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The Maine Red Claws play the Grand Rapids Drive in March 2019. Photo: Carl D. Walsh/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Daishen Nix, the 15th-ranked player in the 2020 class, has joined fellow five-stars Jalen Green (No. 3) and Isaiah Todd (No. 11) in opting to forego college in favor of the NBA G League's new professional pathway program.

Why it matters: This signals the NBA's intention to more forcefully take the reins on developing its own future talent, while shining a spotlight on the rapidly maturing G League.

Logos: SportsLogos.Net; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The backdrop: The G League began operating in 2001 as the eight-team National Basketball Development League and later became the D-League (Developmental). In 2017, Gatorade became the title sponsor (hence, G League) and the league has expanded to 28 teams.

  • NBA teams own 25 of those 28 teams outright, while the remaining three — Grand Rapids Drive (Pistons), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets) and Texas Legends (Mavericks) are independently owned, though the NBA affiliate runs and finances the basketball operations.
  • A 29th team from Mexico City will join next season as an unaffiliated club. But there are no updates regarding the Trail Blazers and Nuggets — the lone G League holdouts among NBA teams — adding their own affiliates, the NBA tells Axios.

The state of play: The G League's professional pathway program that Green, Todd and Nix have entered is an evolution of last year's "select contract" experiment.

  • Select contracts, worth $125,000 plus incentives and benefits, were meant to entice elite prospects into choosing the G League over college or playing abroad, but they ultimately weren't valuable enough to gain any traction.
  • Now, the salary has increased to $500,000, and these three youngsters are the centerpiece of a new year-long developmental program designed specifically to help them assimilate to a professional lifestyle.

The big picture: The advent of this new program, combined with the expected reversal of the one-and-done rule prior to the 2022 NBA Draft, will fundamentally alter the basketball landscape going forward.

  • For the G League, it signals an ascension to being a true minor league. More talent means more eyeballs means more money, and even when the draft resumes accepting players straight out of high school, the next tier of prospects can take advantage of the pathway program in their stead.
  • For the NCAA, it means a dilution of one-and-done talent, which should spark an about-face regarding how it treats its "student-athletes." Losing the Zions of the world won't sink the NCAA, but their loss won't be negligible, either.

The bottom line: This is all about the NBA showing its might; believing it's the best developmental option for top prospects and putting its money where its mouth is.

Go deeper

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.

Trump gives farewell address: "We did what we came here to do"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump gave a farewell video address on Tuesday, saying that his administration "did what we came here to do — and so much more."

Why it matters, via Axios' Alayna Treene: The address is very different from the Trump we've seen in his final weeks as president — one who has refused to accept his loss, who peddled conspiracy theories that fueled the attack on the Capitol, and who is boycotting his successor's inauguration.