Jonathan Kuminga

And-Ones: Ignite, BayHawks, Go-Go, Practices, Lewis

With the 2021 G League bubble coming to an end last week, players on the G League Ignite have essentially gone their separate ways and are expected to train individually ahead of the draft, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

The roster has four players in particular — Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix — who are projected to be drafted in 2021. Green and Kuminga are recognized as probable high lottery picks.

The team’s facilities in Walnut Creek, California remain available for players to use, Stein adds. The Ignite finished its inaugural season with an 8-7 record, having competed with a unique mix of young players and veterans.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic takes a look at how the G League arrangement between the Wizards and Pelicans worked this season. Washington opted not to have an affiliate in the G League bubble, though the team did reach an agreement to send multiple players to New Orleans’ team, the Erie BayHawks, instead.
  • Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times examines how the coronavirus pandemic has virtually decimated practices in the NBA this season. Woike explores how the pandemic has made it difficult for teams to schedule practices in an unprecedented campaign, something the league hopes will improve as the year goes on. “We use the games as practice,” Nets star James Harden said. “… The most important thing is being ready once the postseason starts.”
  • Maccabi Rishon (Israel) has released guard Trey Lewis, announcing the news on social media today. Lewis, 28, holds several years of overseas experience, also playing with the Jazz’s G League affiliate during the 2018/19 season. He went undrafted in 2015 after playing at Penn State, Cleveland State and Louisville.

Draft Notes: Cunningham, Top Shooters, Todd, Nix

With the NBA G League season nearly over and the NCAA tournament around the corner, Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham remains atop experts’ big boards for the 2021 NBA draft. The freshman capped off an impressive regular season by being named the Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, as the conference announced in a press release.

Cunningham averaged 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game with a .455/.425/.854 shooting line in 22 contests (35.1 MPG) in his first – and almost certainly only – college season. He’ll get a chance to further cement his claim as 2021’s top prospect in this week’s Big 12 tournament and during March Madness. Oklahoma State was banned from the postseason for a year, but their appeal to overturn that penalty is still pending, making the program eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s more on the 2021 NBA draft:

  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a look at the top shooters in the 2021 draft class, identifying WCC Player of the Year Corey Kispert (Gonzaga) as the No. 1 option. Joe Wieskamp (Iowa), Sam Hauser (Virginia), Isaiah Livers (Michigan), and Trey Murphy (Virginia) round out Vecenie’s top five.
  • The G League Ignite’s season is over, as the NBAGL’s select team – which features projected top-five picks Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga – was knocked out of the single-elimination postseason by the Raptors 905 on Monday. Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) examines what we learned about the Ignite’s prospects in the G League bubble, writing that Isaiah Todd boosted his stock with his play down the stretch, while Daishen Nix struggled a little. Todd is considered a first-round prospect by many NBA teams, but Nix is looking more like a second-rounder than a potential lottery pick, Givony adds.
  • The most recent big boards from Givony and Mike Schmitz at ESPN and from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report have plenty of similarities in the lottery, but there are a few notable differences. Connecticut’s James Bouknight is No. 6 on Wasserman’s board and just 11th on ESPN’s, while Tennessee’s Jaden Springer is ranked 12th by Wasserman and all the way down at No. 39 by ESPN. Meanwhile, ESPN ranks Auburn’s Sharife Cooper and Kispert as top-10 prospects, while Wasserman has them 17th and 18th, respectively.

G League Notes: Kuminga, Green, Azubuike, Lin

Projected lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga made a strong impression today in his first professional game, writes Brian Martin of the G League’s website. Playing for the G League Ignite, Kuminga registered 19 points, four assists, two rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes. The 18-year-old also swatted away a shot in the final seconds to help the Ignite pick up a victory in their first-ever game.

“I wasn’t impressed because I see it every day in practice,” Ignite coach Brian Shaw said. “It’s what I expect; it’s what I see every day. He does a lot for us and you guys are just seeing the beginning of what he can do.”

Kuminga was considered one of the top high school players in the country, but he opted to develop his game in the G League rather than college basketball. He is projected as the fifth overall pick in the latest mock draft from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz.

