The Boston Celtics need help | The Atlantic Files Ep176

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Boston Celtics

March Madness is in full swing, the second half of the NBA season is here, and the weather is getting warmer for those in the northern hemisphere! Always the best time of the year and we’re here for all of the basketball fun.

This week we need to catch up with some of the big news and the standings in the Atlantic. It has been a while and a lot of moving, so we’re glad we get to catch up with everyone again!

Something very mediocre is brewing in Boston right now. The Boston Celtics are nowhere near as big of a championship threat as they were originally predicted to be. Yes, the season has been crazy with covid and all sorts of schedule changes, but the roster makeup is starting to show holes.

So this begs the question, what does Boston need to really be a true contender this year? Well, we bring THREE main bullet points that the Celtics are going to have to address if they truly want to win a ring during this crazy season.

Then, it’s time to talk about the Toronto Raptors. This season seems more of a lost cause when it comes to winning a championship. They definitely can make the playoffs, but they also could get some valuable assets for some of the pieces they have that won’t necessarily be there long term.

Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, and Chris Boucher are all names that could be heard on the trade block. Maybe they need to be shopped a little more aggressively and maybe they should be thinking for next season instead of trying to salvage a first or second-round exit this season.

All of this and more on the latest episode below!

Timestamps:

4:50 – Three things the Boston Celtics need to be championship contenders

21:10 – What pieces should the Toronto Raptors trade away?

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March Madness: What You Need To Know For NCAA Tournament

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March Madness
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 13: Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard on the sidelines during the men's Big Ten tournament college basketball game between the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes on March 13, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, March Madness!

The NCAA tournament begins today and 64 Men’s Basketball teams will be tasked with providing that one shining moment for their college.

Most of the NCAA action will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana and it will be the first time since 2019 that the college basketball tournament will happen after the NCAA canceled the tournament after the effects of the novel coronavirus and the pandemic that followed.

The Division I Men’s Basketball Championship will tip-off with their first four games today with 55 of the 67 games taking place in Indianapolis.

Attendance at each game will depend on the size of the venue. That 25 percent capacity is for all rounds and the Final Four, and it includes all participants, essential staff and family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches, and a reduced number of fans.

Gonzaga and Baylor are early favorites in the tournament.

As Sports Illustrated notes, many have been critical of Gonzaga for their relatively easy schedule and that the Bulldogs have made the most of their opportunities.

For those keeping score at home: Gonzaga currently sits at an overall record of 26-0 and is the only undefeated team within the tournament.

But, you can’t sleep on the Michigan Wolverines who won the regular-season Big Ten title. Guided by head coach Juwan Howard, the retired NBA Champion has the star power of Franz Wagner and Hunter Dickinson and the supporting cast of Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown.

Michigan enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1993. If you’re tardy to the party, Juwan Howard was a member of that Fab 5 team alongside Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Ray Jackson, and Jimmy King.

The cool long shorts, the long black socks, and the Nike Huarache sneakers completed the on-court ensemble.

“We looked different, we sounded different, we were a lot more brash,” Jalen Rose told me on the Scoop B Radio podcast.

“We were giving you guys something that you hadn’t seen before.”

In addition to Michigan and Gonzaga fodder, another coming attraction to the NCAA tournament is the announcers calling the game like Bill Raftery.

Some of the top Bill Raf-isms include: send it in Jerome, lingerie on the deck, the kiss, nylon, nickel-dimer, teardrop, onions and attack the tin.

Raftery talked about them a few years ago. Check out our dialogue below.

People better watch out for Nile Miller

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Nile Miller


Taking over games might not be the mentality of 6’1 forward Nile Miller yet but she clearly has the ability to do so.

Nile headlines the frontcourt for Paul VI High School in Haddonfield, New Jersey. The South Jersey program was ranked in the top 10 overall by NJ.com before the season and finished a limited 2021 pandemic season with a 14-2 record at the top of their conference.

In that span, Nile scored over 100 points and grabbed over 100 rebounds, which she’s done every season of her high school career. She also finished with 42 steals and 16 blocks in those 16 games.

Her length and size make her presence fascinating to the basketball eye. Add her skill and motor and you’ll see dominant spurts from Nile that could include rebounds, blocks, threes, pushing the ball in transition, or anything else she can do to impact the game.

