Assessing Prospects in the G-League Ignite’s Fourth Game

February 15th, 2021

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch the G-League Ignite play against the Iowa Wolves in another highly competitive, hard-fought contest.  The G-League Ignite had won their first three games of the regular season, and as they had the best record in the league, it was expected that the other teams were going to try their hardest to prevent them from winning.  The third game of the G-League Ignite’s season was a very fun one to watch, but today, the Iowa Wolves seemed determined to make things much harder and more difficult on the prospects and the G-League Ignite.

The prospects on the G-League Ignite’s team struggled considerably more than in the previous game, but they still received solid play from Jalen Green, whose strong all-around game helped lead his team to a win and to a 4-0 record so far.  Here are my thoughts on how Green and the others fared on this day.  Also, for those that are interested in the box score of this game, here is the link.

The G-League Ignite’s Jalen Green played well in this game, as he scored 22 points to help his team defeat the Iowa Wolves.
(Photo:
Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images via AFP, via The Philippine Star)

Jalen Green had a solid showing in his team’s win over the Iowa Wolves.  He played a solid all-around game, and he quietly made strong plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory.  He scored 22 points on 11 shots, and he also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists in this game.

Green did a terrific job of scoring off the dribble.  He has very good speed, body control, and finishing ability to score consistently in the paint.  He was able to score on a tough, fallaway layup, and he was able to get plenty of hang time to score at the rim.  He also drove in to score on a smooth layup another time.  He also caught a long pass and drove in to score on a high-flying, two-handed dunk on the break.  Plus, Green showed a penchant for drawing many free throws by driving hard to the basket.

He also did an adequate job of knocking down jumpers in this game.  Green did a terrific job of drawing fouls on pull-up jumpers to get to the free throw line.  He also managed to run off of a ball screen to make a spot-up three, and Green also dribbled off of a screen to effortlessly knock down a pull-up three to provide floor spacing for his team.  He was rather streaky with his jump shot, but he was effective at scoring on outside shots.

Green displayed good playmaking skills in this game.  He is an unselfish player that would often find open shooters to set up scores for them, and he also throws solid entry passes to his teammates.  He also led the break and threw a crisp interior pass to set up a score for a teammate in transition.  However, sometimes he would commit some ball-handling turnovers.  On one play, he committed a charging foul on a controversial call that took a score off the board on his drive to the rim.  He also over-dribbled and held the ball too long, which led him to get the ball ripped away by an opponent.  He also threw an inaccurate kick out pass that sailed into the backcourt another time, leading to an over and back violation.

Also, Green did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes push the ball up the court to create transition scoring opportunities for his team.

Green also played good defense in this game.  He was able to intercept an errant pass to get a steal, and he also would deflect passes to nearly force other turnovers.  He also excelled at contesting jumpers to force plenty of misses, and he showed good quickness to defend opponents out on the perimeter.  He also was able to guard an opponent in the post, as he stayed with his man on a spin move, and he contested the shot to get the stop that time.  However, sometimes he would take bad angles when defending screens, as he would sometimes go too far under the screen to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.

In general, Jalen Green played well in his team’s win over the Iowa Wolves.  He is a versatile player that had a strong all-around game.  He is a very talented player that looks to be a lock to be a top 5 pick of the 2021 draft, and he could end up being a very good player in the NBA. 

G-League Ignite’s 6-10 forward, Isaiah Todd didn’t quite play nearly as well as he did in the previous game, but he still was able to get several really solid scores to show off his shooting ability and potential.  He had trouble knocking down shots consistently though, and he also had some turnovers and defensive woes in his team’s win over the Iowa Wolves.

Todd showed a satisfactory ability to score in the post.  He used a spin move to score on a baseline, turnaround jump hook.  He also scored on a quick, fadeaway turnaround jumper, and he possesses good footwork and shooting touch to do so.  However, sometimes he would struggle to seal his man to get low-post position.  There was another play where he posted up, and drove in from the high post, but missed too hard off the glass.  He also attempted to score on a right-handed drive to the hoop, but he ended up missing on a switch of hands layup in traffic completely.