There’s more from the first day of G League action:

  • Team Ignite’s Jalen Green, who is tabbed as the third selection by ESPN, also had a strong debut after overcoming a slow start, Martin adds in the same story. He finished with 11 points and five rebounds, but most of that came after halftime. “Jalen pressed a bit; he was trying too hard, which is natural,” Shaw said. “In having conversations with him about how other teams are gunning for him based on the attention he’s getting. I expect him to bounce back from this game and have a better game next game.”
  • Center Udoka Azubuike, a first-round pick by the Jazz in November, was carried off the court on a stretcher after suffering a leg injury in today’s Salt Lake City Stars game, according to Brandon Judd of The Deseret News. No immediate details were provided on the severity of his injury. Azubuike appeared in 12 games for Utah before the G League season began.
  • The odds are against Jeremy Lin returning to the NBA, no matter how he performs in the G League, contends Dieter Kurtenbach of The San Jose Mercury News. Lin had 18 points and five assists in his first game with the Santa Cruz Warriors, but he’s 32 and Kurtenbach notes that teams are more likely to take chances on younger players.

And-Ones: G League, Lin, All-Star Game, Sloan, ABA

A trio of G League Ignite prospects – Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Green, and Daishen Nix – headline Jeremy Woo’s SI.com list of players to watch during the 2020/21 NBAGL season, which tipped off this morning. Kuminga and Green are widely considered top-five prospects for the 2021 draft, and Kuminga and Nix got off to hot starts in their professional debut today.

[RELATED: G League Ignite Eager To Start Season Under Veteran Leadership]

Kevin Porter, Aleksej Pokusevski, Jontay Porter, and Malachi Flynn are among the G League players on assignment from NBA teams who will be worth keeping an eye on during the next few weeks, according to Woo.

Woo’s list also features Jeremy Lin, an NBA veteran who decided to play in the NBAGL this season rather than accepting more lucrative offers to spend another year in China, as he tells Shams Charania of Stadium (video link). Lin’s Santa Cruz Warriors are in action against the Ignite in today’s opener.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Sam Amick of The Athletic explains why the NBA is holding an All-Star Game this year despite the objections of many of its biggest stars. As Amick details, league officials feel that the modified event can be pulled off safely and believe that fans want to see the game played. Scrapping this year’s All-Star Game may also have required the league to go back to the negotiating table with Turner/TNT to figure out how to make up for the loss of one of the network’s marquee NBA events.
  • Veteran guard Donald Sloan, who appeared in 218 regular season NBA games from 2011-16, has been granted his release by the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian Basketball League, the club announced. The 36ers indicated that Sloan asked to be waived to pursue other opportunities internationally.
  • The NBA is in talks with the Dropping Dimes Foundation about potentially assisting more than 100 remaining American Basketball Association players, many of whom are struggling financially and are in need of pensions, a league spokesperson tells Dana Hunsinger Benbow of The Indianapolis Star.

And-Ones: AmeriCup, Olympics, All-Star Break, Draft

USA Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 12-man roster for the AmeriCup qualifying tournament taking place in Puerto Rico later this month. Several players representing Team USA in games against The Bahamas on February 19 and Mexico on February 20 have already been reported, with former All-Stars Isaiah Thomas and Joe Johnson leading the way.

However, today’s announcement includes a few more players with NBA experience that we haven’t already passed along. Josh Boone, James Nunnally, and Jordan Sibert will also be part of the roster, per today’s announcement.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • FIBA has revealed the groups for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball tournament, announcing today that Team USA will be part of Group A alongside France and Iran. The fourth team in the group will be the winner of a qualifying tournament that includes Canada, Greece, Turkey, China, the Czech Republic, and Uruguay..
  • While players will get a break from March 5-10, between the first and second halves of the season, they’ll have to undergo daily COVID-19 testing during that time and will likely be required to be back in their team’s market two days before the end of that break, says Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report released an updated version of his 2021 mock draft, as did ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link). Both mocks have Cade Cunningham at No. 1, Evan Mobley at No. 2, and Jalen Suggs at No. 4, but disagree about which G League Ignite player should be at No. 3 — Wasserman has Jonathan Kuminga there, while Givony and Schmitz favor Jalen Green.

And-Ones: Competitive Fairness, Surprises, Olympics, Kuminga

The NBA is facing competitive fairness issues stemming from pandemic-related disruptions to the schedule, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The league has postponed 22 games through the first five weeks of the season, and the effects of health and safety protocols are showing up in the standings.

