Top NBA Players Who Came From The G-League
Many basketball players dream of playing in the NBA. From the fame to the riches to playing against the very best basketball players in the world, the NBA offers its players a level of access and wealth unlike any other professional sporting league.
And while many of us can easily name the top players of the year or the past few decades, there are a number of NBA players who had to play overseas and through the NBA’s G-League before being given an opportunity at the professional level.
Below, we are going to review the top NBA players who came from the G-League and worked their way to the professional one. These players showed not only grit and determination but also a level of dedication and mental fortitude to reach the apex of basketballs greatness.
What Is The NBA G-League?
Originally known as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), from 2001 to 2005, before being known as the NBA Development League (NBA D-League), from 2005 to 2017, before becoming the NBA G League, it is the official minor league of the NBA.
The NBA’s minor league originally started with just eight teams and has expanded to consist of 30 teams, with 28 of those teams either being affiliated or owned by an NBA team.
The NBA G-League is meant to prepare players, coaches, officials, trainers, and front-office staff for the NBA. Offering a more direct route to the NBA, many waived, undrafted, or injured players will spend time in the G-League, working on their conditioning while playing against elite basketball talent.
In addition, the NBA G-League offers the NBA a proving ground to research and develop new basketball techniques, rules, regulations, and changes. These changes, whether major or minor, are typically tested within the minor league before making their way to the professional game.
How Do NBA G-League Player Contracts Work?
Although NBA G-League teams are singly affiliated with an NBA franchise team, most players on the G-League team are considered to be free-agents, available to any NBA team interested in pursuing them. That is, outside of players who are on a two-way contract or an NBA assignment, any NBA team can call up a player from the G-League onto their roster.
Players playing in the G-League generally sign contracts with the league, rather than with an individual team. Therefore, any of the 30 NBA franchise teams are eligible to offer a player in the G-League a contract to play on their team.
Chris “Birdman” Andersen
Chris “Birdman” Andersen was born on July 7, 1978. Born in Long Beach, California, he grew up in Iola, Texas and played one year of college basketball at Blinn College. After college, Andersen began his professional career in the Chinese Basketball Association and the American minor leagues.
After playing in the NBA’s minor league, he became the first D-League player to be called up by an NBA Team. He would sign with the Denver Nuggets, quickly becoming one of the top per-minute rebounders and shot-blockers in the league.
Jason Collier was born on September 8, 1977. Leading the Catholic Central High School to the 1996 Ohio State Basketball Championship, for which he was named the 1996 Ohio Mr. Basketball, he would play for Indiana University before transferring to Georgia Tech.
After college, he would be drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 15th overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft. Traded on draft day to the Houston Rockets, he would play with the team from 2000 to 2003 before dropping to the D-League.
However, in 2004, he would be picked up by the Atlanta Hawks and would play with the team from 2004 to 2005. Unfortunately, in 2005 during the offseason, Collier would pass away suddenly due to a “sudden heart rhythm disturbance caused by an abnormally enlarged heart.”
Shaun Livingston was born on September 11, 1985. He is currently a professional basketball executive and former player. Drafted to the NBA immediately out of high school by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2004 NBA draft, he would play in the league from 2004 through 2009.
However, a debilitating knee injury in 2007 took him out of many games for nearly a year and a half. For much of the 2009 season, he would play for the Tulsa 66ers before returning to the NBA to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Daniel Green Jr. was born on June 22, 1987. He played college basketball at the University of North Carolina, where he played 145 games and had more wins than any Tar Heel before him. He was also the only player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 three-pointers, 150 blocks, and 150 steals.
Winning the NCAA championship in his senior year, he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 46th pick in the 2009 NBA draft. He played 20 games with the Cavaliers in his rookie year before being waived by the team. He would be picked up by the San Antonio Spurs, who would subsequently waive him six days later.
Acquired by the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League, he would average 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in just 16 games. The San Antonio Spurs would once again sign him in 2011.
Born on August 23, 1990, and brother to the famed Steph Curry, he played college basketball for one year at Liberty University before transferring to Duke University. Currently ranked third in NBA history in career three-point field goal percentage, he went undrafted in the 2013 NBA draft and signed with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League.
Playing in the NBA Development League for just a month, he would sign with the Memphis Grizzlies to begin his NBA career.