Country: United States
Location: America
Demography: 332M (2020)
Spoken language: English
Largest cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix

How does the G-League work?

The NBA G-League, known simply as the G-League, is an American minor basketball league created and run by the National Basketball Association (NBA). in minor basketball. Known as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL) since its creation, from 2001 to 2005, and the NBA Development League (NBA D-League) from 2005 to 2017, it is following a sponsorship deal with the brand Gatorade that this league was renamed G-League.

The G-League has recently changed its format. Its teams compete in different phases, starting with a first tournament: the Showcase Cup. Each team, divided into four regional groups (North, South, East, West), plays 12 games. The top 8 teams (i.e., the top team in each group followed by the top four teams in terms of win-loss record) advance to the NBA G-League Winter Showcase, a single-elimination playoff tournament with the winner and runners-up competing for a trophy and a monetary prize pool.

After that, the clock resets and the regular season begins, in November, with no less than 36 games per team on the schedule. At the end, the top six teams in each conference with the best winning-percentage will earn their ticket to the G-League Playoffs, which will have a traditional format.

How do teams and NBA affiliations work in the G-League?

If, at its inception, the G-League started with only eight teams, it did not take long for it to grow. Former NBA commissioner David Stern quickly announced a plan to expand the league to fifteen teams and continued to develop it as a true minor league system, with teams affiliated with NBA teams. As of the 2020-2021 season, the G-League recently expanded to 30 teams, 28 of which are affiliated with an NBA franchise. The other two (which only participate in preseason tournaments and not the regular season) are the Mexico City Capitals and the G-League Ignite, a club that brings together young talent.

Ownership models vary within the NBA G-League. There are two types of affiliation. The most common is the individual affiliation, in which the NBA team fully owns and operates its NBA G-League team. The second type, which is becoming less common due to the increasing willingness of NBA organizations to invest in the G-League, is the "hybrid" affiliation, in which the NBA team manages and finances the basketball operations while the local owner retains control of the team's business and community relations.

The goal for NBA teams investing in their NBA G-League affiliates is nothing less than to develop some of the young talent, while allowing some of the players to get back on track, all in an environment that is very similar to the biggest basketball league in the United States. So much so that NBA teams often install the same offensive and defensive systems within their G-League teams.

Players and their contracts, how does it work?

Note that each team must be able to field a roster of at least 10 players, which can be expanded to 13 players if its parent club assigns players from the NBA roster. Players who sign standard one-year G-League contracts with the league, not with individual teams, do so through one of nine possible avenues:

  • NBA teams can assign players to their NBA G-League affiliate and recall them at any time.
  • NBA teams can sign players to “two-way contracts” (possible only for players with four years or less of NBA seniority, who will spend the majority of the season in the G-League and no more than 45 days with their NBA team), allowing them to retain their rights while the player spends most of the season in the NBA G-League.
  • NBA teams can draft players and have them sign NBA G-League contracts, retaining their rights through the "Draft Rights Player" rule.
  • NBA teams can designate up to four players they drafted during training camp as "affiliate players," meaning those players will join the NBA G-League affiliate team (if they choose to sign in the NBA G-League).
  • NBA G-League teams hold local tryouts each offseason and may invite up to four players from those tryouts to their training camps.
  • The NBA G-League holds an annual draft (which lasts four rounds and in which each team is limited to two picks) of nearly 150 players who have signed contracts with the league.
  • Players returning to the NBA G-League are, as a matter of principle, reacquired by the teams they played for in the last two seasons (Returning Players).
  • Once the NBA G-League season begins, players who sign a contract are placed in a rotating waiver pool for teams to claim.
  • If a high school, college or foreign player enters the NBA G-League without ever declaring for the NBA Draft, he will also join the waiver pool. That player remains eligible for the NBA Draft but cannot be called up to the NBA.

Which team has won the title the most times in the NBA G-League?

The Rio Grande Valley Vipers are the most successful team in the NBA G-League with four titles (2010, 2013, 2019, 2022). Affiliated in a hybride partnership with the Houston Rockets since the 2009-2010 season, they are also the most successful championship series team in league history, having reached the finals six times. 

Some of the rules for NBA G League games are different from those for NBA games. Which ones? 

The NBA uses the G-League as a testing ground for new rules each season. For example, beginning with the 2019-2020 season, the NBA G-League has implemented the single free throw rule. During the first 46 minutes of a game, all free throw situations result in only one free throw, which is worth the value of the total free throws allowed (either one, two or three points). During the last two minutes of a game, as well as during any overtime, the standard NBA free throw rules apply.

Other so-called experimental rules have been introduced in NBA G-League games, such as intentional fouls on transition play, which allow the fouled team to choose any player in the game to shoot a free throw before retaining the ball for another possession.