Torrey Craig destroyed the NBA G League and has been rewarded with a call-up by the Denver Nuggets.
Craig, the former Great Falls High School and USC Upstate basketball star, joined the Nuggets Tuesday night for their game in Utah. The call-up to the big leagues is a deserved reward for the 26-year old Craig, who took a risk by leaving a lucrative and successful career in Australian basketball behind to join the Nuggets on a two-way contract.
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In the past, borderline NBA players opted to play overseas for more money because the G League, the NBA’s farm system that has had multiple names in the past including the NBA Development League, was unable to offer the same kind of salaries. But the NBA and its players signed a new collective bargaining agreement over the summer that included a new kind of deal called a two-way contract. It would allow players with NBA potential, like Craig, that maybe needed G League seasoning to earn low-level NBA money, making the G League more financially viable.
Craig signed his two-way deal in August. He began the season with the Nuggets’ G League outfit, Sioux Falls Skyforce, and dominated. The former Australian defensive player of the year in the NBL, was fifth in the G League in scoring (25.7 points per game), but also averaged 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists through six games, while shooting 39 percent from 3-point range. Craig continued the defensive commitment he developed while playing in Australia, averaging 2.2 blocked shots per game and 1.2 steals.
All the while, Nuggets fans clamored for the NBA team to call him up. The fans got to know him through Craig’s strong performances in the Nuggets’ six summer league games. The 6-foot-6 wing was one of the team’s best performers, improving as the week-long league wore on.