Evaluating the G-League Ignite In Their Eighth Game

February 22nd, 2021

By Alan Lu

In the second game of a back-to-back, it was expected that the G-League Ignite would come in a bit tired and exhausted from having played the night before, but there was still a game for them to play against Long Island.  However, it seemed that Long Island was able to steadily build upon their lead, which led them get a double-digit victory in what was both a strong performance by Long Island, and an abysmal team performance by the G-League Ignite.  Also, for those that are interested in the box score of this game, here is the link.

For the G-League Ignite, Jalen Green still managed to score 21 points on 8 of 12 shooting, and he made 5 threes in his team’s loss to Long Island.  Offensively, he was terrific in this game. However, the G-League Ignite was plagued with frequent bouts of bad defense, as they really struggled with their pick and roll coverage, and their players had a tendency to over-help and give up on plays on the defensive end.  The G-League Ignite struggled against the strong point guard play of former Brooklyn Nets’ guard, Jeremiah Martin, who scored 24 points and had 8 assists in this game, as well as the strong all-around performance of Brooklyn Nets’ assignee and rookie center, Reggie Perry, as he also scored 21 points in Long Island’s win.  Here are my thoughts on how Jalen Green, Todd, Kuminga, and Nix fared in this game, as well as where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

The G-League Ignite’s Jalen Green scored 21 points and made 5 three-pointers in his team’s double-digit loss to the Long Island Nets in an NBA G-League game that took place today.
(Photo:
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images, via USA Today Sports)

Jalen Green played fairly well in his team’s double-digit loss to Long Island.  He shot the ball really well from downtown, and he did a tremendous job of scoring the basketball.  However, he was quite turnover prone, and while he made some good defensive plays at times, he also made too many careless defensive mistakes in this game.

Green did an excellent job of knocking down jumpers to provide floor spacing from beyond the arc.  He showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes off the catch, and he also would effortlessly score on smooth pull-up jumpers both from the mid-range and from behind the three-point line.

He also showed a good ability to score off the dribble.  He was able to use a pump fake to score on an acrobatic, switch of hands layup off of a drive to the hoop.  Green also generally excelled at pulling up to make jumpers off the dribble.  However, sometimes he would try to rush plays, as he had a couple of shots blocked, one off of a drive in transition, and another off of a cut to the basket.

On the downside, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, Green was able to throw a couple of crisp, accurate interior passes to find roll men on the move due to possessing solid court vision and passing skills, and he also can kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them.  However, sometimes he would over-dribble into traffic, as he was called for a charging foul and had the ball ripped away from him due to recklessness.  He also threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds on a separate possession.

Also, he was able to leap up to get his fair share of defensive rebounds in this game, and he would usually bring the ball up the floor after getting them.  Sometimes though, he would mistime his jumps when going for defensive rebounds, as he would sometimes not be able to get boards in his area.

Defensively, he generally struggled on this side of the ball.  Though he sporadically made some good defensive plays at times, he also had a litany of bad defensive possessions, as his porous on-ball defense seemed to negate the good plays he made on the defensive end overall.  On the plus side, Green is an active, athletic help defender whose gambles can pay off when he’s able to get steals and blocks.  He would jump passes to get steals, and he also ran in to jump on a loose ball an opposing ball handler lost to get another.  Plus, he was able to aggressively rotate on a drive to block a shot out of bounds.  He also would sometimes stay in front of opponents on drives and get into their body to force misses, and he also was able to get opponents to miss on a couple of jumpers. 

However, he would tend to get caught and stuck on screens, and he would tend not to fight through them and would just give up on plays, which would lead his team to allow scores to opponents on rolls to the rim.  Late in this game, he got stuck on a screen and ended up switching to defend the much bigger and taller, Reggie Perry in the post, but he got overpowered and manhandled down low to allow an easy bucket around the basket.  He also would tend to over-help in the paint and lose track of cutters and shooters, and he also would sometimes bite on pump fakes.  Other times, his effort on the defensive end would be lacking.  There were numerous times where he would not move his feet very well, as he would get beat off the dribble or not get back on defense, which would lead him to allow scores to opponents that he should’ve been able to stop otherwise.

In general, Jalen Green had a fairly solid showing, and he had a strong offensive game, even though he and his team defended really poorly overall.  Green reminded people why he is considered to be a lock to be a top 5 pick in the 2021 draft, and he’s been building up a case to be the top pick on draft day.  Green is a very talented prospect whose vast athleticism combined with his strong scoring skills could likely enable him to be one of the best players to come out of the 2021 draft class.

Jonathan Kuminga didn’t play very well in his team’s loss to Long Island.  He’s really struggled with his outside shot lately, which has hurt his shooting efficiency, but was particularly troublesome is that he seems to have consistently not given great effort on the defensive end recently, and he’s tended to make plenty of defensive mistakes that he shouldn’t be making in games.  He ended up scoring 10 points, but he made just 3 of 11 shots, and his inability to consistently play well in this game was quite frustrating today.

One of the strongest parts of his game in the half court is his solid ability to score on post-up situations.  Kuminga has very good footwork, agility, and shooting touch to consistently score on the block, and he would take advantage of scoring when he would get post touches.  He was able to use a quick shoulder fake to score on a nice, turnaround, fadeaway jumper.  He also drew free throws on a strong, up and under move another time.  However, he just hasn’t been able to get many post touches lately, and so when he’s not shooting well nor getting many chances to score on low-post situations, and if opponents get back on defense to limit his fast break opportunities, Kuminga ends up struggling more in the half-court because his inability to consistently make outside shots gets exposed to his defenders.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Early on, Kuminga was able to score on a tough layup off of a backdoor cut, while drawing an extra free throw afterwards.  However, the other team made sure to stay attached to him to limit his ability to get the ball off of cuts, and the opposing team did an excellent job of getting back on defense to prevent him from getting any chances to score on fast breaks.  This really hurt Kuminga offensively, because he wasn’t able to get easy buckets because the other team would deny him the opportunity to get the ball off of cuts or in transition.

However, Kuminga didn’t look to score off the dribble that often, and he ended up missing on a dunk attempt on a left-handed drive to the hoop.  He also shot the ball poorly in this game.  He did move off the ball to make an open, spot-up three, but he struggled to make three-pointers consistently, and he really had trouble making pull-up jumpers in this game.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  For the positives, Kuminga would make the extra pass to find the open man, and he was able to get the ball to shooters to notch a pair of assists.  He also can throw solid interior passes, and he was able to throw an accurate lob pass to a roll man to set up a scoring chance another time.  However, he would also tend to telegraph his passes, as he had a couple of them intercepted by his defenders.  He also dropped an inaccurate interior pass out of bounds that led to another team turnover. Though he didn’t get many rebounds in this game, Kuminga was able to leap up to get several defensive boards, and he was able to push the ball up the court off of a defensive rebound once.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, he is an active, athletic help defender whose gambles can pay off when he can get the team steals and blocks.  Kuminga was able to pounce upon a loose ball off of a poorly thrown pass to get a steal, and he would get his hands on balls to get steals and deflections in this game.  He also was able to poke a ball out of bounds to nearly force another turnover.  He also was able to close out on a three-point shooter to force a miss another time.  However, he would tend to get beat off the dribble by opponents that shouldn’t go by him, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Sometimes he would give up on plays, other times, he would suddenly stop moving his feet, which would lead him to foul his opponents.  He also got caught and stuck on a screen once, which led his team to allow a score to a roll man.  Another time, he didn’t pick up a man in transition, as his team ended up allowing a three-point basket that time.

Overall, Jonathan Kuminga just didn’t play very well in his team’s loss to Long Island.  What was frustrating was that, not only did he not shoot the ball very well, but there were times where it seemed that he just didn’t give very good effort at all on the defensive end.  He is capable of playing so much better on both ends of the floor, but he hasn’t played nearly as well after having excelled in the first three games of the season.  There is no doubt that he is a tremendously talented player, but he will need to improve his outside shot, and he will need to give more effort defensively.  Still, he is a high-level prospect that still looks to be a lock to go in the lottery, and he could end up being a solid starter similar to former Memphis Grizzlies’ star forward, Rudy Gay in the NBA.

Isaiah Todd had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Long Island.  He shot the ball well early in the first half, as he showed that he can score on some very tough shots, but then, he continued to take tough shots, which hurt his shooting percentages, and he also didn’t defend very well overall in this game.

Todd did a decent job of scoring in the post.  Early on, he would score on tough, turnaround fadeaway jumpers.  He has a quick shoulder fake that he can use to get his shot off, and he possesses good footwork, balance, and shooting touch to be able to knock down those shots.  He also was able to draw fouls when shooting the ball from the block to get to the free throw line.  However, he had some trouble consistently scoring on fadeaway jumpers later on, as he wasn’t able to find his shooting touch in the second half.

He also was able to score on hustle plays.  Early on, Todd scored on a powerful, two-handed dunk off of a quick, backdoor cut to the hoop.  However, he also tended to have his shots rejected, as he had one swatted off of a cut, as well as off of a put back attempt another time, and he would sometimes tend to go up too softly in traffic.

He also had trouble consistently knocking down jumpers in this game.  He had trouble making mid-range shots, and he also missed on an open, corner three from beyond the arc another time. Todd didn’t stand out as a playmaker in this game, but he can handle the basketball.  However, there was one play where he held the ball in the high post for too long, and he ended up getting the ball ripped away from him to commit a turnover. He didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, but Todd was able to leap up to get a board on each end of the floor.

However, he struggled defensively in this game.  For the positives, he is an active, athletic help defender whose gambles can pay off when he gets blocks and steals for his team.  Todd was able to intercept an errant pass thrown right to him to get a steal, and he also ran in to get a poked ball off of a drive to help his team get another.  He also rotated to block a shot off of a roll to the rim due to making a good rotation, and to having the length, athleticism, and timing to do so.  He also was able to contest a three to force a miss on a separate play.  On the downside, he generally struggled to defend opponents out on the perimeter, as he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Sometimes, he wouldn’t immediately pick up a man, and he would sometimes tend to be late on his rotations.  Another time, he over-helped on a drive, but left his man open around the basket, which led his team to give up a dunk on a roll to the rim.

In summary, Isaiah Todd had a solid first half offensively, but it was all downhill from there, as he struggled to make shots afterwards, and his defensive effort was a bit lacking at times, as he would tend to allow opponents to score that shouldn’t have.  Todd is a very athletic big man that can shoot the basketball, and he has shown versatility as a player that can play out on the perimeter on both ends of the floor.  However, he will need to take smarter shots, as he has a tendency to take really difficult shots that can hurt his shooting percentages, and he will need to be a more disciplined defender when he is on the floor.  Still, he is an intriguing prospect that may possess considerable upside, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2021 draft.

Of all of the draft-eligible prospects that played today against Long Island, the G-League Ignite’s 6-5 point guard, Daishen Nix frustrated and annoyed me the most in this game.  He had an atrocious first half, as he kept making one defensive mistake after another, he had trouble scoring early on, and he also was quite turnover prone in the first half.  He was a defensive liability in the first half, and his lack of elite foot speed or effort on the defensive end really seemed to hinder him on the court.  He played poorly for most of this game, but Nix did play much better in the fourth quarter.  However by then, the game was already decided, as his team was pretty much out of the contest when he started playing better as a scorer and facilitator in this match.

Nix is an unselfish player, perhaps to a fault, and he didn’t look to score often early on.  He did show a decent ability to score off the dribble, and he was able to score on a powerful left-handed drive to the hoop late in this game.  He also can draw fouls when handling the basketball.  However, he ended up missing on an off-balanced layup on an aggressive drive another time.

He also did an adequate job of scoring in the post.  Nix was able to score on a put back off of his own miss late in this match.  He also backed his man down, and used a pump fake to draw free throws on a turnaround jumper, as he has the strength to absorb the contact to get fouled.  However, sometimes he would not go up strong, as he missed on a drop step, step-through leaner in traffic, and he also had a shot blocked from the blind side another time.