One of Nile’s best games I saw came in a win against Stuart Day in February. Matched up against Georgetown bound forward Ariel Jenkins, Nile finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, and four steals. She led the game-changing swing for Paul VI in the third quarter scoring 10 of their 14 points during a 14-2 run.

You can sense that Nile is still developing and even understanding her own ability.

That doesn’t keep her from pulling off high-level offensive moves like this one:

Nile causes disruption at the top of Paul VI’s press when she harasses the inbounder with her length, tracing the ball with wide hands and causing deflections that lead to turnovers.

Paul VI head coach Lisa Steele believes that Nile is still realizing her potential, but what she’s doing now is enough to “win at the high level and garner interest from college coaches.”

She moves really well without the ball. I don’t even know if she knows she’s doing it, but she tracks rebounds really well, Steele said by phone.

It’s just a natural gift for her.. she kind of knows where to move to get the ball.

Coach Steele says Nile “has fun with it; just performs out there.” Intangible praise from a coach who played at the Division-1 level herself at George Washington.

And she does things that don’t always show up on the stat sheet too. She’ll score a flurry of points but she’ll have games where she might have four to eight points and still just majorly impact games.

Watching the film it’s clear at the heart of Nile’s game is a gift and feel for passing the basketball. She makes the pitch-ahead pass in transition, finds cutters in the half-court, and threads legitimate needles on occasion, and her versatility turns her into a mismatch weapon for Paul VI.

Coach Steele tells me Nile had interest from the ACC to MEAC and Ivy League. After a breakout sophomore season last year, Steele knows that Nile would have turned heads with a summer of AAU were it not for the pandemic shutdown last year.

Losing out on that exposure and development wasn’t exactly ideal timing for the young “baby deer” as Coach Steele described her.

She’s still on the radar as coaches are navigating new recruiting environments.

Whether you’re a coach or a player or a casual fan, just make sure you watch out for Nile Miller.

Paulina Paris joins Protect Our Queens to talk about her game and inspiration

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Paulina Paris
Photo Cred: Tim Lang

When we last caught up with Paulina Paris it was right in the heart of the pandemic.

She had just come off a special sophomore season, averaging 25 points and seven rebounds per game and winning the Rockland Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second straight year.

Paulina hadn’t yet announced her decision to transfer from Albertus Magnus in New York to Saddle River Day High School in New Jersey. Once she did she arguably became the top guard in New Jersey.

In her debut game for Saddle River, she had 29 points and six assists in a 20-point win against Life Center.

The next game she dropped 33 points, had eight rebounds and six assists in an 89-29 win against Montclair Immaculate.

This is a high-level scorer who sees things ahead of time as a playmaker. She described her ability to do that in our conversation.

I know how to like, tell by the plays before what I should do the next play. And I think that that’s probably the best part of my game.

Paulina recently narrowed her potential college choices down to eight schools, including the likes of Rutgers, UConn, UCLA, and North Carolina State.

We talked with Paulina about her feelings on New York vs. New Jersey, and also her basketball influences which include her dad and Kobe Bryant, her all-time favorite player.

Paulina also took us through her pre-game rituals which can sometimes include some Leona Lewis, and writing on her shoes.

The tri-state area is well aware of Paulina and the whole country will become familiar with the name soon enough.

Xavier Silas’ coaching journey | The Atlantic Files Ep175

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Xavier Silas

Anyone who’s been watching basketball for the last decade has heard the name Xavier Silas. Whether it’s college basketball, NBA, professionally overseas, the Big 3, or even The Basketball Tournament, Xavier Silas’ name has come up. If you haven’t heard the name, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Silas had a long playing career that took him to many places all over the world. Even played in the G League where he got the chance to play for Team USA too.

Now that he’s only making playing appearances in The Basketball Tournament over the summer, he’s shifted his attention to coaching and running AAU or high school programs.

An AAU program is where it all started. After developing the program based out of Colorado, he then went through a coaching program with the NBA and landed a job as an assistant coach for the Delaware Blue Coats of the G League.