The Wizards are the most obvious example, holding the league’s worst record at 3-11 after roughly half the roster was forced to quarantine. Washington had just one practice before returning to action Sunday after two weeks off. The result was three straight losses by a combined 57 points. The Heat, defending Eastern Conference champions, are off to a 6-12 start while playing with a depleted roster. The teams at the top of the standings — the Lakers, Clippers and Jazz — have been relatively unaffected by the virus.

The Wizards and Grizzlies both had six games postponed and face a difficult road ahead to reach 72 games. Washington is looking at 39 games in 67 days when the NBA releases its second-half schedule, although the league is trying to alleviate that by moving some games to the first half.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The PistonsJerami Grant and the HornetsGordon Hayward are the biggest surprises of the early season, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Both signed huge free agent deals during the offseason that were questioned around the league, but they have emerged as their teams’ best players. Hayward has gone back to the leader he was in Utah, Hollinger notes, while Grant has taken his game to another level.
  • FIBA will hold the draw ceremony for this year’s Olympic basketball tournament on February 2, the organization announced on its website. Eight men’s teams have already qualified, including Team USA, and the final four slots will be filled by the winners of tournaments to be played this summer in Canada, Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia.
  • At least 12 NBA teams have started research on Jonathan Kuminga, a projected high lottery pick in this year’s draft, writes Adam Zagoria for NJ.com. Kuminga, part of Team Ignite, will make his G League debut in the Orlando bubble next month. Ignite coach Brian Shaw compares him to Jaylen Brown and Paul George.
  • Former Net Josh Boone is the latest player to commit to Team USA for the AmeriCup qualifying tournament, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Boone, 36, plays for the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL and was last in the NBA in the 2009/10 season.

And-Ones: J. Johnson, Ignite, Clippers’ Arena, S. Smith

Isaiah Thomas won’t be the only NBA veteran suiting up for Team USA at the AmeriCup qualifiers in San Juan, Puerto Rico next month. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson, who has been out of the league since 2018, will also represent the U.S. in games against The Bahamas and Mexico.

As G League expert Adam Johnson points out (via Twitter), with the NBAGL bubble taking place next month, there will be fewer G League veterans available to represent Team USA than there were at the earlier qualifiers. However, there are a number of former NBA players who weren’t selected in this month’s NBAGL draft who could look to join Thomas and Johnson on the U.S. roster to showcase themselves to NBA teams.

USA Basketball has already qualified for the 2022 AmeriCup tournament by going 4-0 in previous qualifying games, so the team won’t face any pressure in San Juan to win both its games.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Brian Shaw, the head coach of the G League Ignite, spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about the outlook for prospects like Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, why other youngsters should consider the G League out of high school, and whether he has any desire to return to coaching in the NBA.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated also checks in on the Ignite, passing along first impressions of Jalen Green and exploring the roles that the G League veterans on the Ignite’s roster are playing.
  • The City of Inglewood intends to use eminent domain to acquire the land necessary for the Clippers‘ new arena, according to Jason Henry of The Pasadena Star-News, who provides an update on the plans and the timetable for the construction of that building.
  • Veteran basketball analyst Sekou Smith (of NBA TV and NBA.com) passed away on Tuesday due to COVID-19, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. The league and the players’ union both released statements mourning Smith. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

And-Ones: Montgomery, Thomas, NCAA Tourney, 2021 Draft

Former Kentucky forward E.J. Montgomery, who was in training camp with the Bucks last month, has signed with Lithuanian team BC Nevezis, according to an announcement from the club (Twitter link).

After going undrafted in 2020 following his sophomore season with the Wildcats, Montgomery caught on with Milwaukee on a non-guaranteed camp deal, but was cut on December 16. While the Bucks may have, at one point, envisioned Montgomery as a potential G League affiliate player, the Wisconsin Herd opted out of the NBAGL’s bubble plan for 2020/21, opening the door for the 21-year-old to pursue another professional opportunity.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Isaiah Thomas and Excel Sports Management have parted ways, as the free agent point guard continues to seek an NBA comeback, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Presumably, Thomas will hire new representation to spearhead the effort to land him an NBA job.
  • The NCAA was forced to cancel March Madness in 2020, but the 2021 event is still scheduled to tip off in mid-March. According to a press release from the NCAA, the plan is for the entire tournament to take place in Indiana to reduce the coronavirus risk associated with travel.
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to a handful of player agents and team executives about what it looks like when a player requests a trade and how the process typically plays out behind the scenes.
  • Draft expert Jeff Goodman of Stadium has unveiled his big board for the 2021 NBA draft, which is headed by Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs. Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), Jalen Green (G League Ignite), Evan Mobley (USC), and Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite) fill out Goodman’s initial top five. The same five prospects are atop ESPN’s big board, albeit in a different order.

