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Larry Kestelman: NBL's Next Stars success forced G League revamp

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Perth Wildcats receive belated NBL trophy (0:48)

Perth Wildcats received their championship trophy and rings after winning their record-breaking 10th title. (0:48)

NBL owner Larry Kestelman says he's "flattered" the NBA decided to revamp its G League in an effort to emulate the NBL's Next Stars program which has proved so successful in Australia.

The Next Stars initiative, which launched in 2018, offers young talent an alternate pathway to the NBA by foregoing the traditional college route and instead being paid to play in the NBL. The main benefit of the program is it teaches players how to become a professional athlete.

Last season, the most talented crop of Next Stars descended Down Under with the likes of expected top 10 NBA draft picks LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton making a significant splash in the league.

However, the NBA has since opted to reposition its G League and offer young athletes a similar experience to what they might receive in Australia. High school players can now sign with a non-NBA affiliated team and earn money before nominating for the draft.

"We have accelerated what [the NBA] needed to do," Kestelman told ESPN. "In some ways it's flattering they've created this program."

On the surface it might seem as if the adjustment of the G League will significantly hurt the NBL, but Kestelman believes that won't be the case. Instead, he's convinced both programs have a place in the NBA pathway space.

"I don't think it's worrying," said Kestelman. "The fact there are going to be so many kids that they anticipate not going to college and actually using the program shows me there's a demand.

"We don't need 20, 30, 50 kids in our program. We want two or three good overseas kids and we're still very confident we'll have players choosing to play with us.

"Their program is more about an academy style and some exhibition games. Ours is all about you coming here and getting straight into it. You're a professional. We teach them more than just basketball. [They are] very, very different programs and so we think there's room for both."

The 2020-21 NBL season is scheduled to begin in October, however Kestelman has admitted the start date could be pushed back if the COVID-19 situation has not eased.