Last season, the Blue Coats had one of the best defenses in the league while still showcasing a high-powered offense. Silas had a big hand in this as he was helping with both sides of the ball at different parts of the season. Fast forward to this season that just started in the Disney bubble, and the Blue Coats are playing at one of the fastest paces in the G League while also placing in the top five in assist percentage, assists, points scored, and turnovers on both sides of the ball.

They’re now the only undefeated team left after the G League Ignite team fell on Wednesday night.

Xavier Silas credits a lot of people for the inspiration to coach and the guidance to get him where he is. Everyone from people he’s played with, against, for, and coached with.

Now, he continues to make his own stepping stones towards a head coaching gig. The G League coaching job helps with the X’s and O’s, but the creation of the Colorado Prep school gives him all the surrounding experience that a college coach would experience.

Hear about all of this and more in the latest episode below!

Timestamps:

0:00 – Intro and Atlantic Division standings update

3:25 – Interview with Xavier Silas

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Jalen Green has shown improvements that point towards a bright NBA future

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Jalen Green
Photo Credit: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Jalen Green’s first game, as I noted in my notes from that debut, was a bit disappointing. It wasn’t a horrendous game by any means, but not one that I’m sure Jalen himself was too proud of. Despite G League Ignite’s 40 point (yes, 40 point) loss today to the Erie Bayhawks, Jalen Green has shown some drastic improvements.

Watching Jalen Green in the G League has been extremely entertaining. Not only is it because of his eye popping athleticism, but also because of the new flashes that he shows in each outing.

So, what exactly has he showed recently that has me more excited about his NBA future? Let’s break it down…

Using His Athleticism

One thing I had noticed in his debut was that Jalen Green wasn’t using his athleticism too much. Whether it was defensively, on drives, or in the P&R, he wasn’t utilizing his greatest asset.

These past few games, he has certainly made that change.

He’s grown more confident since that first game. Jalen is attacking off the dribble and hasn’t relied on burst as much. He’s using that athleticism to contort his body in the air and finish around contact.

And it wasn’t just the first game that he’s made improvements since. Here is a clip in the 2nd game that shows his insane athleticism, but not the correct utilization of it.

Now, let’s fast forward to tonight where he attacks down-hill, but then uses a hop-step to get past the help defense and finishes with the reverse. So, by no longer aiming to do the exceptional he…does the incredible.

Having controlled finishes and showing patience in the paint are key facets for slashers. Green was rushing everything a bit too much in that first appearance, but has started to show flashes of having these facets in his game.

We’ve seen some pretty electric finishes from Jalen Green off of some nice alley-oop deliveries, but it’s these next level gathers and moves he can go to on straight line drives these last few games that should get NBA teams excited.

Simplifying the game becomes a big thing for young players with loads and loads of athleticism. The fact that Jalen Green has been able to adjust his game in such a short stint in the G League points toward a very successful jump to the NBA.

Passing

I stated some worries regarding Jalen Green’s passing acumen following that initial debut. After all, it had been a while since I got to see Jalen Green in action. These past few games, we’ve seen a different side to his passing.

Initially, I saw Green make a few poor decisions with the ball and was forcing the issue a little too much. Out of the P&R, he wasn’t laying the ball off to the big when he was rolling to the basket and open, but I have seen little of that in these past few games.

Green had turned plenty of heads in High School due to the aforementioned athleticism and top tier scoring ability. Now, as he makes improvements in his passing game, the overall offensive repertoire is going to be what is looked at.

As soon as a turnover is forced on one end, Jalen Green is sprinting down to the other end of the court. His ability to get ahead of the defense in transition is going to get him some easy buckets at the next level.

In this game today, he was actively forcing turnovers whether it was from steals or getting a block and running in transition. This whole sequence here, including the behind the back delivery to Jonathan Kuminga, was a thing of beauty:

One thing to notice from this clip is his great on ball defense. He moves his hips with the ball handler and reaches to contest the shot at the peak of the release. That’s another area of improvement we’ve been able to see in his game.

Attacking Off The Catch

There was some hesitancy in Jalen’s game coming into the G League bubble. Whether it was nervousness, the long layoff since his last real game appearance, or something else, Jalen Green just looks so much more confident out there now.

Attacking off the catch is one thing I’ve seen more of from Green. He’s seeing the game better and taking advantage of his first step. Early on, he was trying to size-up his defender too much and finding that his lack of strength was hurting him.

