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30th NBA Team Gets G League Affiliate

All 30 NBA teams now have G League affiliates.

The Phoenix Suns’ G League affiliate, the Tempe Valley Suns, is the 30th affiliate to partner with an NBA team. There are now 31 G League teams.

30th NBA Team Gets G League Affiliate

The Valley Suns, headquartered in Tempe, will join the Phoenix Suns organization and the G League as the 31st G League team and the 30th to partner with an NBA team. It means that, for the first time in NBA history, all NBA teams have a G League partner.

“We are excited about everything Mat Ishbia and Josh (Bartelstein) are doing with the Suns,” G League president and former NBA star Shareef Abdur-Rahim told Burns & Gambo. “When Mat and his brother (Justin) were approved as owners, one of the first calls they made was to us and telling us they wanted a team for the Suns and to develop players and coaches.”

More than half of players in the NBA have played in the G League, and several rotation players earn playing time and chances to progress by showing their skills on the G League circuit. Although somewhat expensive, G League affiliates help roster construction and the development of young players.

“The Valley Suns is the community’s team and will provide fans an energetic and family-friendly atmosphere while developing aspiring talent on and off the court,” Valley Suns Chief Executive Officer Josh Bartelstein said in a statement. “We’re excited to launch the new G League team with a name and identity chosen by our fans and inspired by the unique desert landscape that we call home.”

NBA Teams Will Benefit A Lot

The current structure involves two tournaments — the Showcase Cup and the playoffs. The Showcase Cup separated teams into four different regional pods, with each team playing 16 games. The four winners of the pods, along with the teams with the four best win percentages, went on to the Winter Showcase.

The Winter Showcase, held in Orlando, pitted eight teams against each other in a single-elimination tournament. The Westchester Knicks, New York’s affiliate, won the showcase. For the playoffs, the top six teams in each conference played after the regular season ended. The top two teams received byes. This year the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder affiliate won the G League Finals.

The growth of the G League will certainly benefit several members of the community. For young undrafted players without a concrete roster spot, it’s an opportunity to grow as a player and attract potential teams. Young prospects like JD Davison or Mac McClung benefit from the league’s expansion.

It’s a good way to adjust to NBA tempo while staying fit and not occupying a full roster spot. McClung and Davison are among the many players who bounce between the NBA and the G League on two-way contracts. The NBA also has a lot more opportunities and a lot more prospects coming through, meaning having a G League affiliate will be vital as the future nears.

“The level of competition in the G League is so much stronger,” draft analyst Jonathan Givony said in an interview. “There used to be this stigma about assigning players to the G League, that’s gone. The money is solid now—you’re making 110-120k. This has killed European basketball in a lot of ways.”


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