Analyzing the G-League Ignite After Their Fourth Loss of the Season
February 27th, 2021
By Alan Lu
Yesterday, I decided to take the opportunity to watch Jalen Green and the G-League Ignite play against Salt Lake City in a NBA G-League basketball game. After staying competitive in the first quarter, Salt Lake City really took command of the game in the second quarter, as they ended up defeating the G-League Ignite by double digits.
Tyler Bey played excellent basketball, and he is a high-flyer that excelled as an aggressive scorer and defender in this game. Malcolm Miller and Trevon Bluiett both shot the ball really well, and they are good shooters that really excelled at knocking down threes. From what I saw, Malcolm Miller and Trevon Bluiett are talented shooters that were able to show why they were previously on NBA rosters, and Bey’s strong athletic gifts and defensive prowess could enable him to be a solid role player, or at least carve out a niche role as a defensive specialist in the NBA sometime in the near future.
For the G-League Ignite, Jalen Green had a strong showing, as he scored 24 points in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. With Donta Hall having been promoted to the NBA after signing a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors, there were more minutes to be had by the other big men on the G-League Ignite’s team. Jessie Govan showed some low post scoring skills, as he scored 13 points, but he generally struggled defensively. Princepal Singh was able to get into the game as he played well in limited minutes, and he was able to make a fairly cogent case as to why he should be considered a legitimate NBA prospect for the upcoming draft. Unfortunately, neither Kuminga nor the G-League Ignite played well, as they ended up losing by 20. Here are my thoughts on how Green and the other prospects fared, as well as where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA. For those that are interested in the box score of this game, the link is here.
Jalen Green had a strong showing in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. He scored 24 points in this game, and he excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor. Green shot the ball well in this game, and he was able to provide solid floor spacing for his team. Green was able to make a step back three in transition, and he also made an open, spot-up three another time. He also managed to pull up to make a mid-range jumper. He also drew three free throws on a step back three from beyond the arc, as he used a pro move to get fouled that time. He did his fair share of threes, but he was able to rack up a lot of points on jumpers that he took on offense.
Plus, he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Green would often score on powerful, two-handed dunks off of quick, backdoor cuts, and he also scored on a layup off of a cut another time. He also was able to quickly get a steal to score on a thunderous dunk on a breakaway.
He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble. Green was able to score on a speedy, switch of hands layup. He also drove to his right to get to the free throw line another time, and he showed a knack for being able to draw fouls upon his defenders. Sometimes though, he would take tough, rushed shots, and he ended up having a couple of his shots blocked.
Also, he displayed fairly good playmaking skills in this game. Green is an unselfish player that tended to throw solid interior passes, as he was able to find a roll man, and he also threw an accurate lob pass to set up scores for his teammates. He sees the floor well, and he can consistently find teammates in stride and on the move to get them the basketball. He also is a speedy, fleet-footed guard that can consistently get to the rim to create scoring chances for himself and his team. However, he did commit a few turnovers, though. He threw a pass that got intercepted once. He also committed a couple of ball-handling turnovers due to carelessness. He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. Green would leap up to get plenty of defensive boards, and he would tend to push the ball quickly up the court.
Green also played satisfactory defense in this game. He would quickly get his hands on passes to get steals for his team due to possessing very good athleticism and anticipation skills. He also would contest jumpers to force misses, and he also managed to contest a shot off of a drive to force a miss. Late in this match, he was able to use the pull out the chair move when defending a taller player in the post to get a stop another time. Sometimes though, he would loaf on defense, as he would not get back or actively rotate to contest shots, and he would tend to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.
In general, Jalen Green played very well in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. He looks to be strengthening his case to be the top pick of the 2021 draft, if only if Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs didn’t already get the head start in that conversation due to their season having started earlier. Green is a very athletic combo guard that can score at will, and he can dominate on offense when he’s knocking down his shots and also is able to move the basketball to get assists. He is a very talented prospect, and he could end up being a multi-All-Star in the NBA.