These past few games you can see the space he can create from attacking right away and getting into the lane.

Jalen Green still has a lot to work on in his game. He isn’t too active off-ball (although I have seen a few nice rotations to tag the roll man), his shot hasn’t been falling regularly from deep, and he still lacks the strength to truly be able to be a defensive plus.

But, these improvements that we have already seen in his game in this short amount of time certainly bodes well for his future in the NBA.

 

You can follow Aram Cannuscio on Twitter here to see clips and tons of content relating to the G League/College Basketball/NBA Draft and more. 

Kevin Porter Jr. proving that he is ready to join the Houston Rockets

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Kevin Porter Jr.
Photo Credit: Cavaliersnation.com

Last week, I wrote about Louis King and how I believed he deserved a real NBA shot. I named him as an early member of the “Way Too Good for the G League Team”. If there was a team even better than that, the player I’m talking about today would be on it. That player is Kevin Porter Jr.

Now, before I get into talking about his game, I want to premise everything by saying that whatever situation Kevin Porter Jr. feels he is most comfortable in right now, is where he should be. He had not played for the Cavaliers due to personal reasons and eventually was traded for next to nothing to the Houston Rockets. Simply put, the Houston Rockets got an absolute steal in KPJ and he’s showing why in this G League bubble.

There’s a lot that Kevin Porter Jr. does so well on the court that should seamlessly translate to the NBA.

Crafty Creator

This is KPJ’s greatest ability and it is at an elite level. He’d be one of the craftiest players with the ball immediately in the entire NBA.

Kevin Porter Jr.’s handle is extremely tight and his quick crosses make it infinitely more difficult for defenders to pick the ball from him.

The 2nd shot he made in this clip where he used the double behind the back dribble to gain the separation he needed from Iggy Brazdeikis was something that you would only see from a few players. One of them being Jamal Crawford, someone he has a great relationship with being from the Seattle area. You can even see Iggy trying to reach for the ball, but KPJ’s handles are just simply too quick as I noted.

If you are going to try to play on his hip to disallow him from sizing you up, well then he’s just going to power past you and then use his floater coupled with that A+ touch to finish around or through you.

As I had noted in my tweet, the deceleration that Kevin Porter Jr. shows in this clip is next level stuff. Given his bigger size for an initiator, it is extremely encouraging to see him utilizing the speed to turn the corner and then slowing down as he balances himself out to then drop the floater over the help defender.

The floater is something he’ll go to often once he gets into the lane. The soft touch that I noted on is something that is seen in every single game. KPJ has had no problem using his right hand dating back to his short time at USC.

Hesitation moves are KPJ’s bread and butter. The wiggle he has with his handle can often freeze the defense and really provided issues for Iggy Brazdeikis all day.

Along with the hesitation moves that Kevin will showcase, the one move we see from Kevin Porter Jr. is his step-back that will surely remind Houston Rockets fans of someone else who just had left the team.

This is seriously next level separation ability.

The crafty creator title I’ve given KPJ has to do with his ability to just pull things out of a hat at times. He showed it in High School, in College, in the NBA with the Cavs, and now he’s showing it in the G League bubble with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

https://twitter.com/Ballislife/status/1360268450707501060

Defense

Defensively, KPJ has shown some flashes of brilliance. At times, he can get hit off by a good move, but more often than not you will see him playing good defense. He slides his feet, reads passing lanes well, and forces a few turnovers each game.

As he spends a few more games in the G League, I’d like to see him locking in a bit more off-ball defensively, but he is proving to be a capable on ball defender.

There isn’t too much to say that wouldn’t be covered in the crafty creator section. His separation ability is an elite talent that should earn him minutes in the NBA right now. As I’ve said, there are off the court issues that I hope KPJ is getting to address, but when he is personally ready to be with the Rockets, given his talent, there should be a spot waiting for him.

KPJ showed some nice flashes as a passer and will continue to get better at making consistently strong and direct passes. He has no issue finding the open man or passing once the defense has collapsed following his dribble penetration.

Remember, he’s 20 years old and hasn’t played enough ball yet since coming out of High School. Get this man time on the court for the Houston Rockets quickly, and then watch him flourish.

