After 11 months, the NBA G League officially kicked off yesterday afternoon, featuring the first glimpse of the NBA G League Ignite team. As the team captured a 109-104 victory over Santa Cruz, the young prospects showed out in their first game on the professional level. Let’s take a look into three keys in the Ignite’s victory.
Kuminga laid everything out on the floor.
Coming out the gates, Jonathan Kuminga displayed his versatility on both sides of the floor. On offense, he was using his size to attack the basket while even becoming a playmaker at certain stretches of the game.
The Ignite team thrived off of Kuminga’s competitive spirit. Not only was he a force on offense, but on the defensive end, he managed to play physical and make key stops. For instance, rejecting Jordan Poole around the basket late in the game. Kuminga finished the contest with 19 points while shooting 9/18 from the field. This top-notch performance will only increase his value going forward.
Jarrett Jack proving he can still play at the highest level
For those who did not know that Jarrett Jack was on the Ignite roster, it looks like you are well aware now. Jack checked into the game and became the leading spark on offense quickly. He got into his sweet spots on the perimeter and maneuvered his way into numerous mid-range shots.
Jack could not miss through the course of the game. He shot 9/10 from the field and 3/3 from three-point land. Jack’s 23 point afternoon shows that he has the capability of taking pressure off of the young guys by providing spacing and leadership on the floor. He may be 37 years of age, but Jarrett Jack is showing that he can be a valuable role player in the NBA once again.
Daishen Nix, Brandon Ashley showing emergence as well
The Ignite have so many playmakers and it’s a wonderful thing to watch. One of them is sensational Daishen Nix. Like Jack, Nix was inserted into the game to provide a spark. Although he looked as if he could get in better shape, Nix was phenomenal at penetrating to the basket with his explosiveness. He finished the game with 12 points on 4/7 shooting.
As for Brandon Ashley, he did a phenomenal job protecting the paint and providing physicality. With Kai Sotto unavailable for the team, Ashley’s emergence as a premier big man is important for the Ignite going forward. When he is an enforcer under the basket, he shows to be a great compliment to Kuminga in the frontcourt. Ashley finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds in the afternoon’s matchup.
Honorable Mention: Jalen Green will be fine
I’m sure many were on the same boat as I was. In his first professional game, Jalen Green did not come out the gates like his partner in crime, Kuminga. He had trouble controlling the ball, which lead to a lot of turnovers.
The Warriors made an effort for Green to not become a factor on the offensive end. Players in Nico Mannion and Jordan Poole did a fantastic job of forcing Green to give up the basketball, making him a decoy at times on the floor.
Although it wasn’t the greatest debut for Green, there’s no need to panic. He’s a smart player who will understand how to approach the next game with a different mindset. Green understands that his value to the team is important to succeed through these next 14 games remaining. Expect him to go into their next matchup more focused and aggressive on offense.
In conclusion, the G League Ignite team is just what we expected, fun and entertaining. Taking the first game over the Santa Cruz Warriors will only allow them to carry momentum going forward.