Assessing Izan Almansa, London Johnson, and Babacar Sane in a 2023 Intercontinental Cup Game
October 9th, 2023
By Alan Lu
With Perth’s 7-1 center Alex Sarr soaring up draft boards, I wanted to watch the G-League Ignite play in an Intercontinental Cup game to see if Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis could keep pace in the race to be the top pick for the 2024 draft. Therefore, I decided to watch the G-League Ignite play in a September 23rd game against Franca, with thanks to YouTube via Swish. Unfortunately, Buzelis did not play. On the bright side, Holland and Almansa did play in this game. Although Holland didn’t play particularly well, he had a strong second quarter stretch where he would score the basketball, and the G-League Ignite received strong performances from Izan Almansa, London Johnson, and Babacar Sane. Here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as where they may currently rate as prospects for the NBA. Also, for those that are interested in the box score of this game, here is the link.
Izan Almansa is a very skilled big man whose strong scoring and playmaking skills combined with having a terrific motor makes him a likely candidate to go in the lottery for the 2024 draft.
(Photo: Ashok Kumar/NBAE via Getty Images)
Izan Almansa played well in his team’s loss to Franca. He is an agile, skilled big man that excelled as a shooter and passer, and he showed off strong all-around skills to help his team in this game.
Almansa shot the ball very well, especially from deep. He was able to pull up to make an open three-pointer. He also was able to knock down a wide-open, corner three off the catch. Plus, he showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays, and he was able to drive up court and use a subtle Euro-step move to score once. He didn’t take many shots and didn’t seem to be quite as effective at scoring out of the post, but he did do a good job of drawing free throws when looking to score around the basket.
He also displayed good playmaking skills. He excelled at making passes off the dribble and out of the post to notch assists, and he showed that he can aptly find open teammates on the move to get the ball to them. He also was able to set an on-ball screen to help his teammate get an open driving lane to get his shot off. Sometimes, he would throw passes that his teammates wouldn’t be ready for, but Almansa generally made good passes and showed good court vision.
Plus, Almansa did a great job of rebounding the basketball. He was very active in crashing the glass to get rebounds, and he was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor. He also was able to push the ball up the floor off of a defensive board once. But there was one play where he was called for pushing an opponent in the back on a defensive rebounding attempt due to over-aggressiveness.
He also played satisfactory defense. He is an active help defender, and he was able to jump on an errant pass to get a steal. He also would close out on shooters to force misses, and he would poke balls and deflect passes to help his team get deflections. On the other hand, sometimes he would over-help and play too aggressively, which would lead him to be out of position and lead his team to give up open jump shots.
In general, Izan Almansa had a solid showing, and he has played very well so far this season. He is a smart, skilled big man that has shown a polished skill set, and he could be a likely lottery pick in the 2024 draft.
London Johnson also had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Franca. He is an agile, skilled playmaker that excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he excelled at making shots when he was on the floor.
Johnson showed a knack for knocking down outside shots in this game. He was able to dribble off of a screen to make a smooth, pull-up, mid-range jumper. He also was able to make an open, spot-up three off the catch. He also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He was able to use dribble moves to score on a drive in transition while getting fouled. He also utilized a strong drop step move to score on a bank shot off of a quick cut to the hoop. Johnson showed solid balance, quickness, and scoring touch to score the basketball against Franca.
Also, Johnson showed off adequate playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that showed the willingness to move the basketball, and he was able to make a drive and kick pass to notch an assist. On the other hand, he would sometimes try to be too fancy, as he tried a behind-the-back dribble move but lost the ball that led him to commit a turnover that time.
Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Johnson was able to leap up to get a board on each end of the floor. Defensively, he looked to be about average at best. For the positives, he has quick feet and would apply ball pressure to guard opposing ball handlers. He was able to stay in front of a drive to force a miss. He also will poke balls away and get his hands up in passing lanes to help his team get steals and deflections. On the downside, he really struggled to defend in the post, as his lack of size and strength made it difficult for him to guard taller, stronger players, and it would result in his team to allow scores. He also would sometimes not move his feet well when defending opposing ball handlers, which would lead him to get beat off the dribble and commit fouls.
In summary, London Johnson did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he was able to make some savvy buckets to help his team on offense. He’ll still need to be a more consistent defender in games, but he was one of the better players for his team in this game, and he looks to be an underrated prospect that could end up going in the late first to the second round range for the 2024 draft.
Babacar Sane also had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Franca. He is an athletic, energetic forward that excelled as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder, and he played well when he was on the floor.
Sane showed a knack for scoring in one-on-one situations. He was able to make a smooth, step-back corner three to show his range. He used a quick ball fake to drive hard to the hoop to score on a smooth, switch of hands layup. He also utilized a strong drop step move to score out of the post.
Plus, he also would draw free throws after looking to score on hustle plays. On the downside, he didn’t take enough shots on offense, but he excelled at scoring the basketball both inside and out.