Stats From Today’s Game:

32 Points, 7 Rebounds. 9 Assists, 2 Steals, 4 Turnovers, 12/18 FG, 2/4 3PT, 3/5 FT

 

Make sure to follow Aram Cannuscio on Twitter here as he continues to provide live clips and information on everything pertaining to the 2021 NBA Draft. 

Ben Simmons is Defensive Player of the Year worthy | The Atlantic Files Ep174

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Ben Simmons

The Atlantic Division has had a couple of notable situations take place in just the last week. Derrick Rose has been traded to the New York Knicks and Ben Simmons said he’s the best defender in the NBA.

Neither of these things really has changed the landscape of the league nor the Atlantic Division itself. Some people might be enthralled with Rose going to New York, but in reality, it isn’t moving the needle in either way.

Derrick Rose has one of the most inspiring stories in NBA history and he has worked incredibly hard to still be a meaningful contributor on a team. While his experience and skill set will be useful in New York, it’s not going to push them any further than they were already projected.

Then, we have Ben Simmons catching a lot of flack for what he said in a post-game presser. Confidence is key in any sport, especially on the defensive side of the ball in the NBA. His defense has been noted by a lot of people across the league, but fans keep letting his jump shot overshadow anything else he does.

Finally, we have gotten a second round of NBA All-Star voting returns. The top vote-getters are not surprising at all. We’ve seen them there before and they probably will continue to be the top voted players for years to come. The fringe players are the ones that are surprising though. Alex Caruso, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook getting the same or more votes as someone like Fred VanVleet? Make it make sense!

All of that and more on the latest episode below!

Timestamps:

2:00 – Derrick Rose traded to the New York Knicks

7:20 – Ben Simmons says he’s the best defender in the NBA

11:30 – 2021 NBA All-Star voting returns

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Louis King showcasing NBA talent with the Westchester Knicks

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Louis King
Photo Credit: Alex Fischbein / Basketball Society

Louis King is the first official member of the “Too Good for G League” team. As part of the Westchester Knicks, Louis King in the game today dominated on both ends of the court to help lead the Knicks over the Swarm by a score of 118-106 despite Jared Harper going down early with an injury.

Jared Harper ended up in a walking boot in the 2nd half after injuring his ankle badly in the first few minutes of the game. After posting 31 points and 13 assists in the Knicks’ first game of the season, Harper’s absence left the scoring and playmaking in the hands of Tyler Hall, Myles Powell, and the player I’ll be focusing on now, Louis King.

In the first game of the year, Louis King came off the bench and played under 20 minutes, shooting the ball only twice (He made both shots). Today, he was much more aggressive on the offensive end, but still showcased his elite IQ on the defensive side of the ball.

Passing/Creating for Others

Louis King showed the ability to create off the dribble time and time again in the game today. Not often would his passes result in assists, but that generally was not his fault. Most importantly, the passes he would deliver would be timely and would put his teammates in good positions to score.

The quick decision making is what stood out. The action was decisive, leading to early, good offense. Myles Powell usually took up the ball, but when King got it, he’d get straight into running two-man games or taking his opponent off the dribble. He’d force the defense to crash and then kick out to the corner or lay off a beautiful pocket pass to a rolling big. Here are a few examples:

Off the Dribble Scoring/Shooting

Part of Louis King being able to create for others has to do with his improved handle this year. It’s compact and he’s able to use it to his advantage whereas at times it would lead him into shots that he didn’t want to take last year.

While King shot 1/5 from deep, he did show some scoring and shooting flashes that certainly point towards him finding success from deep. (Of those 2 shots I had mentioned he hit yesterday, one was a made three.)

Inside the arc is where he flourished today, creating plenty of space with that improved handle and an array of moves we didn’t often see at Oregon.

He made one shot from the corner on a stand-still opportunity, but he definitely seemed much more comfortable putting the ball down and attacking today.

When attacking, Louis King showed an elite touch around the basket. He utilized floaters, runners, and often used his body to shield himself from the rim protectors in order to finish. He is comfortable using either hand around the rim.

King just seems much more under control when initiating offense this year. Moving off ball is one big component that helps him get easier buckets. He has showed the ability to come off of DHO’s as well as make cuts to the appropriate spots to fit into passing lanes for teammates.

