The NBA G League Next Gem game is the next step for Cleveland Charge and the G League overall

The inaugural Next Gem Game will feature the Cleveland Charge taking on the G League Ignite team in an All-Star exhibition.

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Obviously, hosting this year's NBA All-Star festivities be a monumental moment for the city of Cleveland. It's projected that nearly $100 million in revenue will be brought in, mostly to the food and hospitality industries, during the events. It's also significant that Cleveland of all places plays host to the biggest celebration of the NBA's 75th "diamond" season as well.

Not only that, but this year's All-Star celebration is also adding new mainstays to the lineup, including the NBA G League Next Gem Game. The inaugural Next Gem game will pit the Cleveland Charge, the G League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, against the G League Ignite Team, which features some of the NBA's latest up-and-coming young talent. The Charge are loaded with hoops talent ready to land their spot in the NBA and have had several NBA call-ups so far this season including Kyle Guy (Miami), Justin James (New Orleans) Malik Newman (Cleveland), Norvel Pelle (Boston, Utah), and Tre Scott (Cleveland).

“While the NBA’s brightest stars of the past & present will be in Cleveland throughout All-Star Weekend, it is a welcome addition to have some of tomorrow’s best burgeoning talent on display in this Next Gem Game,” said Cleveland Cavaliers President of Franchise Properties Mike Ostrowski in a statement.

Last month Guy was signed a two-way deal with the Heat, which is a win in the eyes of Charge general manager Brendon Yu. But, the significance of the Next Gem game along with the opportunity it presents for the G League overall is another win in the eyes of Yu as well.

"It's huge to have the inaugural honors of in terms of hosting and, you know, hopefully, this is something that the league wants to do kind of moving forward," said Yu. "But, you know, I think it kind of speaks to where the league is going with Ignite and kind of the success of that program.

"And then it's the growth of the G League as well. They used to have like a separate G League All-Star game or the G League dunk contest, the three-point contest, and then, you know, it kind of like went away from the All-Star weekend. Now it's kind of slowly creeping back with some of the Ignite guys, the Rising Stars and, obviously, this Next Gem game. And so it's only good for the explosion and growth of the G League as well."

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Not only is it a big moment for the G League and a step in the right direction for the league, but, it's a significant moment for the Charge as well. Sure, it's already significant that the city of Cleveland, the Wolstein Center, Cleveland State University and the Charge organization are hosting the event, which will likely be a staple of All-Star weekend going forward, for the first time. But, it's also a huge deal for the Charge players as well.

Yu shared with Right Down Euclid that it's entirely voluntary for players to play in this event since this time is their mid-season break from regular season G League action. But, Cleveland's roster was all in on the opportunity to play in the Next Gen game. Not only because of the significance of the event. But also due to the fact that this was another opportunity to showcase their talent on arguably one of the biggest stages.

"I think it gives us a good opportunity to showcase the work and the diligence our guys have come to work with every day," said Charge head coach Dan Geriot. "We get to put that on showcase from the NBA scouting standpoint. So it gives our guys a little cherry on top exhibition game and also a carrot in front of them.

"There are 30 teams that are gonna be there and excited to see our guys play. And I think it's gonna be a competitive atmosphere. We'll see how the game transpires, but I think we're excited to have the opportunity to be in this type of exhibition game for ourselves. The funny part is I've told the guys, 'Shit, I mean there ain't nothing else on TV. Dudes are gonna be watching this game and seeing everything that we're about.' But, now you're starting to feel it in the G League. You feel the seriousness, the commitment, and even the trust from the NBA that this is a big deal. You feel like that this is serious."

As it was mentioned at the top, several Charge players have already spent time in the NBA this season. Some, like Guy, have also been signed to a two-way deal. With all eyes now on the event, it'll give even more opportunities for the players who already spent time in the NBA as well as those waiting for their chance. Charge big man Tacko Fall already spent serious time with the Cavaliers and could be primed to break through again. The same could be said for Malik Newman or Mitch Ballock as well.

Not only is this an opportunity for the players. But, it's also the next step in the NBA fully embracing the G League as more than just a player development tool or a place to send players to rehabilitate as well. It's a chance to showcase that the G League really is the second greatest professional basketball league in the world. It'll all start this Saturday afternoon in Cleveland with the Charge hosting the Ignite team. From there, the sky's the limit.

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