Thoughts on The G-League Ignite’s First Loss of the Season

February 17th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The Erie Bayhawks really took the fight to the G-League Ignite, and they jumped on them early in the first quarter and never looked back.  This turned out to not only be the G-League Ignite’s first loss of the season, but they got thumped pretty badly.  This was also their first truly bad performance of the season, as they had trouble making shots or getting stops.  Though the G-League Ignite were able to make some breathtaking plays on offense at times, they never really got into the flow of this game, and they were dealt a double-digit loss by Erie.  Here are my thoughts on how Green, Kuminga, and the other prospects fared on this day.  Also, for those that are interested in the box score, the link is here.

The G-League Ignite’s Jalen Green didn’t quite shoot the ball well in his team’s loss to Erie, but he made some really athletic plays, as he scored 13 points on 6 of 15 shooting in his team’s loss today.
(Photo:
Juan Ocampo, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP)

Jalen Green had his ups and downs in his team’s blowout loss to Erie, but he was able to make some highlight reel-worthy plays on both sides of the ball.  Though he struggled with his jump shot and on-ball defense, he was able to make some solid plays as a scorer in transition as well as a help defender in this game.

Green did a great job of scoring in transition.  He is a speedy, fleet-footed guard that can quickly get to the rim, as he has a blindingly fast first step, and he has a series of moves that would allow him to score on quick layups at the rim.  He also ran the floor to score on a two-handed dunk.

He also showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble.  Green managed to quickly drive to his left to score in the half court, and he also drew free throws on an aggressive leaner another time.  However, there was one play where he tried to take a quick layup on a half-court drive, but he ended up missing the shot in traffic.

On the downside, Green really struggled to knock down jumpers in this game.  For the positives, he was able to utilize a behind-the-back crossover to score on a pull-up jumper from the mid-range, and he also made an open corner three late in this match.  However, he tended to miss on pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, as he would take a lot of quick, contested shots from that range, and he also missed too often when he would hoist up threes from beyond the arc.

He also displayed good playmaking skills in this game.  Green tended to throw crisp, accurate interior passes, and he especially excelled at throwing passes to teammates in transition.  He even threw a nifty, behind-the-back pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break.  He did a good job of finding teammates on the move, and he is a good ball handler that sees the floor well.  However, he did commit a couple of turnovers, though.  On one drive to the hoop, and he over-dribbled into traffic and had the ball ripped away from just as he was about to shoot it.  He also stared down his passing target, as he telegraphed his pass that ended up getting intercepted another time. He also was able to get his fair share of rebounds.  In this game, Green was able to leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he was especially active at crashing the offensive glass.

Defensively though, he looked to be fairly average.  Green would sometimes make some impressive plays, and he is a rangy defender that can get blocks and steals.  However, he also would tend to take bad gambles, which would hurt his team when it wouldn’t pay off.  Green did a very good job of blocking shots due to possessing good athleticism, length, and timing.  He was able to swat a shot when defending in the post to himself, and he also blocked a three-point shot to a teammate.  He also ran in to intercept a pass quickly to get a steal, and he also poked a ball to nearly get another.  He also managed to contest another three to force a miss on a separate play.  However, he would tend to take bad gambles, as he committed a clear-path foul early on, and he also would whiff on offensive rebound and steal attempts, which would put his team in scramble situations.  Sometimes he wouldn’t give enough effort to get back on defense, as he would sometimes not pick up his man quickly or actively contest shots, and his motor seemed to be up and down in this game.

In general, Jalen Green didn’t have his best game, and he showed some questionable shot selection in his team’s loss to Erie, but he also is a tremendously athletic specimen that was able to make several high-flying, highlight reel-worthy plays on both ends of the floor.  He will need to take smarter shots and be a more focused on-ball defender in games, but his strong athletic gifts combined with his ability to score and defend still makes him a likely lock to be a top 5 pick in the 2021 draft right now.