Daishen Nix had a fairly good showing in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. He excelled at attacking the hoop to score the basketball, and he also played well on both ends of the court in this game. Nix showed a decent ability to score off the dribble. He tended to favor going to his left, and he was able to score on a strong, powerful drive off the glass. He also excelled at absorbing the contact when taking the ball strong to the hoop to get plenty of free throws, and he was able to swiftly change directions to get to the foul line late. On the downside, he also had a tendency to take tough, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses when he would not be able to get foul calls.
He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Nix was able to score on a strong put back after grabbing an offensive rebound in this game. He also ran off the ball to take a quick, open three-point shot off the catch, but Nix was unable to connect on his lone three-point attempt from beyond the arc.
Plus, Nix also displayed fairly good playmaking skills in this game. He is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to find the open man to get assists, and he also was able to throw solid interior passes to find teammates on the move. He did commit a couple of turnovers though, as he had a ball poked away from him once, and he also telegraphed an entry pass that ended up getting intercepted on a separate play. Also, Nix did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to chase down balls to get boards on each side of the ball, and he was able to push the ball up the court after getting a defensive rebound once.
Furthermore, Nix played satisfactory defense in this game. Weirdly enough to say, even though his team lost by 20, and he technically did finish with a -13, which looks bad on the surface, my gut feeling is that Nix played his strongest defensive game of the season. I was satisfied with the effort he generally brought to the court, and he was consistently active on the defensive end.
Nix applied considerable ball pressure to help his team on this side of the ball. Nix managed to poke a ball away on a drive to get a steal due to possessing long arms, reach, and solid anticipation skills. He also would deflect passes, and he also poked a ball away another time to nearly get steals on other possessions. He also would stay in front of his man to contest jumpers and shots off the dribble to force misses. On the downside, he tended to get caught and stuck on screens, that would leave people open and lead to scramble situations. Other times, he would not always move his feet well, as he would sometimes get beat off the dribble and give up on plays to allow scores.
Overall, Daishen Nix played fairly well in this game, and he was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the court. He showed off his trademark solid playmaking and rebounding skills, but he also excelled as an inside scorer and as a defender when he was on the court. He will still need to improve his outside shot and he will need to continue to defend well in the upcoming games, but Nix is a talented prospect whose offensive skills and solid basketball IQ could make him a good pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2021 draft.
Unfortunately, Jonathan Kuminga did not play very well in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. Coming off one of his strongest performances of the season, he followed that up by scoring just 10 points on 3 of 12 shooting, and he did not make a single three-point shot, though he did get 9 rebounds in his team’s loss to the Stars.
Kuminga excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He runs the floor very well, and he was able to catch a lob pass from Green to score on a scintillating alley-oop dunk on the break. He also did a good job of scoring on mid-range jumpers. Kuminga was able to run off of a pin-down to score on a bank shot from the mid-range, and he also showed a penchant for drawing free throws when hoisting up fadeaway jumpers. However, there was another play where he ended up missing on a step-back, mid-range jump shot.
On the downside, he struggled to score consistently off the dribble or in the post. For the positives, Kuminga was able to use a pump fake to score on a strong layup on a drive to the hoop. He also go to his left and drive hard to the hoop to get to the free throw line. However, he had a tendency to miss on tough shots in traffic, and he also would miss on contested, rushed turnaround jumpers in the post. Also, he was unable to connect on any of the spot-up threes that he hoisted up from beyond the arc.
Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Kuminga can throw passes from the post as well as off the dribble, and he will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving. He also handles the ball well. Sometimes he would throw catchable passes that his teammates would drop, and he also dropped a catchable lob pass in transition that led to a team turnover.
Kuminga did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would chase down balls to get numerous defensive boards, and sometimes he would push the ball quickly up the court afterwards. He also would sometimes tip balls to his teammates to help them get defensive rebounds. On the other hand, there was one play where he didn’t box out his man, which led his team to allow a put back score afterwards.
