for the NBA. This program is designed to groom players for the NBA.
But that cuts both ways. Green will face far better competition against older and better minor-league players.
He’ll also get far less exposure in a little-watched league. College basketball draws major viewers and would’ve given Green more ability to build his brand. On the other hand, he can cash in sooner, signing endorsement deals now.
Will this be good for Green overall? Tough to say. There’s no precedent. Presumably, he weighed all the pros and cons and made the best decision for him. Hopefully, he made the right call.