And-Ones: Lin, G League, Jenkins, Rookie Extensions

Jeremy Lin will indeed be a late addition to the G League Ignite’s roster for the squad’s scrimmages on Tuesday and Thursday this week, says Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). As Givony explains, Lin lives near Walnut Creek and has been practicing recently with the NBAGL’s Select Team. The veteran point guard will be able to stick with the Ignite in a practice player capacity for as long as he chooses, Givony adds.

The Ignite’s two scrimmages this week against a squad of G League veterans won’t be streamed publicly, but NBA teams will receive access to the film, according to Givony, who lists the rosters for each club (Twitter link). The Ignite are headlined by prospects like Jalen Green, Daishen Nix, and Jonathan Kuminga, while the team of G League vets includes Isaiah Briscoe, London Perrantes, and Bryce Alford, among others.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

And-Ones: Chalmers, Canaan, Brown, Albert, Kuminga

Former NBA guard Mario Chalmers is vying for an NBA comeback, with the 34-year-old currently scanning the market as an unrestricted free agent. Chalmers explained his mindset and present situation in an interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype this week.

“I definitely do,” Chalmers said when asked if he hopes to sign with an NBA team in the near future. “I definitely think I can still help a team, especially with my resume. I have a lot of knowledge since I’ve been to four NBA Finals and won two NBA championships and a college national championship. I just feel like I can provide a lot of knowledge to a young point guard and be a mentor. That’s the role that I’d come back to the NBA and be, so I’m open to it if it happens.”

Chalmers, who holds experience with the Heat and Grizzlies, is a proven veteran with two NBA championships in his collection (2012 and 2013). He last played in the NBA with Memphis during the 2017/18 campaign, spending time in Greece last season.

Chalmers touched on a number of other subjects in the interview and echoed the thoughts of another veteran free agent, Raymond Felton, explaining how several teams are prioritizing younger players over locker room veterans in today’s NBA.

“I’ve definitely experienced that,” Chalmers said. “And, yeah, it is frustrating – just because there’s the saying, ‘A team always wants a winner.’ I just feel like with my resume, I’m a proven winner. I’m not a bad guy in the locker room; I’m not a jerk. So, I just feel like for me to not even get a chance and not even get a workout or nothing like that, it’s a little disheartening. But that’s the way the business goes… I’m definitely surprised how they’ve shifted away from (veterans). Those guys are very important. For me, some of my vets were Dwyane Wade, ‘Bron, Jermaine O’Neal, Jamaal Magloire and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, so I’ve had vets that have actually been All-Stars and they’ve taught me about basketball, about family, about a lot of different things.

“I just feel like if I was an NBA GM or somebody that’s running an NBA team, I would want a couple of vets on my team, just to make sure my young guys are following suit and not doing too much off the court. You want to make sure they’re still focused on basketball and that they understand the business aspect of everything. And once you get to the NBA, you have a lot of freedom. And if you don’t use that freedom wisely, it could be a lot of trouble for you. So, I just feel like vets are good with that stuff. I had a lot of vets who helped me out and I feel like vets are always needed; somebody who’s been there before is always needed to help teach the new school.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent guard Isaiah Canaan has signed overseas in Russia with UNICS Kazan, the team announced today. Canaan, who was drafted 34th overall in 2013, holds NBA experience with the Rockets, Sixers, Bulls, Suns, Timberwolves and Bucks. He spent last season in the NBA G League.
  • Veteran commentators Hubie Brown and Marv Albert won’t be calling games during the league’s restart in Orlando, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets. Brown (86) and Albert (79) have an increased risk with COVID-19, preventing them from being at the campus.
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic explores why class of 2021 high school star Jonathan Kuminga is signing in the NBA G League pro pathway program and reclassifying to the class of 2020. “I don’t see myself as a high school player again. I see my potential as an NBA player and with the G League they’ll help me a lot more than college,” Kuminga said as part of a larger quote.