He also showed an adequate ability to knock down mid-range jumpers.  Todd used a jab step to effortlessly make a smooth jumper from the mid-range.  However, he struggled to make them consistently, and he also missed one early on that rattled in and out.  Todd also hoisted up a couple of spot-up threes off the catch, but he was unable to connect on any of the three-point shots he took from beyond the arc.

On the downside, Todd was fairly turnover prone on offense.  He is an unselfish player that would make the extra pass to keep the ball moving.  He also threw an interior pass to a roll man to notch an assist, as he was able to throw a nice pass over the top of a defender.  He also handles the ball well.  However, he was called for an offensive foul off the ball when posting up, even though the opponent appeared to be pushing him out of the lane.  He also telegraphed an entry pass that got intercepted another time.

Also, he was able to leap up to get several defensive rebounds in this game.  Defensively, Todd looked to be about average at best.  He was able to rotate to alter a shot off of a baseline drive to force a miss.  He also stayed in front of an opposing ball handler on a switch, and contested a shot off of a drive to get another stop for his team.  On the downside, he would tend to get caught ball watching, which would lead him to be late on his rotations and to get beat on cuts to the hoop.  He also tended to sag too far off of shooters, which would lead his team to give up three-point baskets to his opponents.

In summary, Isaiah Todd didn’t quite play nearly as well as he did in the previous contest, but he still showed a solid shooting touch, even if he didn’t quite shoot the ball that well in this game.  He especially showed a knack to score in the post as well as from the mid-range.  He will need to be a more consistent player in games, but he is an athletic, skilled big man that could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2021 draft.

Daishen Nix also didn’t play nearly as well as he did in the previous match, but he did play better in the second half, as he was able to knock down a pair of threes, and he excelled as a facilitator and rebounder to help his team get the win over the Iowa Wolves.

Nix showed a solid ability to knock down three-point shots from beyond the arc.  He was able to make a three from way out after using a pump fake to get his shot off.  He also made an open, corner three off of a kick out.  He struggled more to score on pull-up jumpers, and he had trouble scoring on drives to the basket, as he generally had trouble scoring in traffic.  On the plus side, he was able to score on a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound.

He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills in this game.  Nix is a patient player that will probe the defenses, and he tended to throw good interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He can find teammates on the move, and he also can kick balls out to shooters to set up scores for them.  He also will set off-ball screens for his teammates.  On the downside, he threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds due to miscommunication.  He also dribbled a ball clumsily off of himself, as he lost it out of bounds another time.

Also, Nix showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  He would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to push the ball up the court off of a defensive rebound once.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  Nix was able to leap up to intercept a crosscourt pass to get a steal.  He also was able to contest a three, and he also held his ground when defending in the post to force some misses.  He also showed the willingness to fight through screens, as well as to hustle back to guard the opposing ball handler on the defensive end.  However, sometimes he would take bad angles when defending screens.  Another time, he whiffed on a steal attempt and ended up out of position.  He also sometimes will struggle to guard quicker players, which can put his team in scramble situations.

Overall, Daishen Nix had his ups and downs in his team’s win over the Iowa Wolves, but he seemed to play better as the game progressed.  He will need to be a more consistent player in games, but his ability to score and run the team effectively at the point could make him a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Jonathan Kuminga had been the most consistently productive player on the G-League Ignite’s team during the first three games of the regular season.  Unfortunately, his performance against the Iowa Wolves was a significant let down, as he really struggled to knock down shots in this game.  He did finish the game with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, a block, and a +16, but he also scored just 7 points on 3 of 13 shooting today.

