Why did Jalen Green jump from high school to the NBA’s minor league, a path nobody took last year?
Because the offer improved substantially from $125,000.
California high school star Jalen Green, the No. 1 prospect in the 2020 ESPN 100, is making the leap to a reshaped NBA professional pathway program — a G League initiative that will pay elite prospects $500,000-plus and provide a one-year development program outside of the minor league’s traditional team structure, sources told ESPN.
The NBA’s talks remain stalled with the National Basketball Players Association on an agreement to end the one-and-done draft model, leaving this revamped pro pathway program as a bridge to what is believed will be the eventual elimination of the rule requiring American players to wait a year after high school graduation before entering the draft.
Green is committing to become part of a yearlong developmental program with G League oversight that will include professional coaching, top prospects and veteran players who will combine training and exhibition competitions against the likes of G League teams, foreign national teams and NBA academies throughout the world, sources said.
The season could include 10 to 12 games against G League teams that wouldn’t count in standings, sources said. The primary objective will be assimilation and growth into the NBA on several levels — from playing to the teaching of life skills.
The “Select Team” will play a reduced schedule of about 20 games, sources said, which is much fewer than the league’s 50-game schedule.
The G League is also offering Green a full scholarship if he wants to obtain his college degree.
This is how it should work. The market determined the NBA’s minor-league offer wasn’t good enough. So, the league improved it – both financially and with work conditions. Now, players are signing.
College teams can’t compete. They’re bound by the NCAA’s cartel to cap compensation at a scholarship plus cost of living.
Isaiah Todd, who also turned pro out of high school, will join Green in this new venture.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Five-star prospect Isaiah Todd, who decommitted from Michigan, is expected to sign an NBA G League deal and join the new Southern California team featuring Jalen Green, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 16, 2020
Green and Todd (who isn’t quite as highly ranked but is also a lottery candidate for the 2021 NBA draft) will earn different salaries, according to Charania.
Both will enjoy this developmental opportunity without facing a full schedule of more-experienced minor-leaguers – a real concern for anyone considering this route. The NBA’s minor league is full of former college stars. It’d be hard for an 18-year-old just to walk into that environment.
Green and Todd will be test cases for this new track to the NBA. It looks appealing on paper – at least until the NBA lowers its age limit. If this works for them, expect many other players to follow.
Already headed that direction, college basketball would almost have to loosen its amateurism restrictions.
These were big decisions for Green and Todd personally. The ramifications could extend far wider.