Sources: G League introducing new international draft program

HENDERSON, NEVADA - DECEMBER 27: Mojave King #7 of G League Ignite drives between Lucas Williamson (L) #12 and Keaton Wallace #32 of the Ontario Clippers in the fourth quarter of their game at The Dollar Loan Center on December 27, 2022 in Henderson, Nevada. Ignite defeated the Clippers 114-108 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Mojave King of G League Ignite drives against the Ontario Clippers on Dec. 27, 2022, in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The G League will introduce a new international draft program beginning with a one-round virtual draft on June 28, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The international draft will allow overseas prospects between the ages of 18 and 21 to enter the G League for player development as opposed to joining an NCAA men’s basketball program or playing for another professional organization for the 2023-24 season.

According to a memo sent to teams and obtained by Yahoo Sports, the G League’s international draft order will be determined by a random drawing on June 19, featuring players who have not been previously entered in an NBA Draft.

This new aspect of the G League comes after a fresh round of collective bargaining between the NBA and players union. Under the previous CBA, any prospect, such as Thanasis Antetokounmpo during the 2013-14 season, who joined the G League would become automatically enrolled in the following June’s NBA Draft. Now beginning with the 2023-24 season, prospects will no longer be required to enter the subsequent NBA Draft, sources said, starting with the 2024 draft. As detailed in the memo, teams will hold G League rights to international draft players for two seasons.

This new avenue clears the way for more elite prospects to enter the growing G League talent pool, similar to this year’s success story of Ignite guard Mojave King, a 6-foot-5 wing from New Zealand who has rehabilitated his NBA draft stock after playing the 2020-21 and 2021-22 campaigns in Australia’s NBL and the 2022 season in New Zealand’s NBL.

The Golden State Warriors acquired Alen Smailagić in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft after the Serbian forward spent the 2018-19 season with the Santa Cruz Warriors. While Smailagić did not produce the development success story that Golden State hoped for, his path is the most direct example of the potential benefits for both NBA franchises and international prospects to play stateside before entering the NBA Draft. Team scouts and talent evaluators will have far greater access to observe these players in the G League’s NBA-style game.

Even after being selected, players chosen in the international draft will have until July 7 to opt out of joining their G League affiliate for the 2023-24 season, according to the memo.