Skip to Main Content

NBA G League 101: How Rosters Are Built

Look at an NBA G League roster and you will see players at different stages of their careers who took different paths to the pros: Recognizable names from high-profile schools; lesser-known small-school hopefuls. Undrafted players looking to catch eyes; NBA players assigned to gain seasoning.

Two-Way Contracts | Returning Players | Affiliate Players | Local Tryout Players |
NBA G League Draft Picks | NBA Draft Rights Players | NBA Assignees | NBA Draft-Eligible Players | Free Agents | Expansion Draft


Beginning in the 2017 offseason, NBA rosters expanded from 15 to 17 players with the addition of two spots for players under “Two-Way Contracts.” For the 2023-24 season, each NBA team is permitted to have up to three players under Two-Way Contracts on its roster at any time (in addition to the maximum 15 players under Standard NBA Contracts).

NBA teams may have up to three players under NBA Two-Way Contracts who may be active for up to 50 games with their NBA team. Players signed to Two-Way Contracts are paid one salary for their time in both leagues. Only players with three or fewer years of NBA service are able to sign Two-Way Contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.

>> Two-Way Tracker

Examples (2023-24):
Emoni Bates (Cleveland Cavaliers/Cleveland Charge)
Oscar Tshiebwe (Indiana Pacers/Indiana Mad Ants)


Teams hold the rights to any player who has played for them within the last two seasons, as long as they have not released that player.

Examples (2023-24):
Sharife Cooper (Cleveland Charge)
Jarrett Culver (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)


When NBA teams trim their rosters during training camp and the preseason, they have the first crack at acquiring their waived players on their NBA G League affiliate.

Organizations can designate up to four "affiliate players," though those players will remain NBA free agents. This still allows NBA front offices to identify prospects that they like and keep them in their system -- especially given the current state of the league, in which all 27 NBA G League teams are singly affiliated with an NBA parent club.

Examples (2023-24):
Mac McClung (Osceola Magic)
Tosan Evbuomwan (Motor City Cruise)


NBA G League teams hold tryouts during each offseason, inviting some players to participate for free while attracting locals who pay a small fee to participate. The teams can invite the cream of the crop (up to three players) to their training camps.

A few dozen tryout players each year make their way onto training camp rosters, and many have even made it into game action and beyond.

"Mr. Mad Ant" Ron Howard authored one Cinderella story among that group, parlaying a training camp invitation in 2007 into a seven-year career in Fort Wayne, capped by a championship and MVP season in 2014. Houston product Jonathon Simmons completed a journey from the Austin Spurs' local tryout in September 2013 to the San Antonio Spurs' roster in July 2015 before breaking out during the 2015-16 NBA season. During the 2021-22 G League season, Local Tryout signing Craig Randall II of the Long Island Nets went on the be named Kia Most Improved Player on the season.

Past Examples:
Jonathon Simmons (Austin Spurs)
David Nwaba (South Bay Lakers)


Every fall, more than 200 players are signed by the league office and placed in the NBA G League Draft. About half of them are selected on Draft day, which features a field of NBA and NBA G League vets, international pros, undrafted rookies and NBA G League National Tryout players.

Many of the top picks arrive just days before the Draft after either arriving from overseas or being waived by NBA teams -- a group that included eventual Westchester Knicks star Jimmer Fredette in 2015.

Examples (2023-24):
Jack White (South Bay Lakers)
Teafale Lenard Jr. (Texas Legends)


In 2014, the Oklahoma City Thunder made headlines for their decision to select Stanford forward Josh Huestis in the first round of the NBA Draft with the intent of adding him to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue. He was called the league’s first “domestic draft-and-stash” player.

The Thunder could do this through a rule that was implemented just three months before they drafted Huestis. The “draft rights player” rule allows NBA G League teams to directly acquire players on their NBA parent club’s draft list, bypassing the usual NBA G League player selection processes, including the NBA G League Draft and the in-season waiver wire.

Click here to read more about the rule

Past Examples: 
Gui Santos (Golden State Warriors/Santa Cruz Warriors)
Isaiah Hartenstein (Houston Rockets/Rio Grande Valley Vipers)


NBA teams can assign players with three years of service or less an unlimited number of times, and they're taking advantage of that rule each season.

In 2022-23, 92 different players were assigned to NBA G League teams 551 times. With the advantage of having an affiliate within driving distance, several teams shuttled players back and forth between teams.

Examples (2023-24):
Taylor Hendricks (Utah Jazz/Salt Lake City Stars)
Dariq Whitehead (Brooklyn Nets/Long Island Nets)


A player who has not yet entered the NBA Draft can instead enter the NBA G League and maintain his NBA Draft eligibility.

If the player signs with the NBA G League before the season, he is eligible for the NBA G League Draft. If he signs mid-season, he is available for NBA G League teams to claim in the league waiver pool.

Unlike the rest of the players signed by the G League, NBA Draft-eligible players are not eligible to be called up by NBA teams.

Click here to read more

Examples (2023-24): 
Teafale Lenard Jr. (Texas Legends)
Isiaih Mosley (Greensboro Swarm)

Past Examples: 
P.J. Hairston (1st Round, 2014)
Thanasis Antetokounmpo (2nd Round, 2014)
Glen Rice Jr. (2nd Round, 2013)


The NBA G League rosters you see every fall are typically unrecognizable by wintertime. That's because the league is infused with talent throughout the season as players returning from stints overseas/NBA veterans working their way back into the league enter the player pool.

NBA G League teams can place claims on the newly available players through a rotation waiver system.

Examples (2023-24):
David Muoka (Long Island Nets)
Noah Starkey (Oklahoma City Blue)


When new franchises join the league, an expansion draft is held prior to the start of training camps. Each team can protect the rights of up to 10 players while the three expansion teams can select up to 14 unprotected players, with no more than two selections coming from any one team. The teams will hold the rights to those players for two seasons.

Before the 2022-23 G League season, the Rip City Remix joined the league as the Portland Trail Blazers' G League affiliate to become the league's 31st team. They selected 14 players as part of their expansion draft.

Examples (2023-24):
Quinton Rose (Rip City Remix)