Thoughts On the G-League Ignite’s First Game of the 2021-22 Season

October 29th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Today, I took the time to watch the G-League Ignite play in their first game of the season against Leandro Bolmaro and the Iowa Wolves.  The G-League Ignite looked really bad in the first half. They missed a lot of shots, were incredibly turnover prone, and they seemed to allow all sorts of open shots that led them to give up many points in that time span. 

The G-League Ignite followed up their sloppy first half performance by having a surprisingly strong second half, as they slowed the game down, and relied more on their veterans to try to take control of the game.  Bolmaro and the Wolves played very well in the first half but were sluggish in the third quarter, but after the Ignite managed to cut the lead to 6, the Wolves managed to play very well down the stretch to pull away to get the victory.  For those that are interested in the box score of this game, here is the link.    

In watching the draft-eligible prospects in this game, their performance overall was not great, but it could’ve been worse.  They played really poorly in the first half, but they started to make shots in the second quarter, and they played good defense in the second half.  By then, it was too little, too late, but that they stayed competitive throughout is a good sign for the young, G-League Ignite squad.

MarJon Beauchamp scored 18 points and had 8 rebounds for the G-League Ignite in their loss to the Iowa Wolves today.
(Photo:
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

MarJon Beauchamp had a decent showing in his team’s loss to the Iowa Wolves.  Among all of the 2022 draft eligible prospects that played in this game, Beauchamp may have had the strongest showing amongst them, as he managed to score on a number of eye-popping dunks, and he also finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Beauchamp did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  He particularly excelled at going to his left, and he was able to throw down a couple of thunderous dunks.  He also did a good job of pulling up to make mid-range jumpers.  While he didn’t go to his right very often, he was able to draw free throws on one half-court drive. 

He also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.   Beauchamp was able to score quickly in transition, and he also used a spin move to score once.  He also drew free throws on a put back attempt.  However, sometimes he would miss shots off of offensive rebounds, as he would sometimes rush his shots.  He also took several three-point shots, but he missed on all of his threes, despite taking them on spot-up opportunities off the catch.

He looked to be fairly average as a playmaker in this game.  Beauchamp can handle the ball in the open floor, and he was able to make drive and kick passes to find open shooters.  Sometimes though, he can be careless with the ball in his hands.  He threw a bounce pass that got intercepted.  When handling the ball another time, he ended up losing the ball in traffic that led to another turnover. Also, Beauchamp did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he would often chase down balls to get them on both ends of the floor.  He also would sometimes push the ball up the court after getting defensive rebounds.  On one play though, he didn’t box out, and it led his team to allow a tip-in score.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he did a good job of chasing after loose balls to help his team get steals.  He also managed to rotate to an opposing ball handler and applied considerable ball pressure to force a passing turnover.  On the downside, he tended to have lapses, as he didn’t always seem to give great effort on this side of the ball. He tended to be over-help in the paint, as he would be late to rotate back, and he would allow opponents to score on open threes.  He also would get beat off the dribble, which would put his team in compromised situations.

In general, MarJon Beauchamp played fairly well in this game, and he showed off very good scoring skills and athleticism, and he also made a concerted effort to grab rebounds when he was on the floor.  He will need to improve his three-point shot and be a more focused defender in games.  He’ll also need to show teams that he can effectively go to his right on a consistent basis.  He had a solid showing overall, and he could end up being a good pick for an NBA team in the mid first round range of the 2022 draft.

Jaden Hardy didn’t play very well overall in his much anticipated season debut against the Iowa Wolves.  He really struggled with his three-point shot, and he was mistake prone on both ends of the floor, as he would commit turnovers and also would commit a litany of defensive mistakes.  On the other hand, he showed some of scoring prowess in this game, as he would attack the hoop to score, and he also was able to make a slew of good passes.

Hardy did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  He was at his best when he would get a running start to get the ball, as he would then score on strong drives to the hoop.  He can finish plays using either hand, and he also would aggressively take the ball to the rim to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line often. Sometimes though, he would miss shots in traffic, especially when he wouldn’t get foul calls. He also was able to make a wide-open, corner three off the catch.  On the downside, Hardy missed on a lot of threes in this game, and he had trouble making threes off the catch or dribble on a consistent basis. Sometimes, he would be prone to hoisting up contested outside shots that would lead to ugly misses.