Defensively, he looked to be fairly average in this game. Kuminga was able to rotate to block a shot ferociously off a drive to a teammate, and he would sometimes actively defend opposing ball handlers to force passes and misses when he was dialed in. He also would contest jumpers to force his opponents to miss shots. On the downside, he tended to get caught and stuck on screens, which would leave open and lead to scramble situations. Other times, he wouldn’t hustle back on defense, which would lead his team to allow scores in transition. Other times, he would be caught ball watching and over-help in the paint, which would lead him to sag too far off of shooters and lose track of cutters on occasion.
Overall, Jonathan Kuminga didn’t have his best game, but he did rebound the ball well in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. He is a very talented prospect that has elite athletic gifts, but he will need to improve his outside shot, and he will need to give more effort defensively on a consistent basis. Still, he is likely a lock to be a top 5 pick, and he is a high upside prospect that could end up being a very good player in the NBA.
Isaiah Todd had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. He was able to knock down mid-range jumpers, and he also made some solid defensive plays, but he also committed too many turnovers on offense in this game. Todd showed a strong ability to score on mid-range jumpers. He would use pump fakes to score on smooth pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, and he also drew free throws on a step back, mid-range jumper another time. He also looked to score in the post once, but he brought the ball down and quickly had his shot blocked that time. Also, Todd was able to draw free throws after running in to help his team get an offensive rebound due to making a good hustle play on that possession.
He also tried to score on three-point shots from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, he was unable to connect from long-range, even though he moved well off the ball, his shooting form looked good, and he was able to run off of a flare screen to hoist up a three once.
On the downside, Todd was quite turnover prone on offense in this game. For the positives, Todd is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and he can throw solid interior passes as well as kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them. He also will set screens to help his teammates get open jump shots. However, he tended to commit ball-handling turnovers, and he especially struggled to handle the ball when heavily pressured. On a cut to the hoop, he was called for traveling due to having shuffled his feet, and so the turnaround layup he would’ve later scored on didn’t count because of that turnover. He also tended to have balls poked away when posting up, as he would hold the ball too long, and bring it down to expose basketballs to his defenders. He also was called for setting a moving screen, and he also dropped a catchable pass in the corner out of bounds another time.
He didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, but Todd was able to leap up to get several defensive rebounds, and he also was able to tip a ball to help his team get a defensive board another time. However, there was one play where he committed an aggressive, over the back foul when going for a loose ball.
Adding to that, Todd played fairly good defense in this game. He was able to rotate to block a shot hard off of a drive due to possessing good length, athleticism, and timing. He also managed to catch a ball that a teammate poked away to help his team get a steal. He also would rotate to contest jump shots to force misses due to possessing good length and positioning. However, sometimes he would get caught ball watching or on screens, which would lead him to be out of position and it would put his team in scramble situations. Another time, he sagged too far off of a shooter, which led him to allow an opponent to score on a three-point shot.
Overall, Isaiah Todd didn’t have his best game, but he is a talented prospect that can make some solid plays on both ends of the floor. He will need to be a more consistent player, and he will need to take smarter shots and limit his turnovers on offense. Still, he is a high upside prospect that could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the upcoming draft.
Princepal Singh played very well in limited minutes in his team’s loss to Salt Lake City. He showed off intriguing offensive skills, and his versatility as an offensive player could potentially allow him to get more playing time in the upcoming games, especially with Donta Hall currently being in the NBA due to having signed a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors.
Singh excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game. He was able to score on a powerful, two-handed dunk on a roll to the rim after he was able to slip the screen to get the ball. On the final play of this match, Singh was able to calmly knock down an open three-point shot off the catch.
He also passed the ball well. Singh is a mobile big man that can pass and handle the basketball. On one play, he was able to use a jab step and drive towards the hoop, and he was then able to kick a ball out from the post to find an open shooter to set up a scoring chance for his teammate. He showed flashes of his playmaking potential, and while he was unable to get an assist, he also did not turn the ball over on offense.