Kuminga showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble in this game.  He tended to favor going to his left, and he was able to score on a strong layup early on.  He also used a ball fake, drove right, spun to his left, used another ball fake, and then scored on a bank shot on a mid-range floater in traffic.  However, Kuminga tended to miss on tough, contested jumpers from the mid-range, and sometimes he would take rushed, off-balanced shots that would miss when he would not be able to get foul calls.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Kuminga was able to score on a strong put back after grabbing his own miss to get an offensive rebound.  He also made a good cut to the rim once, though his teammate did not find him on the move that time.  On the downside, the Iowa Wolves made it their mission to not allow many fast break points, and so Kuminga was not able to get out in transition to score on fast breaks, as the other team consistently made sure to get back on defense.

Also, Kuminga was unable to make any of his three-point shots from beyond the arc.  He’s been very streaky as a three-point shooter, as that might be the weakest part of his game from an offensive standpoint right now.  He missed on all five of his three-point shots, even though he was able to get numerous open looks to try to score on catch-and-shoot opportunities.

He also showcased adequate playmaking skills.  Kuminga is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can pass out of the post as well as out in transition to set up scores for his teammates.  He showed solid court vision, and he would quickly find cutters, as he would tend to make good reads.  However, he would sometimes commit ball-handling turnovers.  He tried to barrel in on a drive to the hoop, but committed a charging foul.  Another time, he got the ball on a cut, but had it poked off of himself before it went out of bounds.  He also threw an inaccurate entry pass that led to another turnover.

He also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball.  Kuminga would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he has a keen nose for the basketball.  Also, he would sometimes bring the ball up after getting defensive rebounds for his team.

Plus, Kuminga played satisfactory defense in this game.  Kuminga would jump passes to get steals and deflections, he also pounced upon a loose ball, and he also poked a ball away to force another turnover.  He also rotated to block a shot in the post to a teammate due to possessing good length, athleticism, and timing.  He also did a good job of contesting jumpers to force misses.  However, sometimes he would gamble for steals and be caught ball watching, which would lead him to be out of position to allow scores to his opponents.  He also would sometimes struggle to guard opposing ball handlers, and there would be times where he wouldn’t quite contest shots when he would be in the area.

Overall, Jonathan Kuminga arguably turned in perhaps his first bad game of the G-League season, but he still made some solid plays on both ends of the floor, even though he struggled to shoot or score in his team’s win over the Iowa Wolves.  He has been his team’s most consistent performer over the first four games of the season, and he is a very talented player that looks to be a lock to be a top 5 pick of the 2021 draft.  He will need to improve his outside shot, but his solid all-around skills combined with having very good athletic gifts and upside could enable him to be a very good player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

For the G-League Ignite, former Brooklyn Nets’ center, Donta Hall scored 12 points, and had 16 rebounds and 4 blocks in the G-League Ignite’s win over the Iowa Wolves. Jarrett Jack and Jessie Govan scored 10 points each in this game. Kai Sotto has not made an appearance in the G-League regular season yet, and after his plans to play for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers fell through due to the cancellation of games, he has made his return trip to the United States.

What is unclear is how things will unfold for Sotto, or when he’ll play in games during the G-League regular season. Most likely, he’ll have to sit through COVID and quarantine protocols, and as Govan was a late add to the roster, it’s possible that the G-League Ignite may have to make some roster moves to clear a roster spot or more playing time for Sotto in the future.

There is also a legitimate concern that Sotto might get lost in the shuffle as the season has started without him, and he’ll have to battle Donta Hall, Amir Johnson, and Isaiah Todd for minutes in the big man rotation, and the G-League Ignite can always downshift to play Kuminga at the four or five in a small-ball lineup. My prediction is there may not be many minutes for Sotto when he returns, and he will most likely come off the bench, but he is a talented prospect that will have to make the most of his minutes when or if he is able to return to play in the NBA G-League.

As for the Iowa Energy, or I mean the Wolves, Tyler Cook had 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists, as he turned in a strong showing in his team’s loss to the G-League Ignite. Former New York Knicks’ guard, Allonzo Trier also scored 17 points in this game.

Elsewhere, Malachi Flynn scored 35 points, and he also had 8 assists and 7 rebounds in the Raptors 905’s win over Santa Cruz.

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