On Friday night, the Washington Wizards and Monumental Sports and Entertainment announced that the franchise’s new G League team will be called the Capital City Go-Go. The Go-Go, which will begin play in the new arena and practice facility in Ward 8 next year, are the 27th team in the NBA’s G League.
Having a minor league developmental team will be a big win for the entire Wizards organization. Not only will players get an opportunity to gain valuable experience, but coaches and development staff will also have opportunities for growth. Even better, the facility and location of the team will be within district limits and much closer than most NBA team’s G League affiliates.
“I think it’s going to be a huge asset for us,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “How we will run is that they will be a part of us. Every opportunity they have to be around our staff, our players, their staff will be here. We will be when time permits at their practices. It’s such an important partnership and we want to make sure that the integration is seamless. When we have players playing for our team, they will run the same things that we run.”
Over the past few seasons, several current Wizards players have played in the G League. One of the G League’s best stories is actually Wizards’ point guard Tim Frazier, a former D-League (at the time) Most Valuable Player. Frazier, who went undrafted in 2014 and went straight to the Maine Red Claws, made a career in the NBA by proving himself in the now G League. The 6’1” point guard averaged 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game in that 2014-15 MVP season.
“Looking at where I am today, I give credit to the D-League and how it’s gotten me to this position and where I am,” Frazier said. “The grind that I had to go through, the opportunity that the D-League gave is what I needed. It gave me the extra push. Coming out of college, I wasn’t ready to play in the NBA and it gave me the opportunity to learn under NBA coaches, under NBA arenas and learn from guys that are NBA players…I give nothing but credit to the D-League then, now G-League in the place that I am today.”
Frazier would eventually sign a multi-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, then joined the New Orleans Pelicans the next season. The Wizards traded for him this past summer to make him the primary backup point guard to John Wall. He credits his journey to the confidence he gained with the Red Claws and wouldn’t trade his experience for the world.
“I think that’s the biggest thing is that you get the confidence because you’re playing against NBA players,” he continued. “There’s guys that are being sent down, now they have the two-way contracts, you’re playing against NBA players, you’re traveling to different arenas, you’re going through the travel, you’re getting prepared for what the NBA lifestyle is, and that’s what benefitted me the most.”
Wizards’ forward Chris McCullough averaged 16.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game during his time in the G League last season with the Long Island Nets and the Northern Arizona Suns. McCullough played down in the G League to get as many reps as possible after recovering from injuries during college and his rookie season. He played 31 games with the minor league Nets before being traded to the Wizards, but McCullough had a much more unique G League experience during his time with the Brooklyn Nets organization.
“I had two-a-days,” McCullough explained. “In the morning, I would have a D-League game at 12:00pm and at night I had a 7:30pm [NBA] game, so I was doing double-headers for like two months straight. Just getting a lot of reps, playing a lot of minutes, that was overall good for me.”
Sheldon Mac played six games with the Delaware 87ers last season to get him playing time. Mac saw action in 30 games last season with the Wizards, but Brooks wanted to get Mac some game play after being inactive for a long stretch during the season. Mac averaged 10.7 points per in game in those six with Delaware, and later played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the postseason where he averaged 19.0 points per game in three appearances.
“A lot of people gave me motivation, just told me to stay positive,” Mac said about his time in Delaware. “Don’t look at it as a bad thing that you’re going down to the G-League. It’s not anything bad, they just want you to go down there just like I said for reps and to work on your game. It was a good thing for me, and I wouldn’t trade it because it helped me to this day.”
With an affiliate so close, players are able to play in more games and be more comfortable around the organization’s players, coaches, staff, and familiar faces. The Wizards and Go-Go will share the same facility and go through the same motions. McCullough noted in his time with the Nets that it was a major benefit to have the team close by as he was always around the organization and it was like a family.
Coach Brooks and one of the G League’s biggest success stories in Frazier can’t wait for the future of the Go-Go. With players on two-way contracts and players needing a rehab assignment after an injury, the Wizards can keep players in-house. Players will build familiarity with the team’s system and organization, and coaches will be able to grow as well.
“I think having a G-League team here in D.C. is going to be tremendous not only for just the players, but the fans as well,” Frazier said. “It gives you an opportunity to watch young players and guys who are trying to make it to the next step. It’s always close; the big thing about basketball is that it’s a family. To have your G-League team, basically your little brothers underneath you right there learning, and being able to be a part of the tremendous organization that the Wizards have is going to be huge.”
“I’m excited; it’s going to be a great opportunity for our organization, our fans to see the growth of our team through the G-League and through our team here with the Wizards,” Brooks said. “But I’m excited about it, the thing that I look back is just to see a new building form is a cool experience. I can’t wait for next season, but it’s going to be a big asset to our organization.”