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The end of one-and-done, the G-League and changing face of development

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Adam Silver on Tuesday was very direct when asked about ending the league’s one-and-done rule, permitting high school players (and 18-year-olds worldwide) to enter the NBA Draft.

“My personal view is that we’re ready to make the change,” Silver said, careful to avoid saying that his Board of Governors ... or the NBPA, the players’ union, has approved the idea.

But it seems like the 12-year-old rule is on its way out. One-and-done was instituted because the wide open policy of letting high school student jump directly to the NBA had mixed results.

What makes Silver believe that things have changed? One very distinct possibility is the new emphasis on development in the NBA, led by (most) teams’ embrace of the G-League, formerly the D-League, the D standing for development. Having a G-League franchise (with 15 additional roster spots) a few miles away from team offices should make things easier for a GM to take a risk ... and easier for the player, too. He won’t be limited to carrying veterans’ bags, fetching snacks ... and sitting at the end of an NBA bench.

Sean Marks hinted about the changing G-League role at the Nets end-of-season press conference back in April. He spoke about how the NBA has changed its rules in recent years —and likely will again— giving the G-League new abilities.

“The fact that the G League has taken those steps now, where you’ll potentially have draft eligible candidates or players coming into the G League, you’ll have foreign guys coming into the G League early, that’s terrific,” said Marks, a former D-League GM with the Spurs. “ I give the NBA a lot of credit for they are trying to develop and tweak how we all use the G League.”

Right now, 26 of the 30 NBA teams have G-League affiliates and the Wizards will field their first development team, the Capital City Go-Go, this coming season. That would leave three teams without affiliates, the Denver Nuggets, the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans. In an e-mail to SLAM last month, G League commissioner Malcolm Turner wrote that he expects those three franchises to join the fray “within the next 12-to-18 months.”

That’s when the end of one-and-done would no doubt accelerate. In fact, there are rumors that high schoolers will be allowed back in the Draft as early as 2021. That’s also the year all NBA teams will likely field a G-League team. It doesn’t sound like a coincidence. (The NBA also hinted last December that it might want to place an unaffiliated G-League franchise in Mexico City.)

There are already rules in place that will permit young players —and not just superstars— to join G-League teams. Of course, teams can assign players with three or less years of experience to the G-League and teams are permitted to sign two two-way deals, a hybrid arrangement where players split time between the NBA and G-League, getting paid accordingly.

Teams can also draft players directly into G-League slots, a particularly ideal way for NBA teams to bring on and develop high school players. The NBA team retains its draft rights while the player gets minutes in the G-League ... and the experience of being a professional. Under certain circumstances, players can already go directly from high school to the G-League, as two top -flight stars have chosen to do this year. Darius Bazley, a 6’8” forward, and Brian Bowen, a 6’7” guard, both five star recruits, will be eligible for the G-League Draft come November. Then, after a season in the G-League, they’ll be eligible for the NBA Draft next June.

It’s all about internal development which is quickly becoming a fourth way to improve an NBA team, joining the Draft, free agency and trades. Nets fans, of course, are quite familiar with that. Joe Harris just signed a two-year $16 million contract after being dumped by two teams on the same day in 2016. The Nets have also done well with both veterans and late first round picks, from Spencer Dinwiddie to Caris LeVert.

Under Marks and Trajan Langdon, his No. 2 and Long Island Nets GM, the organization’s G-League strategy has gone from finding a diamond-in-the-rough to improving players already in the organization. They’d also like to win, of course.

“It’s a two-pronged approach,” said Langdon in an interview with the Nets official site back in March. “You want to be competitive. You want to have a good team so your young guys can develop. And for us that’s the most important thing. It’s a developmental league. We want a place where we can put our young guys, whether they be two-way developmental guys, or assignment players that go over to Long Island to play half the season, the majority of the season, four- to five-game stints.

“You want to have good players around where they can develop and they feel like, this is a place I want to come because I can compete at a level.”

Marks has also emphasized that the G-League is going to be where he develops young staff. He hired then 26-year-old Ronald Nored two years ago as head coach and 31-year-old Matt Riccardi as assistant Long Island GM.

“You’re tasked with building a roster and finding guys that fit together,” said Nored, now an assistant with the Hornets, in an interview with Ridiculous Upside. “You have tools like the Expansion Draft, G League Draft, and local tryouts. They come from different backgrounds and have different goals. It’s very challenging. We focused on creating a really well run G League organization and tried not to focus on the different variables.”

The Nets and other teams in the NBA will no doubt start planning for the re-invention of high school-to-pro. That means new scouting regimens, longer, deeper performance regimens, etc. It will be a real management challenge.

“If you take into account what the G League is for, hopefully we use that to the best of our ability and we will continue to see that grow and evolve over time,” said Marks at the press conference introducing draft picks Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs who might see some time in Long Island. “I think you’re going to see a lot of people coming through the G-League using the G League in a manner that will truly help to develop these guys.”