Also, Hardy showcased decent playmaking skills in this game.  He made a lot of turnovers early, but he was able to play much better when he played patiently, and he was able to show some solid court vision.  Hardy was able to throw accurate interior passes to find teammates on the move to notch assists, and he also would get the ball to open shooters.  He showed that he can effectively pass off the dribble, and he was able to make a drive and kick pass to set up a score another time.  On the downside, he can sometimes tend to over-dribble and do too much on offense.  He would sometimes lose the handle when looking to create plays on offense, and he also would sometimes throw inaccurate passes that would go astray.  He also stepped out of bounds another time shortly after catching the basketball once.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Hardy was able to haul in boards on both ends of the floor.  He also managed to push the ball up the floor off of a defensive rebound once. Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Hardy is an active help defender that will look to help his team force turnovers.  He was able to poke a ball away to help his team get a steal, and he also ran back to intercept a pass another time.  He also would contest shots to help his team force some misses.  On the downside, he would tend to be too aggressive on his close outs, as he ended up fouling a three-point shooter, and it also led his team to allow a mid-range basket another time.  He also would sometimes struggle to defend off the dribble or screens, which would lead him to commit touch fouls and allow scores as a result.

Overall, Jaden Hardy didn’t have a great game, but he also was able to show glimpses of his immense potential as a scorer and playmaker tonight.  On some occasions, he was able to get to the rim at will, and he also was able to show that he can make some nice pocket passes to get the ball to his teammates and rack up assists.  He’ll need to improve his outside shot and make less mental mistakes in games.  Right now, his draft stock is still very high, and he would likely project to be a top ten pick if the draft were held today.

Fanbo Zeng had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to the Iowa Wolves.  He really struggled on offense in the first half, but he followed that up by playing sound defense in the second half, which then seemed to give him the confidence to score and get some buckets to help his team on offense late in this game. Zeng was active as a scorer on hustle plays.  He ran the floor to score quickly on the break.  He also managed to get the ball on a backdoor cut, and he dribbled in aggressively to score on a fadeaway jumper off the glass while getting an extra free throw afterwards.  Sometimes though, he would rush his shots, and he would end up missing close-range shots in traffic.  He struggled to score more off the dribble, and he missed once on an awkward, half-court drive.

He also was able to show some range in this game.  Zeng was able to make an open corner three to help provide some floor spacing for his team on offense.  On the downside, his shot selection was fairly suspect at times, and he ended up missing on two deep, pull-up threes off the dribble. On the downside, he was fairly turnover prone on offense.  He especially seemed to struggle to create shots off the dribble.  On two baseline drives, he was called for traveling due to taking one too many steps.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Zeng was especially active at crashing the glass on both ends of the floor, and he has a keen nose for the ball.  He also played solid defense in this game.  Zeng did a very good job of rotating to block shots in the paint, and he was active at contesting shots to force misses.  He also was able to pounce on a loose ball to help his team come away with a steal.  He also managed to contest a corner three to force a miss.  He was an active defensive presence that consistently will challenge shots, and he did a good job of not giving up on plays.  On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to defend opponents off the dribble.  He also would occasionally be late on his rotations, which led him to give up a three-point basket once, and he also committed a goal-tend another time.

Overall, Fanbo Zeng showed promise on both ends of the floor, and he defended well late in this game.  Zeng showed that he can be a versatile defender that can guard out on the perimeter as well as in the paint, and he did a very good job of blocking shots.  While he struggled to play well on offense, Zeng was able to score on a couple of solid, high-motor plays, and he also made a corner three down the stretch.  Zeng will be an interesting player to watch this season, and if he can build on this game, he could play his way into the late first to early second round range for the 2022 draft.

Michael Foster Jr. had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to the Iowa Wolves.  He struggled on offense overall, but after having a very rough first half; he made solid plays in the second half to keep his team in the game. Foster did a fairly good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a put back in traffic, and he also managed to score on a strong roll to the rim another time.  He also showed that he can draw free throws, as he did so once on a roll, and another time when handling the ball in the open floor, but he struggled to make his free throws against the Iowa Wolves.

He struggled to consistently knock down jumpers or to score in one-on-one situations.  Foster was able to go to his left to knock down a mid-range jumper from the left elbow, but he struggled to consistently score on mid-range jumpers, and he also air-balled his lone three-point attempt.  He also really struggled to score on post plays or off the dribble, and he often had trouble scoring on turnaround jumpers or in traffic.

Foster was also quite turnover prone in this game.  Sometimes he would make good passes and reads on offense.  He was able to throw an accurate, long outlet pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break.  He also was able to make a drive and kick pass another time.  On the downside, he had trouble handling the ball under pressure.  He showed bad footwork in the post early on and traveled.  He also would tend to over-dribble, as he lost the ball out of bounds another time.  He also would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray.

Foster did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was especially active at crashing the glass to get defensive rebounds, and he is a strong, physical player that has good hands that enabled him to come away with many boards throughout this contest.  On one play though, he didn’t box out his man, which led his team to allow a put back score.

He also played adequate defense in this game.  Foster did a great job of blocking shots in the post, and he would sometimes swat balls to his teammates.  He also was able to get his hands on a pass to help his team get a steal.  He also would sometimes contest long-range shots to force misses.  On the downside, he would also tend to over-help in the paint and sag off of shooters, and he would allow them to score on open threes.  He also committed a foul when defending off the ball due to over-aggressiveness.