Even on his misses, he is showcasing the talent that points towards King being a future NBA full-time rotational player.

On Ball Defense

Louis King did a fine job of sticking with his man tonight. He doesn’t have elite lateral quickness, but he puts in the effort and takes the right angles to disallow any easy buckets.

King’s 7’0 wingpsan is what will aid him significantly on defense. There were a few occasions where King got beat off the dribble, but was able to poke the ball away from the defender because of his long arms. He’s going to pick pocket some players at times that could lead to easy transition points.

King had 2 steals in the contest, but he also happened to have 3 blocks as well. You can see two of the three below and you can see how that wingspan can make up for the space that was created from the quicker step from the initiator.

He times jumps well and doesn’t swipe at the shooter without purpose. He only gets off his feet if the initiator already has.

Off Ball Defense

The last component I’ll discuss is his off ball defense. There was one thing particularly I wanted to highlight that I saw a few times in the game today. With everything I noted regarding his on ball defense, the common factor across the board for King is a high defensive IQ. I think these clips will prove just that.

It’s always fascinating to see what players do as the opposing team is in transition with numbers. Some just become a ball watcher while others get in position to stop the ball. Not many players communicate and rotate to the open man like Louis King does.

Watch these clips below and see how he always floats to the corner or at least threatens to go there to not allow any other option for the ball handler other than shooting the rock.

In case you missed it, in that last clip he does it twice.

It’s an instinctual thing for Louis King, sometimes you notice that he doesn’t even swivel his head yet still knows where he has to be to cut off any swing to the corner.

Stats and Final Thoughts

Stats: 21 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK, 3 TO, 9/15 FG, 1/5 3PT, 2/3 FT

Louis King had an outstanding game today for the Westchester Knicks and certainly played today like he was one of the best five players in the entire G League bubble. If this production continues from him, I can’t imagine an NBA team letting him sit without a full-time NBA contract for too much longer.

 

Make sure to follow Aram Cannuscio on Twitter here to continue to gain more NBA Draft/College Basketball/G League content. 

G League Ignite Prospects Game 1 Notes

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G League Ignite Prospects
Photo Credit: Tim Lang / Basketball Society

When watching prospects in their first action in a while, it is important not to make too many overreactions. But, to be honest, it was hard not to following a couple outstanding performances from some of the G League Ignite Prospects.

Here are some of my notes on the main four G League Ignite prospects that played today:

Jonathan Kuminga

Stats: 19 PTS, 2 REB, 4 AST, 2 BLK, 4 TO, 9/18 FG, 1/7 3PT, 0/1 FT

Let’s start with the one that probably had their stock most affected by his performance. Jonathan Kuminga had an unbelievable performance with regard to the transition he has immediately made to G League size and talent.

Kuminga did not have the best shooting night, but his ability to get to the rim and finish 8/11 shots inside the arc was the keen number to focus on. He had no problem taking his opponent off the dribble and continued to make controlled finishes.

Whether it was off the dribble or out of the post or in size-up situations, Kuminga was gaining the separation needed to get to the cup.

While, as stated, his shooting wasn’t on tonight, he did show some flashes. That’s what is important right now.

Even though he was just 1/7 from deep, his misses weren’t that bad. Most, if not all, were on target and simply were too long or too short. The ones that he did make showed a lot of what he could do.

The passing was on display as well, out of the P&R and in transition. It’s certainly something that we will have to monitor as G League Ignite gets more games in. Live dribble passing is something that I hadn’t seen much of from Kuminga before and he displayed it in this first clip below.

In all, the offensive game was extremely fun to watch today. His size has him already ready for the NBA and he shouldn’t find it too difficult to transition next year. The handle I would like to see get a bit tighter (which it will with time) and the three point shot will just need to continue to be worked on. But, there were just so many bright offensive flashes that there shouldn’t be really any negatives taken away from his performance.

On the defensive end, Kuminga moved his feet well and prevented a few drives as he kept the initiator in front of him. He did ball watch a little too much at times, but it’s not something to focus too much on right now as that was just his first performance. He even ended up making the game-clinching block in this clip below late in the 4th to secure the win.