On the downside, Singh was not able to grab a rebound in his limited time on the court. Defensively, he looked to be fairly average. Singh has a good motor, and he would hustle back and rotate on opposing ball handlers to cut off driving lanes, and he would force them to pass the basketball. Sometimes though, he would not move his feet very well, as he would get beat quickly off the dribble even after rotating to help his teammates, which led him to commit a foul and to allow a score another time.
In summary, minutes have been hard to come by this season for Princepal Singh, but this was by far, his best game yet as a pro in the NBA G-League, and he turned in an impressive, fourth quarter performance when he was on the floor. While he may not possess elite physical tools, he is a high-motor player that can make solid hustle plays on both ends of the floor, and the three-point shot he made towards the end of the game is an encouraging sign that he could develop his outside shot to be a floor spacer on offense.
Right now, he will still need to find ways to get more playing time, and he will need to keep playing well when he does find his way into basketball games. He currently projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft, and if things break his way, Singh could end up being an effective role player similar to former journeyman forward, Eduardo Nájera in the NBA.
I had seen him play once in a basketball game that he played in against Serbia, and there is no doubt that Sotto is a talented prospect. He’s a tall, agile center that projects to be a defensive specialist in the NBA, and his size, athleticism, and instincts allow him to thrive as a shot blocker. However, it may be tougher for him to gain traction in the 2021 draft, as he has not played in any meaningful basketball games recently. He will need to test himself against high-level competition, and it will be important for him to show that he can consistently play well against top-notch opponents.
While he’s been able to score in the post and also block shots, he will need to show that he can play well at higher levels. Sotto has played in two known scrimmage games that were held by the G-League Ignite (box scores via Reddit), but he didn’t shoot well in either of those contests, and he seemed to bring mixed results in the scrimmages. In analyzing the data in those scrimmages, Sotto and Isaiah Todd looked to be about even in terms of their performances in the scrimmage games prior to the start of the season, but since then, Todd has gained valuable experience that has made him a fixture of his team’s rotation this season.
Currently, Sotto will need to improve his face-up game, extend his shooting range, and also show that he can consistently defend well both out on the perimeter and in the post. Given the circumstances he was facing, it was looking to be increasingly unlikely that he would get significant playing time in the NBA G-League, as he had left the bubble to try to play in the Asia Cup Qualifiers that were canceled, and he would’ve had to sit out in quarantine protocols if he were to come back.
In addition, he would’ve had to work his way into a rotation that was already set, and so it would have been hard for him to get on the court, especially since he’d have to battle with Amir Johnson, Isaiah Todd, and Jessie Govan for minutes, and there is always the possibility of Donta Hall can come back if the Raptors don’t extend him past his current 10-day contract. Even more so, there’s always the possibility that the G-League Ignite could downshift and play Kuminga at the four in a small-ball lineup, and so considering all this, the likelihood for Sotto to get minutes in the G-League this season were slim.
With Sotto deciding to part ways with the G-League Ignite recently, the ideal situation for him now might be if he can find a professional team to sign with immediately, but it will be imperative for him to be able to play in a setting where he can both face high-level competition on a consistent basis, and also get NBA teams and scouts to watch him play.
Currently, Sotto projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft. If things break his way, Kai Sotto could end up being an effective rotation player similar to Orlando Magic’s center, Khem Birch in the NBA.
Other Notes, Part II:
For the Salt Lake City Stars, Dallas Mavericks’ assignee and rookie forward, Tyler Bey had 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals, and he finished with a +16 in this game.
Malcolm Miller and Trevon Bluiett scored 16 points each, and they also made 4 three-pointers each. The Stars had six players score in double figures, which also included former Sacramento Kings’ guard, Yogi Ferrell, who had 12 points and 4 assists in this game.
As for the G-League Ignite, this loss drops them to 6-4 on the season, but there’s still plenty of time for them to win enough games to try to make the playoffs this year.