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What we learned from the G League Ignite team

Krysten Peek
·7-min read

The G League Ignite team made it to the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Raptors 905 on Monday night. There were 17 former first-round picks playing in the G League bubble season with nine players coming from the last two drafts. Throughout 15 games, NBA executives and scouts made their way to Walt Disney World to get eyes on four 2021 draft prospects — Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix. Each player was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and hadn’t played a competitive game of basketball in nearly a year. That the Ignite team made the playoffs and got experience going against the No. 1 team in the G League and former NBA players were key for these young players.

Who helped their draft stock and what did we learn from G League bubble season? We break down the four prospects' performances and where they potentially stand on draft boards.

Jalen Green #4 of the G League Ignite brings the ball up the floor during a G-League game against the Westchester Knicks at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on February 18, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Jalen Green could be the top pick in the 2021 NBA draft. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Jalen Green

6-6, 178 lbs

17.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.8 apg

Green is a projected top-five draft prospect and waited until the last game to have his best showing of the season. Green finished with a season-high 30 points, seven assists and three steals against the No. 1 team in the G League. The combo guard out of Fresno, California, had at least 20 points in nine games this season and was the only player on the Ignite team to score 30 points in a game. NBA scouts were impressed with his playmaking ability and how he found different ways to score against stronger, bigger guards, and more than one NBA executive told Yahoo Sports that he could end up being the No. 1 pick.

“I’m just trying to show the NBA scouts that I have an all-around game,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “I know a lot of people sleep on me passing the ball, and I just want to let them know that I have a feel for the game and that I want to win.”

Green was the leading scorer on the Ignite team and started all 15 games. There were times when he was a little turnover-prone but that will improve with experience and maturity in the league. He excelled in the open court, scoring at will in transition, but had difficulty in the halfcourt set making the right play. He will need to add some weight to his slight frame but all signs point to Green having a long NBA career and potentially multiple years as an All-Star.

Jonathan Kuminga

6-6, 210 lbs

15.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg

Kuminga elected to sit out the final three games of the season due to a sore knee. He led the team in rebounds, grabbing 93 boards in 13 games. Like Green, Kuminga is a projected top-five draft pick and is the most physically gifted player in this draft class. He averaged 22 points and seven rebounds in the first three games of the season and showed scouts how good he can be once he gets downhill.

"He's a nightmare. If they put a smaller guy on him, he takes advantage of that. If you put a bigger guy on him, he drives around him," head coach Brian Shaw said of Kuminga.

Kuminga recorded four double-doubles in the short season and had a season-high 24 points in a win over the Oklahoma City Blue. Green had high praise for Kuminga, telling Yahoo Sports, “I got a chance to get to know JK and see his point of view on the court and how he thinks and stuff like that. I think it’s helped me grow as a player because he’s so skilled and has so much pace, it’s crazy.”

NORWALK, CA - JUNE 02: Isaiah Todd from Trinity High School looks on during the Pangos All-American Camp on June 2, 2019 at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Isaiah Todd was the biggest surprise of the G League Ignite. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Isaiah Todd

6-10, 210 lbs

12.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Todd was the biggest surprise of the Ignite team. He came in as a projected late second-round pick and now teams are seriously considering him as a late first-round, early second-round pick.

“We were really able to see Todd excel in the open court and with the NBA-style spacing, he excelled in iso situations extending out to the 3-point line,” an NBA executive told Yahoo Sports. “You can see how well his game is going to translate to the NBA.”

Todd’s most impressive game was a season-high 25-point, 11-rebound performance with three assists and two blocks in a win to clinch a playoff spot. Earlier in the season, he had 23 points, including two 3-pointers, and went 9-of-20 from the field in a win over the Charlotte Swarm. Todd’s improvement in the pick-and-pop has made him an intriguing prospect at the next level.

“We’re like sponges right now and us learning the NBA game this early is so beneficial for us,” Todd told Yahoo Sports.

The 6-foot-10 center needed to have an exceptional G League bubble season to help his draft stock. No other player had more pressure than Todd to perform well in the six-week season and he exceeded expectations.

Daishen Nix

6-5, 224 lbs

8.8 ppg, 5.3 apg

Nix surprised a lot of scouts with his high basketball IQ and passing in both the open court and half-court offense. Nix averaged 7.1 assists per 36 minutes in the G League season. “He’s one of the best passers I’ve seen. The way he sees the court, you can’t teach that,” one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports.

There are questions surrounding Nix’s weight and frame and if he can withstand an 82-game season in the NBA. He was inconsistent as a scorer in the 15 G League games shooting just 38% from the field and only 17.6% from 3-point range. The point guard out of Las Vegas had a couple of impressive games scoring 12 points off the bench in his debut and 25 points in the third game in the season. Nix has the best natural feel for the game on the Ignite team and is capable of bullying smaller guards in the lane with his size.

Best assignment players in the G League season

Jalen Smith was the most surprising pick of the 2020 NBA draft and he didn’t do enough to help his case in the G League. In just six games he averaged 8.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time each game.

Kevin Porter Jr. was incredible playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, averaging 24.1 points and 7.2 assists per game. He was the best player on the court every time he played and will undoubtedly start to see solid minutes on the Houston Rockets after dominating the G League. Porter Jr. was the 30th pick in the 2019 draft and was recently traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers after a series of off-the-court issues.

Former Duke point guard Tre Jones had one of the best dunks in transition and had 30 points and 11 assists in an Austin Spurs win over the Erie BayHawks early in the season. In just seven games, Jones averaged nearly a double-double with 18.1 points and 9.7 assists per game.

Malachi Flynn #8 of the Toronto Raptors handles the ball during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic at Amalie Arena on January 31, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Malachi Flynn could be a steal for the Toronto Raptors. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Malachi Flynn was the 29th pick in the 2020 draft and could end up being a huge sleeper pick for the Toronto Raptors. Flynn only played six games in the G League before being called back up to the NBA. He averaged 20.8 points, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 41% from 3-point range.

Paul Reed was the No. 58 pick in the 2020 draft and exceeded expectations during the G League bubble season. The 6-foot-9 power forward is one of the most efficient players on the court, averaging 22.3 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Delaware Blue Coats. Reed has excellent touch around the rim and has shown a ton of creativity in his shot selection. He excels off the dribble attacking the basket and can end up being a huge asset to a deep Philadelphia 76ers team.

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