Jonathan Kuminga may have scored the most points on his team, as he had 21 points, and he also had 10 rebounds to go along with it, but it didn’t seem as if he played well, as he also needed 23 shots to get to that point total, was a -32 in the plus-minus column, and there were times where he would struggle on offense that would immediately lead to bad defense on the other side of the ball.  For an elite two-way wing player prospect, his effort on the defensive end seemed to be completely lacking at times, as he seemed to be disinterested on that end on occasion.

Kuminga excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He ran the floor well, and he was able to score on a thunderous dunk on the break.  He also showed a penchant for scoring on backdoor cuts, and he was able to catch a lob to score on a reverse, 180 alley-oop dunk late in this match.  Plus, he also would score on put backs after grabbing offensive rebounds.

He also flashed the ability to score in the post.  Kuminga was able to score on a quick, up and under move early on.  He also possesses very good footwork when operating down low.  However, he had his shot blocked when attempting a one-legged, fadeaway jumper.  He also used a quick shoulder fake, but ended up missing on a tough up and under move when another defender arrived to contest the shot from the blind side.

He also was able to use a spin move to score on a powerful drive to the hoop, as he showed off solid footwork and body control to score that time.  However, Kuminga had a shot blocked in traffic another time.

Kuminga struggled to consistently knock down jumpers, especially from beyond the arc.  On the plus side, he did show a fairly good ability to knock down mid-range shots.  He drove in once to score on a mid-range floater, and he also made a face-up jumper from the baseline another time.  Kuminga also was able to make a spot-up three off of a pick and pop play.  However, he tended to miss on three-point shots from beyond the arc, and he often had trouble making them whether if he would take them off the catch or dribble.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Kuminga is an unselfish player that can throw good passes to find teammates on the break.  He has fairly good court vision, and he can throw accurate long passes to get his teammates the basketball.  However, he was fairly turnover prone on offense.  He would sometimes throw hasty passes that would get intercepted.  He also tried to rush his move on a drive, which led him to getting the ball ripped away from him.  On another play, he dribbled around for too long, and he didn’t get his shot off in time, which led his team to commit a shot clock violation.

Also, Kuminga did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the boards to help his team get rebounds on both ends of the floor, and he would tend to bring the ball up and push it up the court after getting defensive rebounds.  However, he did commit a loose ball foul when trying to get an offensive rebound once, as he was called for clearing out with his arm while also falling down at the same time.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Kuminga was able to block a shot to a teammate when defending in the post.  He also would deflect passes to nearly get steals.  He also was able to contest mid-range jumpers to force some misses.  However, sometimes he would not always make a great effort to contest jump shots, and he would sometimes be late on his rotations in trying to do so.  There were times where he didn’t seem to be dialed in, which would also sometimes lead opponents to get by him that shouldn’t.

Overall, Jonathan Kuminga didn’t have his best game, but he still was able to score 21 points and grab 10 rebounds in his team’s losing effort to the Erie Bayhawks.  He will need to improve his outside shot and be a more focused on-ball defender, but his ability to make plays on both ends of the floor may enable him to be a good candidate to be selected in the lottery of the upcoming draft.

G-League Ignite’s 6-5 point guard, Daishen Nix played fairly well in his team’s loss against the Erie Bayhawks.  He struggled with his outside shot, but he seemed to play well in most of the other facets of the game despite that. Nix did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a strong layup off of an aggressive drive in transition.  He also ran off of a ball screen to score on a quick, backdoor cut another time.

He also showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble.  Nix would drive hard to the hoop to score around the basket, and he was able to get an extra free throw off of one drive.  He is a strong, physical player that will absorb the contact, and he has the hang time to be able to score on tough shots around the basket.  Plus, he also used a quick shoulder fake to score on a post-up another time.

However, he had trouble knocking down jumpers consistently when he would hoist them up from further out.  Nix missed on all of the three-point shots he took, and he also missed on a mid-range jumper another time.  He did draw three free throws on a pull-up three he took late in this game, and he managed to make all three of them when he was at the foul line.

Also, Nix showed off solid playmaking skills in this game.  He is an unselfish player that throws good passes off the dribble, and he also threw crisp, accurate interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He can find teammates on the move, as he can get the ball to cutters, and he also threw an accurate lob to set up an alley-oop dunk for a teammate.  However, he did commit a couple of turnovers.  He was called for a charging foul on a drive once, and he also threw a weak entry pass that got intercepted.

Plus, Nix did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to get defensive rebounds, and he would usually bring the ball up or push it quickly up the court afterwards.

He also played adequate defense.  Nix is a long, active defender that would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also poked a ball away to nearly force another turnover.  However, sometimes he would take bad gambles for steals, which caused him to commit a reach-in foul once, and he also trailed his man on a cut that put his team in a scramble situation another time.  On another play, he was loafing on defense as he didn’t get back, and his team allowed a dunk in transition.

Overall, Daishen Nix played a fairly good game in his team’s loss to the Erie Bayhawks.  Though he struggled with his outside shot, he still excelled at making plays on both sides of the floor regardless.  He showed that he can excel as a scorer in the post as well as off the dribble, and he also passed the ball well in this game.  He looks to be a solid prospect in the 2021 draft, and he would likely be a good pick for an NBA team in the late first round range on draft day.

G-League Ignite’s 6-10 forward, Isaiah Todd had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Erie.  He was efficient as a scorer, particularly in the post, and he also was an active defender in this game. Todd did a very good job of scoring in the post.  He was able to score on a turnaround jump hook over a smaller defender due to possessing good size, footwork, and shooting touch on the block.  He also used an overhead ball fake and a drop step move to score on a strong move inside while also drawing an extra free throw.  Plus, he also used a spin move to draw free throws on a quick turnaround, fadeaway jumper another time.

He also flashed the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers.  Todd ran off of a ball screen quickly to make a long two-point shot from the baseline.  However, he missed on two other jumpers from inside the arc.  He also attempted a spot-up three off the catch, but ended up missing that time from long distance.

However, he was fairly turnover prone on offense.  On the plus side, Todd handles the ball well, and he also will set screens for his teammates.  However, he blindly threw a quick pass that sailed out of bounds, as he thought a teammate would be there, but he passed to an area and not a person, and he threw a pass that time as if he were on auto-pilot.  On another play, he telegraphed a weak pass that ended up getting intercepted by a defender.

Though he didn’t get many rebounds in this game, Todd was able to leap up to get several defensive boards to chip in on the glass.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  On one good play, Todd hustled back to block a shot off of a drive in transition due to possessing good length, athleticism, motor, and timing that time.  He also was able to contest jumpers, as well as a shot in the post to force some misses.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend quick ball handlers out on the perimeter.  Other times, he wouldn’t quite make a full effort to get back or to contest shots on occasion. 

Overall, Isaiah Todd played fairly well in limited minutes off the bench in his team’s loss to Erie.  He was at his most effective as a low post scorer in this game, and he especially seems to excel at making shots around the mid-range area.   He will need to trust his outside shot more, as he shown an ability to make threes in bunches in previous games, and he will need to be a more focused rebounder and defender when he is on the floor.   Still, he is a talented prospect that could be a good value pick in the second round range, as he may have the skills to thrive as a role player in the NBA.

G-League Ignite’s 6-9 center from India, Princepal Singh was able to get his first batch of minutes in the NBA G-League’s regular season in his team’s loss to Erie.  He didn’t seem to play too well, but it’s good to see that he was able to get some run in this game, even though he only played in the fourth quarter when his team was long out of it.

Singh flashed the ability to score in the post.  He was able to draw a non-shooting foul when trying to post up, as he had drawn the foul prior to getting the basketball.  On another play, he used a jab step when posting up, and he also used a pump fake, but he ended up missing on a turnaround jumper. He was able to draw a technical free throw, but he missed his free throw late in this game.  His shooting form looked good, but he missed the shot to his left when he was at the foul line.

