In the current landscape of the NBA, the G-League is a crucial stepping stone for young talents who still need to develop their game. NBA Champion and Nuggets coach Michael Malone recently spoke on the importance of the development league, emphasizing on its value and the way it prepares players for the demands of an NBA schedule.
Malone noted that certain players might perceive the G League negatively, viewing it as a step backwards. However, he believes that this mentality is wrong and players should utilize their time in the G League as an opportunity for securing real game minutes and understanding team systems.
Nuggets Coach on Peyton Watson
Malone used Peyton Watson as an example. Watson didn’t play much at the University of California Los Angeles and wasn’t playing much for the Nuggets as a rookie. He went down to the team’s affiliate Grand Rapids Gold to develop and evolved into a player averaging 20 points per game. Now, he’s a key piece to Denver’s rotation and he’s still only 21 years old.
”Some young players frown on the G League,” Malone said. ”They think about it as ‘Oh, I’m being sent to the G League’, when they should be looking at it as an opportunity.
Peyton Watson didn’t play much last year. He needed to go play basketball. He needed real game minutes that you can’t replicate in practice. I think the G League is a great teaching tool for every young player. Let them go play and show them what pro basketball is like and fully understand the system that they’ve been drafted into.”
Watson seized the opportunity to keep getting better during his time in the G-League and he’s proved to be able to contribute to a team with championship aspirations. His growth has been nothing but remarkable, transforming from a player struggling for playing time to a key member of Denver’s rotation.
This year, there’s been 15 first round picks from the 2023 NBA Draft who have been sent down to the G League, including names like fourth overall pick Amen Thompson, Gradey Dick, Jarace Walker and Summer League MVP Cam Whitmore. This shows how much trust NBA teams have in their affiliate teams.
As demonstrated by Peyton Watson’s success story, embracing the opportunities that the G League provides, can pave the way for a remarkable career in the NBA.