G League players will now make as much as gamers in the NBA 2K League

Jaron Blossomgame and Olivier Hanlan celebrate their recent G League championship with the Austin Spurs. (Getty Images)
Jaron Blossomgame and Olivier Hanlan celebrate their recent G League championship with the Austin Spurs. (Getty Images)

G League players will receive a significant pay raise next season, the NBA announced on Tuesday. That raise, though, continues to raise questions about whether the developmental league can be a viable alternative to the NCAA for young professionals hoping to make a career out of playing basketball.

The G League will increase its base salary from a two-tiered system that paid players either $26,000 to $19,000 this season to $35,000 for everyone next season, according to the release. While that represents at least a 35 percent increase across the board, the figure comes under fire for only matching the salary for top-end video game players recently drafted into the fledgling NBA 2K League.

NBA 2K League first-round picks will earn $35,000 for their six-month season, one month longer than the G League campaign. Both NBA 2K League and G League participants receive healthcare benefits and in-season housing. NBA 2K League players will also compete for a $1 million prize pool dispersed over the league’s three in-season tournaments and playoffs. G League players, meanwhile, can earn NBA training camp bonuses as well as end-of-season playoff and award bonuses exceeding $50,000.

This season, the NBA allowed for a pair of two-way players per team. Those athletes were paid a starting salary of $75,000 in the G League and could have earned as much as $275,000, depending on how much time they spent in the NBA. Fifty G League players were called up to the NBA this year, and all but three NBA teams — Denver, New Orleans and Portland — will have a G League affiliate next year.

It’s also important to note that esports draw millions more viewers than the G League.

Still, if the NBA hopes to leverage the G League as a viable alternative for young players amid the NCAA scandal — an idea everyone from LeBron James to Barack Obama has floated and one NBA commissioner Adam Silver seems to be exploring — you can’t help but wonder how they expect to accomplish that by paying players less than many NCAA recruits are receiving under the table.

While Tuesday’s announcement is a step in the right direction, there’s still a long way to go from $35,000 for the G League to raise its profile enough to make playing worthwhile compared to six-figure scholarships and contracts abroad that can reach into the millions. There’s been only one Darius Bazley, a McDonald’s All-American foregoing college to join the G League, and only one Andre Ingram, a 32-year-old who spent a decade in the developmental league before making his NBA debut.

There’s a chicken-and-egg debate going on here. The G League needs an influx of talent to get the increased viewership that would generate enough revenue for the NBA to consider six-figure salaries, but it may not get that talent without showing the money first. We shall see if this raise makes a difference beyond the extra Benjamin its current crop of players will take home after taxes each week.

– – – – – – –

Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

More from Yahoo Sports:
Teammate bursts into tears during NFL star’s retirement
Charles Robinson: Why things may get ugly for Rodgers, Packers
Report: LeBron sued over barbershop web show
Are Yankees fans being too tough on Stanton?

What to read next

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes