Thoughts On The G-League Ignite In Their Season Opener

February 10th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Today, I decided to take the time to watch Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Green, and the G-League Ignite play in their season opener against the Santa Cruz Warriors to kick off the 2020-21 NBA G-League season.  It’s an exciting time, because we get to watch a whole new group of prospects play in basketball games, and both Kuminga and Green are currently projected to be top 5 picks for the 2021 draft.  Kuminga has been dominating the G-League Ignite scrimmages, and Green and Daishen Nix have also played well for them. 

The G-League Ignite got off to a big lead early, but it was very competitive, and Santa Cruz clawed their way back to make it very close.  Still, the G-League Ignite were able to hold on to get the win, due to the strong performance of former NBA guard Jarrett Jack, and Kuminga, Green, and Nix all were able to make some solid plays in this game.  Here are my thoughts on how Kuminga, Green, Nix, and Isaiah Todd fared, as well as my first impressions on their performances in the G-League.  Also, for those that are interested in the box score, the link is here.

G-League Ignite’s Jonathan Kuminga scored 19 points, and he also had 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.
(Photo:
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jonathan Kuminga played fairly well in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.  He is a very athletic forward that showed off versatile scoring skills, and he showed off a solid set of all-around skills in this game.  He also made a key block late in this match to help seal the victory for his team.

Kuminga showed a good ability to score off the dribble.  He would tend to go to his right to score on quick layups, and he also used a hesitation move and a spin move to score and get an extra free throw another time.  He also would go hard to the hoop to draw fouls upon his defenders.  Also, he excelled at scoring on aggressive drives in transition, and he was able to use a hesitation move to score on a powerful, two-handed dunk.

Plus, he showed a knack for scoring in the post.  Kuminga was able to use a spin move to score on a crafty, reverse layup.  He also backed his man down, and he showed good body control and scoring touch to score on a turnaround jumper.  Plus, he also used a spin move to score on a layup off the glass.

On the downside, he struggled to consistently knock down jumpers from further out.  Kuminga was able to make an open, deep three off the catch midway through this match, but often would miss on three-point shots from beyond the arc, and he also would tend to miss on pull-up jumpers from the mid-range.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills in this game.  Kuminga tended to throw good interior passes, as he can find teammates on the move to set up scores for them, and he also is a good passer on the break.  He also was able to throw an accurate lob pass to find a cutter once.  He handles the ball well, and he also can lead fast breaks.  On the downside, he would sometimes telegraph his passes, as he threw a couple of balls that got intercepted.  He would sometimes struggle to handle the ball when pressured.  He had a ball ripped away from him in the post, and he also was called for a charging foul when trying to pass out of a drive on a separate possession.

Though Kuminga had rebounded the ball well in the G-League Ignite scrimmages, he did not grab many rebounds in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.  He was able to get a pair of defensive boards, and he was able to bring the ball up once off of a defensive rebound.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Kuminga is an athletic, rangy defender that can cover plenty of ground.  He excelled at blocking shots in this game.  He was able to swat a shot in the post, and he also made a key-game late game shot block off of a drive to a teammate to get a critical stop for his team.  He also would get his hands on passes to help his team get steals and deflections.  He also closed out on a three-point shooter to force a miss due to possessing solid length and timing.  However, sometimes he would get caught ball watching and over-help off of his man, as he would be late on his rotations.  Other times, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.  Another time, he was called for an off-ball foul trying to fight through a screen, as he had pushed an opponent down to try to do so.

Jonathan Kuminga turned in a solid performance to help lead the G-League Ignite to get the win over Santa Cruz.
(Source: Twitter/@ESPNNBA)

In general, Jonathan Kuminga is a very athletic, energetic forward that showed off a variety of skills in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.  He excelled at scoring inside the paint, and he also played unselfishly to get assists in this game.  He also did a good job of blocking shots, and he was able to get a clutch block late in this contest to help seal the win for his team.  He will need to be a more consistent outside shooter and a more focused defender, but his solid all-around skills combined with having a vast upside makes him a likely lock to be a top 5 pick in the 2021 draft.

Jalen Green scored 11 points, and he also grabbed 5 rebounds in the G-League Ignite’s opening day win over Santa Cruz.
(Photo:
Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images/Getty Images via AFP, via The Philippine Star)

Jalen Green had a decent showing in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.  While he didn’t exactly dominate as expected, he showed off his versatility and a wide array of skills, as he was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the floor.

