By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
BELIEVING in what the NBA G League wants to accomplish as an organization, former National Basketball Association (NBA)player and coach Brian Shaw is high on the league as a possible path for those who want to make it to the NBA.
Named as coach of the Select Team of young up-and-coming players in the G League in June, Mr. Shaw, 54, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, said he is very excited to take on the challenge of rearing a new batch of NBA aspirants.
Among those Coach Shaw will be coaching with the G League Select Team are highly touted Filipino-American Jalen Brown and former Philippine high school standout Kai Sotto.
Speaking to local sportswriters at an online media availability hosted by NBA Philippines last week, the audio of which was shared to BusinessWorld, Mr. Shaw said players like Brown and Sotto, provided they do their part in their development, should benefit from their decision to go the G League route in trying to fulfil their NBA dreams.
The NBA G League is the official NBA minor league basketball organization established in 2001.
The 24th pick in the 1988 NBA rookie draft, Mr. Shaw shared with The Association arguably being the best basketball league in the world, it makes sense for players to take the path closest to it which is the G League.
He was quick to say though that he has nothing against players going to college or taking their talents to leagues in Europe to shore up their skills but nonetheless he is still pushing for the G League as a truly viable option as aspirants get more time to develop their game while also getting paid along the way, among other upsides.
“Of course that’s a personal choice. I don’t have anything against going to college or somewhere else. I went to college. But if you want to go to the best league in the world, which is the NBA, why not go to the path closest to it. There is no league like the NBA,” said Mr. Shaw, who went to Saint Mary’s and UC Santa Barbara for college.
“I think one advantage of playing in the G League is they get to spend a lot of time working on their game. They get to play and be paid. And they have an option to study still later if they want to pursue it,” he added.
Mr. Shaw is referring to the NBA G League program where it partnered with Arizona State to give top recruits who use the league as a platform to still finish their college education if they choose to do so even if they make it to the NBA with the G League paying for it.
DEVELOPING GREEN AND SOTTO
Channeling his focus on Green and Sotto, the Select Team coach said the potential of said players to go places is there, and that key is for them to be developed the best way possible.
“I’m excited to coach these two young players. I had the good opportunity to coach Jalen Green last summer in Los Angeles. He is a very talented player. He has tons of potential. I haven’t seen much of Kai Sotto but he is a big guy with a nice skills set. He has a nice touch and has a very good understanding of the game,” he said.
Adding, “Our job as coaches is to develop these guys and teach them as best as I can from my experience of being a pro on and off the court. I’m excited. It’s going to be challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of the protocol. But I’m looking forward to teaching them.”
He went on to say that 7’2” Sotto, who played high school basketball with Ateneo de Manila University, reminds one of NBA All-Star Nicola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets but still needs to develop different aspects of his game, including building up his body.
“Among the big guys in the NBA right now, [Sotto] has the ability to play like Nicola Jokic. He can shoot from the outside. I haven’t been around him yet, but from the films I have seen of him, he can shoot and facilitate like what Jokic does. He needs to get stronger but he is a versatile player,” Mr. Shaw said.
Apart from guard Green and center Sotto, also part of the Select Team are forwards Jonathan Kuminga, Princepal Singh and Isaiah Todd and guard Daishen Nix.
Mr. Shaw said they expect to complete their roster in the months to come.