Also, Nix didn’t look to take nearly enough jumpers in this game, but he ended up missing on a step-back, pull-up three on his lone, three-point attempt from beyond the arc.  In this game, he didn’t seem to trust his outside shot, and when he was given a chance to knock one down from beyond the arc, he didn’t, and the combination of being both too passive and not being able to shoot well from the outside really seemed to hurt his team offensively.

In addition, he was quite turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, Nix was able to throw a couple of strong, accurate interior passes to teammates on the move to set up scores for them due to possessing solid court vision.  He was able to drive hard to the hoop to make a drop-off pass in transition, and he also threw an accurate lob pass to a cutter.  However, he would also tend to throw lazy entry passes that would get intercepted, and he also threw an inaccurate interior pass that sailed out of bounds.

On the plus side, Nix is a very strong rebounder, especially for a guard his size, and he showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  He would crash the glass to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to push the ball up the court after getting a defensive board once.

However, he really struggled defensively in this game.  Defense is probably the weakest part of Nix’s game, and in the first half, when he was not scoring the basketball or ringing up assists, he was essentially useless when he was on the court.  Nix is not very fast or quick, as he might be one of the slowest point guard prospects in this year’s draft, and his lack of foot-speed and his tendency to have lapses and not give full effort really made it easy for opponents to score when he was on the court.  He had a tendency to over-help and wander too far into the paint, and he would often give up way too much space to shooters to allow scores to them.  Other times, he would struggle to defend quicker guards, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he wouldn’t hustle back or make timely rotations, and he would give his opponents free lanes to score at the rim.  On the plus side, he was able to run back to intercept an outlet pass to get a steal late in the third quarter, as he was able to make a good hustle play that time.

Overall, Daishen Nix really struggled for most of this game, and he put forth an abysmal performance for most of the way.  He didn’t make a field goal until less than 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, as he was able to make both of his field goals afterwards, but by then, his team was already down by double-digits, as his team had been down by 17 when he made his first field goal, and they were pretty much out of the game by then.   

Amongst the four draft-eligible prospects that played today against Long Island, Nix might be the most overrated prospect, and he also may have the lowest upside amongst them.  Sure, he has good size and strength to play the point guard position, which can help him scorer in the post and on isolation plays, but he’s not a very good outside shooter, and he’s consistently been a poor defender on the court. 

His lack of foot speed or quickness really makes it difficult for him to guard opposing point guards, and it’ll make it tough for him to consistently score at the NBA level, which especially can be the case since he hasn’t proven himself to be consistent long-range threat.  Nix’s ability to overpower smaller defenders and rack up assists as a table setter could enable him to be a backup point guard in the NBA, but he might have the lowest ceiling out of the four, as his lack of elite athleticism, defensive skills, or outside shooting ability will make it tough for him to expand past that role.  Right now, I do think Daishen Nix will end up getting drafted, as he could end up being a likely pick in the second round range of the 2021 draft, but he will need to develop his outside shot more and show more of a commitment to the defensive end moving forward.  At the NBA level, he likely would project to be a situational use, backup point guard, but in a favorable scenario, he could end up being a reliable role player at that level similar to former Los Angeles Lakers’ guard, Jordan Farmar in the association.

Other Notes:

As mentioned above, Long Island’s point guard, Jeremiah Martin dominated this match, as he scored 24 points and had 8 assists in his team’s win over the G-League Ignite. Also, Brooklyn Nets’ assignee and rookie center, Reggie Perry scored 21 points, and he showed off versatile scoring skills, and both Martin and Perry did an excellent job of running the pick and roll game to help their team to consistently score on offense.

It was expected that Perry would play well, as he was a former rotation player that had just been getting backup center minutes on a very good Brooklyn Nets’ team weeks ago, but it was a little bit of a surprise that Jeremiah Martin was able to dominate with such ease in this game, as he went up against former NBA veterans, Jarrett Jack and Bobby Brown, as well as point guard prospect, Daishen Nix.

Also, B.J. Johnson played very well, as he scored 19 points on 8 shots for Long Island, and Tariq Owens and C.J. Massinburg also scored in double figures for their team.

For the G-League Ignite, Donta Hall had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Brandon Ashley scored 16 points in this game.

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