Green showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  He would tend to favor going to his right, and he would drive hard to the hoop to score the basketball.  He also was able to score on an acrobatic, up and under layup off the glass.  Plus, Green also excelled at scoring in transition, and he was able to throw down a high-flying, two-handed, half-windmill jam on the break.

He also flashed the ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  Green was able to make a deep three off the catch, and he showed that he can capably score on spot-up threes to provide some floor spacing.  However, he struggled to score on pull-up jumpers, especially from the mid-range, and he also missed on a turnaround jumper from the post.

Also, Green showcased fairly average playmaking skills.  Green can throw solid interior passes to find roll men, and he also can kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them.  However, sometimes he would look to do too much off the dribble at times, which would occasionally lead him to commit turnovers.  He tried to split a double team, but he dribbled the ball off of his foot and lost it.  He also was called for a traveling violation once.  On another play, he used a behind-the-back crossover move, but he slipped and fell, and he ended up losing the basketball that time as well. Plus, Green did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would chase down balls to get plenty of defensive boards, and sometimes he would bring the ball up or push it up the court to create early offense for his team.

He also played adequate defense.  Green is an active defender that would apply considerable ball pressure on this end of the floor.  He was able to pounce upon a loose ball to help his team get a steal, and he also will actively poke balls and play passing lanes to help force additional turnovers.  He would actively contest jumpers, and he also was able to fight through a screen to stay with an opposing ball handler.  However, sometimes he would struggle to get around screens.  Other times, he would be caught ball watching, which would lead him to be out of position when defending quicker players out on the perimeter.  Another time, he committed a foul off the ball due to hand-checking.

NBA G-League Ignite’s Jalen Green made a handful of head-turning plays, as he scored 11 points in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.
(Source: Twitter/@nbagleague)

Overall, Jalen Green had some good moments in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.  He didn’t quite play up to the lofty expectations that were placed upon him, he still showed that he can score the basketball in a variety of ways, he rebounded the ball well, and he also showed some playmaking and defensive skills.  He will need to make more plays consistently, and he didn’t quite shoot as well nor get to the free throw line as much as expected.  Still, he is a very athletic swingman that showed a fairly high skill level and has a lot of upside, and he currently projects to be a top 5 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

G-League Ignite’s 6-5 point guard, Daishen Nix had a solid showing in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.  He especially played well in the first half, and he played like a savvy veteran that had been crafting his trade as well as pro moves for a while.  He was particularly effective as a scorer and facilitator, and his big frame and newly added strength really seemed to serve well him from an offensive standpoint.

Nix did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  He is a powerful guard that would go hard to the hoop, and he would tend to favor going to his left to score the basketball.  He also managed to use an overhead ball fake to score on a switch of hands layup on a drive in transition, and he also will absorb the contact to get to the free throw line.

He also used a savvy pump fake to draw free throws on a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  Nix also was able to make a deep three from way out on his lone three-point attempt in this game.   However, he struggled to consistently knock down pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, as he would sometimes try to flail in an unsuccessful bid to get foul calls.

Plus, he also displayed solid playmaking skills.  Nix is an unselfish player that has solid court vision, and he would throw good passes off the dribble to set up scores for corner shooters.  However, he did throw an inaccurate pass that went behind his teammate on a roll, as it ended up getting dropped by his teammate and then intercepted by an opponent. Also, Nix did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get his fair share of defensive boards, and he would either bring the ball up or push it quickly up the floor afterwards.

On the downside, Nix struggled defensively.  On the plus side, he would aggressively defend passes, as he was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he also helped force his opponent to drop a pass out of bounds another time.  He also managed to contest a three to force a miss.  Sometimes though, he will take bad gambles, as he will reach for steals, which can lead him to commit fouls, and also be out of position when guarding opposing ball-handlers when he misses on steal attempts.  He also would over-pursue ball handlers and get beat off the dribble, which would put his team in scrambling situations.  Another time, he didn’t even rotate or contest a layup in transition, as his team allowed a score that time.

Overall, Daishen Nix played well in his team’s win over Santa Cruz, and he looks to be a vital member of his team.  He especially was able to help give his team a boost off the bench, and his strong offensive skills really fueled his team in this game.  He will need to improve his defense, but his ability to score and distribute the basketball could make him a solid pick for an NBA team in the lottery range of the upcoming draft.