Also, Singh displayed satisfactory playmaking skills in this game.  He was able to throw a sharp interior pass to find a cutter on the move due to possessing fairly solid court vision.  He also set an off-ball screen to help set up a score for a shooter.  He also was able to move quickly off the ball to get it in the post once.  Though he technically did not pick up an assist nor looked to handle the ball very much, Singh helped his team by moving the basketball and by setting screens, and he also did not turn the ball over once on offense.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  In this game, Singh was able to get a pair of defensive rebounds to help his team on the boards.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  On one good play, he hustled back, as he was able to force his opponent to miss a dunk in transition late in this game due to possessing a solid motor.  However, he doesn’t possess ideal lateral mobility or quickness, and he would struggle to defend opponents in space.  On one play, he spaced out, and he ended up allowing his man to score on a dunk off of a backdoor cut.  On another play, he over-helped his teammate on a drive, but was unable to rotate back, which led him to allow a score on another cut.

Overall, it’s good to see that Princepal Singh was able to get into his first game of the regular season.  However, unlike the other prospects, he still has a long way to go, as he was not really considered to be much of a prospect before the start of this season, as he was virtually nowhere on draft boards, and he didn’t seem to do much to sway NBA scouts or teams otherwise today, as he was held scoreless in roughly 7 minutes of game action.  Currently, Singh may be a long shot to be drafted this year, but if he can continue to improve, over time, he could end up being a solid role player in the G-League, and he could eventually put himself in position to compete for a roster spot in the NBA a few years from now.

Final thoughts about this game:

In conclusion, this was the G-League Ignite’s first real tough loss of the season, and it will be interesting to see how they will bounce back from this.  Early on, the G-League Ignite’s defensive rotations seemed off, they didn’t guard shooters very well, and they tended to gamble too much, as they allowed the Erie Bayhawks to score on one three-point basket after another.

The G-League Ignite made a slew of bad, hasty passes that resulted in turnovers, and they took a lot of quick shots that missed often early on.  They really seemed to struggle, especially as they made the baffling decision to start Bobby Brown over Jarrett Jack at the point.  It really seemed that the G-League Ignite didn’t have much chemistry early on, and Bobby Brown’s bad passing and tendency to miss shots really seemed to take his team out of it in the first quarter. The G-League Ignite also seemed to struggle to guard pick and rolls, and they had trouble getting stops in the paint in addition.

For the Erie Bayhawks, they made a lot of threes, they moved the ball very well, and they made sure to peel back on offense to prevent the G-League Ignite to get many chances to score on fast breaks.  Essentially, Erie decided to punt the offensive glass to stop the G-League Ignite from getting out in transition. This is a common tactic employed by coaches from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, as written by ESPN’s Zach Lowe. It seemed that Erie was well aware that Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga especially thrive at scoring in transition, and that the young prospects have tended to be very streaky as outside shooters, and the G-League Ignite really struggled to make threes in this game today.

Also for Erie, six different players managed to score in double figures, with New Orleans Pelicans’ assignee and rookie swingman, Naji Marshall having led the way with 21 points.  Jarrod Uthoff and Jalen Adams scored 17 points each, Caleb Homesley and Washington Wizards’ assignee and rookie point guard, Cassius Winston had 16 points each, and former Golden State Warriors’ big man, Jordan Bell scored 13 points today.

Much was made in the telecast about the Erie Bayhawks’ supposed lack of size, even though Erie seemed to have a taller starting frontcourt, but the Bayhawks played well in all fronts and aspects of the game, and they even outrebounded the G-League Ignite, 44-42.  Erie played terrific basketball today, they made smarter plays, and they seemed to want it more, and they were able to get the win over the G-League Ignite.  The Bayhawks relied on their veteran expertise, they were hungry for a win, and they were able to get a lopsided victory over their opponent.

For the G-League Ignite, they will need to regroup, and they will need to play smarter in their next game.  How they deal with the adversity of this loss will be very important for their team.  They will need to shoot better, take better care of the basketball, take less bad gambles and give more effort defensively, and there will need to be more ball and player movement on offense. 

I was fairly certain that the G-League Ignite were always bound to lose a game, and the question will be, how well will they respond tomorrow against Westchester. Even so, the G-League Ignite is still 4-1 despite having just experienced an unsightly 40-point loss, and if they respond well tomorrow, they could still be very much on track to make the playoffs in their league this year.

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