By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the prospect who has turned heads with his decision to skip college and enter the G-League draft. If not, that prospect is Darius Bazley, out of Cincinnati, Ohio. The former Syracuse commit has decided to take an alternate route to the NBA by playing in the G-League for a year before entering the NBA. Bazely’s decision has not been without controversy though, many don’t see the move as a benefit to Bazely. Bazely has since wrote about his decision via the Players Tribune, detailing how he came to his decision and why he feels it’s the best step for him going forward. You can check out the column here.
Reasons why going to G-League makes sense
-Playing in a professional setting
Making the jump to the G-League will expose Bazely to playing in a professional setting that he would not get in college. He will now be interacting with grown men on a daily basis and that will help him mature faster than he would on a college campus with a host of distractions that most people his age face. There will be times where he may not see eye to eye with his teammates and coaches and will have to learn how to compromise and do what’s best for the team. At the prep level, being one of the talented players affords you the ability to get away with a lot of things. This is even more evident in college as well. Going to the G-League puts Bazely at the bottom of the totem pole where he will have to prove himself and earn the respect of his teammates and opponents.
-Get an accurate measuring of where his skills are compared to other pros
While college is a step up from the high school level, nothing beats playing with other NBA players, even if they’re in the G-League. The G-League runs similar sets and schemes that the teams in the NBA use so this will be better preparation for Bazely as he gets to digest an NBA offense and learn defense rotations that would not have been taught to him in college. If his goal is to play professionally as soon as possible, what better way to see where your skills are than playing against the Pros? He will also get harsh criticism that he can use to help fine tune his game. With the level of scouting done at the NBA, Bazely will have a clearer understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.
-Learn the life of a Pro basketball player
Probably the biggest benefit of this jump will be that Bazely will learn life on and off the court in the NBA. He will be getting paid, although not what he would make if he was drafted to the NBA, but he will earn a salary. He will have to learn how to budget the money as well as invest in his body more. He will also learn time management, this is key as now he will officially be a professional. Everything he does now will be under a microscope and he will have to take into account how one small action can affect his professional image.
-Provide top prospects with an alternative route to NBA
If Bazely’s jump to the G-League is a successful one, many more prospects down the line could take a similar route. This would benefit the G-League more than anyone else. First, the G-league would have a wealth of fresh talent that could help grow the league and earn them more TV time. Second, The NCAA would also benefit. Theoretically, more top prospects forgoing the one and done route could cut down on the amount of scandals that we’ve seen involving prized recruits the past few years eliminating negative attention for the NCAA.
Reason why going to G-League does not make sense
-Risk of injury
This risk is apparent in college too but to suffer an injury in the G-League could scare potential teams and the risk may be too severe for a team to warrant a roster spot with the volatility of the players going up and down between the NBA and G-League. At least at the college level, a player who suffers a season ending injury could medically red-shirt and have the chance to come back next season. An injury is a huge risk considering Bazely only intends to be there for one year.
-Underwhelming performance in G-league
If Bazely doesn’t perform well, would this make other teams hesitant to take a chance on future prospects who decide to jump straight from High School to the G-league? This is something that can vary depending on the player but the question will be raised if Bazely gets exposed.
-Lack of exposure
Would you be able to tell me who the G-League rookie of the year was this season? Or the two teams currently playing the G-League finals? No? I wouldn’t blame you at all. The G-League has definitely made strides in growing and creating a league of NBA hopefuls. It is still in the early stages of becoming what the NCAA is, which is an opportunity to be seen by people other than scouts. Ultimately, the scouts are who truly matter, but to have a highlight play on ESPN or a breakout performance during the tournament can really boost a players stock for the draft. That’s not the case with the G-League at this point in time. Even if Bazely performs out of his mind, it may go unnoticed and that could limit his stock come draft time because not many will be familiar with what he has done compared to others who get more attention from the NCAA.
-Is Bazely ready?
Is Bazely ready to play a schedule similar to the NBA? With back to back games, arriving at four and five in the morning, shoot arounds, the ups and downs of playing in the G-League? Long bus rides to and from games? These will be some things that he will have to go through and unlike other G-League players, he won’t have the ability to go up and down between the leagues starting out. Will he be able to stay with it when the times get tough? Is Bazely mentally ready for the grind of a professional season?
My opinion on the matter is why not? There is no right or wrong answer, so I am all for him giving it a try. In the end, it can be a learning experience for everyone involved and may give more answers as to what should be done going forward. I wish Bazely the best of luck and look forward to following his journey!