G-League Ignite’s 6-10 big man, Isaiah Todd also played in this game.  However, unlike the other three higher regarded prospects, Todd did not play nearly as well in his team’s win over Santa Cruz.  He did show some skills, but it seems that he may still have a ways to go in his quest to reach the NBA.

Todd showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  He is an athletic big man that plays a perimeter-oriented style, and it seems clear that he is comfortable in facing up to knock down jumpers in games.  On one good play early on, Todd was able to run quickly off the ball to make a smooth, mid-range jumper from the right elbow.  Later on though, he used a jab step, but missed on a baseline mid-range jump shot over a smaller defender.

He also struggled to finish plays around the basket.  On one play, he appeared to throw a ball off the glass from just inside the arc on a baffling decision to throw something up towards the net on a play where he essentially passed the ball to himself, and he then missed on a rushed, layup afterwards.  He also ran the floor hard to get the ball on the break, but he missed on a rushed layup in transition another time.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Todd was able to swing the ball to an open shooter to notch an assist, and he also can pass out of the post.  He is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and he also can handle the basketball.  He also set a good on-ball screen to help his teammate score on a drive to the hoop.  On the other hand, he also telegraphed a pass in the backcourt, as it got tipped and intercepted by a defender.

In this game, Todd didn’t grab many rebounds, but he would leap up to get several defensive boards against Santa Cruz. Also, he played adequate defense in this game.  Todd is an athletic, energetic big man that showed the potential to develop into a solid defender at the next level.  He was able to poke a ball away off of a drive, and he also tipped a poked ball to a teammate to help his team get steals and deflections.  He also would stay in front of opposing ball handlers, and he would ably contest shots off of drives, as well as a three-point shot to force misses. 

He almost was able to block a shot on a drive in transition, but he was called for a foul instead, as the referee felt he got the opponent with the body, even though it appeared that the opponent seemed to have exaggerated by flailing on the play.  On the downside, he can be quite undisciplined defensively.  He would tend to bite on pump fakes, which would lead him to be out of position when defending opposing ball handlers.  Sometimes, he would give his man too much space, and he would not always contest shots in time.  Another time, he didn’t effectively communicate a screen to his teammate, as his team allowed a corner three score early on.

Overall, Isaiah Todd didn’t have his best game, but he is a very athletic big man that showed that he may still possess considerable potential as a prospect for the NBA.  He will need more time to develop and hone his game, and it seems to be clear that he is definitively less polished than the other prospects on the G-League Ignite right now.  Still, he is a solid athlete that has shown some promising face-up skills as an offensive player, and he also could project to be a versatile defender over time.  It may take him a while to reach or be a reliable contributor in the NBA, but if he can one day, in a favorable scenario, Todd could end up being a solid role player similar to Denver Nuggets’ forward, JaMychal Green in the association.

Other Notes:

There were some current NBA players and ex-NBA players that played in this game.  Former New York Knicks’ star point guard, Jeremy Lin played well for the Santa Cruz, as he scored 18 points and notched 5 assists for Santa Cruz.  Lin shot the ball very well, as he excelled at making threes and at driving to the hoop to score the basketball, and he took on some hard hits on both ends of the floor.

Also for Santa Cruz, Jordan Poole scored 22 points and finished with a +22, and Nico Mannion had 17 points and 6 assists in this game.  Former Denver Nuggets’ guard, Axel Toupane notched a double-double, as he scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds for Santa Cruz. 

Former Detroit Pistons’ big man, and current G-League Ignite center Amir Johnson scored 8 points, and had 8 rebounds, and he was a +25 in the plus-minus column in this game.  Also, Brandon Ashley played well for the G-League Ignite, as he scored 17 points and had 9 rebounds in this game.

The player of the game was former Golden State Warriors’ point guard and current G-League Ignite guard, Jarrett Jack.  Jack scored 23 points on 9 of 10 shooting, he made all 3 of his threes, and he also made a free throw that counted as two points.  He displayed silky smooth shooting as he scored the basketball at will, and he was terrific in this match to help his team get the win over Santa Cruz.  If Jack keeps playing this well, he should earn a call-up back to the NBA, and he could provide an NBA team with some solid minutes this season.

Lastly, the G-League Ignite played very well under head coach Brian Shaw.  They are a solid developmental squad that looked to be well coached.  They’re introducing the young players to a lot of NBA concepts, which definitely will help them adjust to the NBA at some point in the future.  The G-League Ignite had a very good win today, and this Could serve them well moving forward.

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