The G-League is back and better than ever. The 18th season will kick csaEoff on Friday, Nov. 2 with a record 27 teams competing for the title. The defending champions, the Austin Spurs, will make their debut on Nov. 3 against the Texas Legends.
If there’s an NBA fanbase that is aware of the importance of having a good developmental team, it’s surely the Spurs. PATFO has always been at the forefront of exploring ways to use the G-League, first mining it for depth and then as a place for its prospects to hone their craft.
With big changes coming in the near future, expect the Spurs to invest even more resources into their Austin affiliate in the next few years. For now, let’s take a look at what this season could have in store for the reigning G-League champions and their parent club.
The young guys will get the playing time they need to develop
From Danny Green to Bryn Forbes, the Spurs affiliate has been home to players that have gone on to play for the big club. This upcoming season will be no different. Two-way player Drew Eubanks will surely be a fixture in Austin, but Chimezie Metu and Lonnie Walker IV will surely start their development there as well.
The great thing about having an affiliate is that it allows the parent team to control what is emphasized on the court. The Austin Spurs have their own coach, G-League legend Blake Ahearn, but he will run a similar system to the one Gregg Popovich uses and will prioritize the development of the assignees. The young guys will not only get ample playing time in a competitive environment instead of sitting in the bench, but will also get to improve their familiarity with the Spurs’ system. We’ve seen how much that has helped prospects in the past, with Derrick White being the latest success story.
Spending time in Austin could really help both Eubanks and Metu. The two rookie bigs have the physical tools to make it to the NBA, with Metu boasting above average measurements. What they need to do now is refine their games and learn how to do the little things at a higher level. They’ll get a chance to learn how to do that in Austin. As for Walker, he’ll get the perfect place to get back into playing shape after he recovers from his meniscus injury. Unlike the bigs, he could eventually carve a place for himself in the big club’s rotation, but he’ll need to find his rhythm before even attempting to do so. He’ll get that time in Austin without facing any pressure to deliver in the biggest stage.
The G-League could once again play a big part in helping the Spurs develop the young players on their roster. It’s hard to be anything but optimistic about their growth, considering the track record of the Austin franchise.
The Austin Spurs should be stacked, so the games will be fun
Beyond being a place for NBA talent to develop, the G-League boasts a high level of play. From young players on assignment to veterans trying to make a comeback, there is a lot of talent on display on most teams. And this year the Austin Spurs could once again be the best of the bunch. Here’s the roster for opening night:
Name | Position | Status
DeJuan Blair | F | Draft Pick
Jaron Blossomgame | F | Returner
Amida Brimah | C | Returner
Connor Burchfield | G | Draft Pick
Drew Eubanks | F | Two-Way
Jordan Green | G/F | Returner
Corey Henderson | G | Local Tryout
Josh Huestis | F | Affiliate
Jeff Ledbetter | G | Returner
Cameron Rundles | G | Local Tryout
Julian Washburn | F | Returner
The Spurs lost some stalwarts from last year’s championship team, including Finals MVP Nick Johnson, as well as Livio Jean-Charles, Olivier Hanlan and obviously White. But they’ve held on to others like Jaron Blossomgame, Jeff Ledbetter, Jordan Green, Julian Washburn and Amidah Brimah. To that core they have added guys with NBA experience like Josh Huestis and our old friend DeJuan Blair as well as a promising two-way player in Eubanks and one of the best shooters in college basketball last year in Connor Burchfield. Add stints from Metu and Walker to the mix and that team is stacked.
If you’ve never watched an Austin Spurs game before, this is the year to change that. They are not guaranteed to return to the finals, but with the talent they have, they should be among the G-League’s best teams.
The G-League season kicks off on Nov. 2. at 6 p.m. CT with matchups featuring the Grand Rapid Drive and the Erie Bayhawks and the Westcherster Knicks and the Maine Red Claws.
The Austin Spurs will have their championship celebration and their first game of the season on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. CT at the HEB Center in Cedar Park against the Texas Legends. You can watch the game at NBAGLeague.com.