Shareef Abdur-Rahim Rumors
It’s one thing as a general manager to look in the mirror and know that taking Allen Iverson or Marcus Camby or Shareef Abdur-Rahim or Stephon Marbury or Ray Allen or Antoine Walker with one of the first six picks of the ’96 draft was the right basketball call at the time. They all made the ’96-’97 All-Rookie Team (1st or 2nd) and there were two bona fide Hall of Famers (Iverson and Allen) several all-stars (Abdur-Rahim, Marbury and Walker) and Camby was a 4x All-Defensive Team player.
“The NBA G League continues to be an essential destination for player development, and I’m so pleased to welcome the Kroenke family and the Denver Nuggets to the league,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “Steve Jbara and his team in Grand Rapids run an outstanding organization and I’m excited for this partnership to take both teams to new heights.”
Which is why it’s so strange to find him at the top of the leaderboard for rejections of his own shot. It almost sounds like a paradox. It’s not exactly a feat you’d associate with a player who opposing coaches compare to Shaq. Williamson has had his shot blocked 104 times this season, according to NBA Advanced Stats. Not only is that the most in the league, but it’s 33 more than the next player (Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton) on the list. Opponents have swatted 2.1 of his shots per game — the highest frequency among players with at least 41 games played since Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1998-99. Williamson’s pace is the third-highest in the 25 seasons that the NBA has tracked this data.2
Shareef Abdur-Rahim didn’t have aspirations to be G League president. But one thing he learned during his 12-year NBA career was to always be prepared for when your name might be called. So, when the NBA dangled the opportunity to lead its development league three years ago, Abdur-Rahim didn’t hesitate — he took the shot.
“Something that was true in my on-court career and that’s true in business is that you have to trust your instincts,” said Abdur-Rahim, who retired as a player in 2008. “You have to do the work, prepare and be a good teammate. You have to take feedback and listen — but at the end of the day, you have to trust your instincts and go for it. You have to trust yourself. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned.”
While Abdur-Rahim appreciates the sentiment, he remains focused on elevating the NBA’s feeder system. Goals include getting a G League affiliate for each of the 30 NBA clubs and making it a global league — a Mexico City G League team is coming next season, for example. He also wants to continue building the Ignite development program into a truly viable destination for draft-eligible players, with not just on-court development but with more resources in education, tuition and branding/career development. “We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “The potential here is so expansive, and we’re not even close to scratching the surface of what the G League can be.”
In the process, he’s also helping the G League fend off global competitors for players with NBA potential who want to be paid now for their abilities on the court. “They shouldn’t have to go halfway across the world to do something that they can do here,” G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim said this week, before Green and the Ignite kicked off their season on Wednesday in Florida. “Young men shouldn’t be pigeonholed into doing one thing. … We wanted to make sure that we had something in place that more young players that thought this was right for them, they could take advantage of it.”