Also, Sane showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball, and he was able to leap up to crash the glass to haul in boards. He also was able to push the pace off of a defensive board once. Sometimes though, he would haul in boards in his area, as a ball went off his hands once, and he got outmuscled on a defensive rebound attempt another time that led his team to give up an offensive rebound another time.
Defensively, he looked to be fairly average. For the positives, he would close out on three-point shooters to force misses. On the downside, he would tend to give up too much space to shooters, which would lead his team to give up open jump shots.
Overall, Babacar Sane played well, as he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor. He especially thrived as a shot maker and rebounder, and he is an athletic, skilled forward that could end up going in the late first to the second round range for the 2024 draft.
Tyler Smith had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Franca. He is an athletic, energetic big man that grabbed plenty of rebounds and blocked shots, but he didn’t shoot the ball well, and he also had some defensive struggles in this game.
Smith was active in looking to score on hustle plays. He was able to score on a quick, backdoor cut. He also ran the floor to score on a dunk. He also showed a knack for drawing free throws after looking to score on energetic, off-ball motion plays. Sometimes though, he would be prone to rushing, which would lead to misses.
He also did an adequate job of scoring around the basket. Smith was able to catch a lob to score on a thunderous alley-oop dunk. On the other hand, after running to get the ball in the post, he airballed a jump hook that led to a miss. He also missed both of his three-point attempts, despite being open to shoot the ball from beyond the arc.
He also showcased perhaps above average playmaking skills. Smith was able to save a ball to help his team get an offensive rebound, as he passed it quickly in mid-air to a teammate to set up a score for him. However, there was one play where he mishandled the ball and lost it out of bounds that led him to turn the ball over.
Smith also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to leap up to get a handful of boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to push the pace off of a defensive board once. Defensively, he looked to be about average. He got off to a slow start, as he had some trouble defending out on the perimeter in the first half, but he was able to make some impactful shot blocks in the fourth quarter. Smith showed a knack for swatting shots to help his team protect the paint. Plus, he would contest threes to force some misses, and he would get his hands on balls to help his team get steals. On the downside, he would sometimes get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would play too aggressively and take bad gambles, which would put him out of position defensively. He also had a tendency to over-help in the paint and would give up too much space to open shooters, which would lead his team to allow three-point baskets.
Overall, Smith had his highs and lows, but he was able to make some impressive plays in his team’s loss to Franca. He is an athletic big man that can make plays on both ends of the floor, and he could end up being a second round pick for an NBA team in the 2024 draft.
Ron Holland didn’t have a great game, but he had a very good second quarter performance that enabled him to score for stretches. He struggled to make shots overall, and he didn’t quite have the defensive impact that was expected of him, but he still was able to make some solid plays at times.
Holland showed an adequate ability to knock down three-pointers. He was able to use a jab step to make a three-point shot smoothly. He also would’ve scored on an open, pull-up three, but it didn’t count as a whistle blew beforehand, so it was waved off.
Also, he was active in looking to score on hustle plays. Holland was able to score off of a backdoor cut, and he would make quick moves off the ball to get open that would enable him to finish plays at the rim.
He also did an adequate job of scoring off the dribble. Holland was able to drive hard to the hoop and used a pro hop move to score and get an extra free throw. He also showed that he can take on the contact to get to the free throw line. However, he would sometimes be prone to rushing, and he also would sometimes be too predictable with his moves, which would lead him to miss on contested shots around the basket. He also had trouble making mid-range jumpers off the dribble. He had trouble finding his shooting touch from that range, and he would be prone to rushing a bit too much. He had a tendency to take tough, contested shots, which probably hurt his shooting percentages in this game.
He didn’t seem to be too noticeable as a playmaker in this game. He would sometimes move the basketball, but he wasn’t able to notch an assist on offense. There were times where he struggled to handle the ball when pressured, and he also threw a pass that got deflected to a teammate, but Holland did not turn the ball over once against Franca.
Also, Holland did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. When he was on the floor, he would chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to push the ball up the floor off of a defensive board once.
Defensively, he looked to be about average at best in this game. For the positives, he would consistently contest shots in the post, which would enable him to force misses. However, he had some trouble defending opponents in the post at times, as he would get outmuscled and would then compound matters by playing too aggressively, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. He also didn’t always move his feet well, as he would get beat off the dribble by opponents that shouldn’t have gotten past him. In this game, he was very foul prone, and he ended up fouling out in a little under twelve minutes of playing time.
Overall, this was not a very good showing from Ron Holland, and he will need to improve his shooting, shot selection, and decision-making skills moving forward. Still, he is a very athletic, energetic swingman that can make highlight reel-worthy plays on both ends of the floor, and despite not playing well in this game, he still has the talent to be a likely lottery pick for the 2024 draft.All in all, those are my thoughts on how Izan Almansa and other various prospects fared in this game. Thanks for reading.