Again, just an exceptional debut from Jonathan Kuminga.

Jalen Green

Stats: 11 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 3 TO, 4/10 FG, 1/3 3PT, 1/1 FT

Jalen Green came into this game in the top 5 of many draft evaluators’ boards and deservedly so. He was such an impressive High School athlete and showed a variety of tools that could certainly benefit him as he transitioned to the NBA.

Today, we saw a good amount of struggles from Jalen Green. As I’ve stated with other prospects, the first game from someone in a season isn’t the one to focus too much on. It’s the next few games that matter, to see what adjustments they’ve made. So, I won’t say too, too much about Jalen Green, but I will highlight some of the struggles, as well as some of the positives from his debut today.

One thing that was noticeable early on from Jalen Green was his inability to create much space. He lacks elite strength to power past defenders, so he relied on his burst and explosiveness and more often than not, it didn’t get him the separation he needed.

In the 2nd half, Jalen Green showed a bit more wiggle to gain separation to then score on his own or pass it off to a teammate.

He is a willing passer, but doesn’t always make the right decision. There were a few occasions where he forced up a shot instead of dropping it off to a teammate. I am looking for that to improve as he gets more opportunities out of the P&R.

Jalen Green will be a solid jump shooter at the next level. The shot selection will determine how efficient he will be. He wasn’t involved too much in the offense today, but it will be interesting to see how he fares when he gets the ball more in upcoming games.

Daishen Nix

Stats: 12 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 4/7 FG, 1/1 3PT, 2/4 FT

If it weren’t for Jonathan Kuminga’s performance, Daishen Nix would be the player we would say that had their stock most greatly affected by their performance today.

He was outstanding all day while making decisions with the ball. The vision, passing acumen, strength, and IQ were on display. The passing is what was so alarmingly impressive as he made a few corner skip passes to Jarrett Jack that were starting NBA PG caliber.

Every pass that I saw Daishen Nix make today was strong, direct, and on target. He constantly found his shooters’ pockets with his passes and directed the offense very efficiently when he was in the game. Simply put, when Nix had the ball, nothing seemed chaotic.

Given his bigger frame, a fear with Daishen Nix was that he was going to struggle gaining space when he attacked the basket. He used his strength so effectively today, particularly on drives, that he made the lack of burst/quickness seem irrelevant.

Defensively is where it definitely seemed like Daishen Nix’s lack of lateral quickness hurt him. He wasn’t bad on defense or unwilling to defend by any means, but if he were to slim down, it certainly could help him on that end.

All in all, Daishen Nix certainly impressed today with his patience, IQ, passing, and driving ability. He didn’t shoot much at all, but the one three pointer he attempted was a nice quick trigger one that he hit before the shot clock buzzer that you can see here:

Isaiah Todd

Stats: 2 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO, 1/4 FG

The last player to talk about is Isaiah Todd, another one of the top tier G League Ignite prospects. He only played 17 minutes, so there won’t be too much to talk about regarding his potential. The part of his game that certainly stood out what his defense.

Todd isn’t the strongest and he’ll need to work on improving his frame, but given his height (6’10), it is extremely impressive how effectively he can switch onto smaller guards.

In this one clip below, you can see how Isaiah Todd switches onto longtime NBA player Jeremy Lin and prevents two drives and forces up a very tough shot.

He moves his feet very well for his size and isn’t afraid to hedge, blitz, or switch on any of these screens. That is something NBA teams absolutely love to see from taller prospects. Stronger NBA players will be able to use their body to create enough room from Todd, so again the added muscle will be a big factor into his future NBA success.

Offensively there wasn’t much to highlight. There was one play he made where he picked up his dribble and then tried to throw it off the backboard to himself a la Tracy McGrady. It was more funny than anything, but even having the confidence to do something like that makes him an intriguing** prospect.

The one bucket that Isaiah Todd made was a moving fade coming off a down screen which shows his ability to move off ball. He has a bit of a slow release it seems, so I’m interested to see if or how he works to speed that up.

Excited to see more from Isaiah Todd as well as the others as we get to see more action out of these G League Ignite Prospects.

 

Follow Aram Cannuscio on Twitter here to continue to catch live highlights of 2021 NBA Draft Prospects and beyond. 

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