In summary, Michael Foster Jr. didn’t have a great game, but he played better in the second half.  He was more of an interior presence as the game wore on, but he struggled to make shots, and he also generally struggled to defend out on the perimeter.  He did consistently play hard, and he showed that he can make hustle plays.  Right now, he needs to expand his game and his skill set on offense, but his athleticism, motor, and upside could enable him to go in the late first to the second round range on draft day.

Dyson Daniels struggled in his team’s loss to the Iowa Wolves tonight.  He was turnover prone early, and he also struggled to make an impact on either end of the floor.  He was at his best as a facilitator, but he rarely looked to score, and he also struggled defensively. Daniels showed a decent ability to knock down outside shots when he would hoist them up.  Early on, he dribbled to his right to make a smooth, step-back three to show his shooting potential.  On another play though, he also air-balled a three, and those were the only two three-point attempts he hoisted up all night.

He also struggled to consistently create his own shot off the dribble, but he was more effective in going to his left.  He was able to go to his left to draw free throws on a drive in transition, and he also went to his left off of a screen to draw a non-shooting foul another time.  However, he also missed badly when going to his left when driving off of a screen another time, and it was rare when Daniels would try to score when going to his right hand.

Daniels was fairly average as a playmaker in this game.  He is a tall, agile ball handler that can make drive and kick passes to set up scores for his teammates, and passing off the dribble is one of his strong suits.  On the downside, he can play too wildly and carelessly, which also led him to be turnover prone.  He dribbled off himself and lost the handle early on, which led to an over and back violation.  He also had a ball poked away when driving to his left another time.  He also threw a hasty, inaccurate pass off the dribble that ended up sailing out of bounds.

Though Daniels didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to get a defensive board once in this game.  Defensively, he generally struggled on that side of the ball.  For the positives, he would look to stay in front of his man, and he would contest shots off the dribble to force misses.  On the downside, he would frequently be caught ball watching, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow open shots.  He also would struggle to defend more athletic opponents off the dribble, which would put his team in compromised situations.  He also got outmuscled on a drive by a taller opponent, which led him to give up the basket another time.

Overall, Dyson Daniels did not play very well at all in this game, and there may be a fair chance that he may actually be overrated as a draft prospect.  He’ll need to be more aggressive in hunting for his own shots on offense, but he also needs to be less mistake-prone on both ends of the floor.  His draft stock is still pretty high at the moment, and he is a tall, athletic ball handler that could end up getting selected in the second round of the 2022 draft.

Other Notes:

Leandro Bolmaro played very well for the Iowa Wolves today, and he scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds in his team’s 98-87 win over the G-League Ignite.
(Photo:
Bruce Kluckhohn/USA Today Sports, via Fansided’s Dunking with Wolves)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ rookie swingman, Leandro Bolmaro was recently assigned to their G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, so he was able to play for them in tonight’s game.  He had a strong showing overall.  He was especially impressive in the first half, as he thoroughly excelled as a shooter and facilitator, and he also played good defense early on. In the second half, he had droughts where he struggled to score, and it seemed to impact him a bit on both ends of the floor.  He was able to find his shooting stroke in the fourth quarter, and he played well overall, as he finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and he also had 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in his team’s win over the G-League Ignite.

Bolmaro shot the ball well, and he did a good job of making spot-up threes and dribble jumpers from inside the arc.  He showed that he can run off ball screens to make quick threes, and he also made a step-back long two.  He also showed some athleticism by scoring quickly on the break, and he also ran in to score on a tip slam off of an offensive rebound.  He was a bit streaky with his outside shot as he did not score in the third quarter, and he had some trouble in trying to get by opponents at times, but he was quickly able to regain his shooting stroke by making two threes in the fourth quarter.

He also passed and handled the ball well.  Bolmaro made nice passes, and he consistently made very good reads throughout the game.  He generally passed the ball well off the dribble, and he also showed that he can make pocket passes in tight spaces.  On the downside, he would sometimes commit turnovers due to carelessness, but he was generally effective with the ball in his hands, as he also was able to comfortably run the point in this game.

Bolmaro also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would sometimes push the ball up the court off of defensive rebounds, and he also was able to make an impressive, one-handed defensive rebound.  He also showed that he can get tough boards in traffic.  He also was competent defensively, as he would consistently look to contest shots to force misses.  He also was able to block a shot off of a drive, and get a steal another time.  On the downside, he can struggle to defend quicker opponents, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Leandro Bolmaro played very well, and he showed that he is a ready-made NBA player, as he especially excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator in this game.  He showed that he can be a rotation player for the Minnesota Timberwolves if they need him, he could be a solid rotation piece for them in the future.

Scoot Henderson collected a DNP-CD in this game, as he did not play, probably as a result of a coach’s decision.  It was surprising and disappointing that he did not play in this match, but maybe the coaches felt that he was not ready to play tonight.  Hopefully he will get into some games and get some meaningful playing time as the season progresses this year.

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