OVERTIME – Overtime is a digital sports media company that started in 2016. It has since launched the professional basketball league, Overtime Elite League (OTE). OTE was developed for top high school players, offering them the opportunity to play professional basketball, while also earning an annual salary of up to $10
0K. OTE’s transformative model offers young players a unique and nontraditional path to the NBA – play basketball in the OTE league in lieu of high school and college, while earning income.
Since OTE’s launch in 2021, the league has been experiencing many of the growing pains that are often associated with starting up a new sports league. The intersection of the benefits or pros of OTE with the Year 1 challenges or cons that players have encountered are listed below (not an exhaustive list):
- Receive an annual salary of up to six figures.
- If OTE player opts to attend college, the league will pay for the first year of the student’s tuition.
- Have the unique opportunity to train year-round in Atlanta, GA.
- Since OTE is a newer league, it has a very limited number of players (~30) and only 3 teams to play both with and against. As a result, OTE players are not able to play against national elite talent.
- OTE players lose amateur-status eligibility once they receive a paycheck.
- Few OTE alumni are in the NBA. To date, no OTE players have been drafted into the NBA. But, recently, 3 players have signed contracts with the NBA.
EUROPE – As highlighted above, OTE is a great nontraditional option for young players, but it’s not the only one worth highlighting in this post. Another option for players is to play internationally. More specifically, to play in Europe. Europe is an option that I love for young players, but it can be an extremely challenging path for players to take. Some of the Pros and Cons associated with playing professional basketball in Europe for American players are listed below:
- Gain access to top-notch basketball education. The education that basketball players can gain in Europe is considered one of the best that a player can receive.
- Outside of NBA players, European professional players receive some of the highest salaries and longer contracts of professional basketball players across the globe.
- Great option for NBA players seeking to extend their professional careers outside of the league. Europe is considered the next biggest global basketball market, after the NBA.
- The data suggests that 1/3333 (.03%) will play in the NBA. Building rapport, experience and understanding of European city life can go a long way.
- Need to overcome living adjustments, including language barrier(s), food, culture, time change, lack of support system, etc.
- Find a basketball mentor based in new international team. It is worth noting that all European leagues are not created equal. So, players need someone who has history with the team to help you successfully navigate that new landscape.
- Adjusting to the standard European practice schedule / cadence of twice daily. Traditionally, NBA players practice once a day, so this increase can be challenging, especially for athletic players who depend on their legs (i.e., defenders, slashers, and rebounders)
NBA G-LEAGUE (G-League) – Over the last few years, the G-League has been growing in popularity as an option for emerging professional basketball prospects. For instance, the Las Vegas Ignite (Ignite) is a team that high school prospects have the option of playing on. The league’s President Shareef Abdul-Rahim and Ignite’s general manager have been doing a great job of pulling in young talented prospects. They’ve also been successful at educating prospects of the benefits that joining the G-League could have on both their careers and overall player development. Though there are some great Benefits / Pros to playing in the G-League, there are also a few Cons worth noting:
- The G-League is set up as a developmental league for players affiliated with NBA teams.
- NBA prospects can earn a six-figure income.
- Young players can stay in the United States, close to family and friends.
- The G-League does not pay a lot unless there is a special talent involved that will be an NBA draft pick.
- The G-league is not a place where a player can build a long career.
- National media coverage of the G-League is very limited.
- Not every player in the G-League can be considered an NBA prospect.