Life on a G League roster is hardly the most glamorous of lifestyles, for NBA hopefuls trying to fight their way to the world’s grandest basketball stage.
The average salary for G League players is $7,000 (USD) per month, equating to $35,000 over the course of the five-month season. On top of the low payscale, franchises are often based in obscure towns such as Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Despite the obvious downfalls to life as a G League player, the league is quickly establishing itself as a legitimate path to the NBA, a path that three Australians have taken advantage of this NBA season.
Mitch Creek (Brooklyn and Minnesota), Deng Adel (Cleveland) and Isaac Humphries (Atlanta) have earned NBA callups after excellent G League campaigns.
Creek was the first to see NBA minutes, scoring his first NBA points on a free throw for the Nets after consistently putting up big numbers with the Long Island Nets. After being released from Brooklyn, Creek would go back to work in Long Island, and secured a 10-day contract with the Timberwolves earlier this week.
Creek will look to add to his four NBA appearances when he joins the Wolves, after playing in 41 games (32 starts) with Long Island, averaging 15.3 points, on 55.4% shooting, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 30.5 minutes per game.
The latest 10-day contract couldn’t have come at a better time for Creek, who has admitted the G League is not a path he wants to go down moving forward if the NBA doesn’t come calling.
“Right now, it’s not on the cards. I feel like this year, if we get a couple of 10-days and things go really well, then it is something we will weigh up. But as of right now, there have been no 10-days or two-way contract offers so, realistically, it is about making a good decision about where my career is going to take me.”
In Cleveland, Adel has struggled for consistent playing time on a roster that is going through a definitive rebuild. Despite the lack of consistent opportunities, Cavaliers coach Larry Drew spoke highly of the Sudanese-Australian earlier this month before his team squared off with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“It was tough for him first of all because he was playing very sporadically which I understand can be a little difficult. Coming in from the G League, he was certainly in a position of not getting minutes from a consistent standpoint, but I really admired how he did come in during practice time and how hard he worked,” Drew said.
A trademark of Adel’s personality is his positive attitude, a trait that holds him in good stead with the NBA franchise moving forward.
“He brought the right attitude, that’s the thing that really impressed me about him. This kid never had a bad day, he always came in, whether he played or even just two minutes, he kept the same attitude and he approached it the same way. I tell ya, I really grew to like him, he’s a guy who is on our radar and we are certainly going to keep a close eye on him.”
The last point is important to acknowledge, as spots on the end of an NBA roster can often come down to locker room influence and commitment to going to work each and every day.
The Atlanta Hawks today announced that Humphries was officially signed to the remainder of this season.
Humphries averaged 11.3 points and 7.0 rebounds for the Erie Bay Hawks across 46 appearances.
The Atlanta Hawks are languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and there could be opportunities for the former Kentucky Wildcat to make an impression in the NBA regular season’s last legs.
For fringe NBA roster talents, the stretch run is somewhat of a showcase to potentially secure a Summer League spot, that hopefully leads to a training camp position and future job security in the league.
In what has already been a landmark season for Australians in the NBA, and the FIBA World Cup on the horizon, the late Australian invasion on the Association is a further boost to the nations standing on the world basketball scene.
During Summer League in July, Adel gave some insight into how he is able to stay positive through what many may consider to be trying circumstances during crucial years of his professional career.
“[I’m] being patient, I’ve been through a lot personally so I’m not going to quit now. Depending on what happens through Summer League, I’ve got that resiliency to be patient and continue to grind,” Adel said.
Grind is the key word – life in the G League is all about the grind, and reaching for that next contract.