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Key takeaways by the Draft Dude after the new crop of G-League Ignite prospects made their professional debuts.
The saying goes that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. After opening up the first quarter getting mollywhopped 20-0 by the Iowa Wolves, the new crop of G-League Ignite prospects certainly made theirs.
This Ignite team may not have the same blue chip talent that last season’s squad had, but there are still a number of meaningful prospects to pay attention to as we look forward to the 2022 NBA Draft.
It all starts with five star sharpshooter Jaden Hardy.
Hardy, the number three rated prospect on ESPN’s board, struggled mightily in his professional debut. While Hardy landed the starring role in the Ignite sequel, he’s not nearly as polished or experienced as the leading man he’s filling in for. Sources have told me that Hardy has also struggled in Ignite practice settings; having trouble processing the speed of the game, making the right reads as a playmaker, and understanding the nuance of NBA basketball. It may take a little bit of time for Hardy to get comfortable at the next level.
Still, Hardy is one of the most outlandish shot makers in the class. The creativity, range, and degree of difficulty in the shots he took and made in high school drew comparisons to guys like Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard. Those same looks just didn’t fall during his debut. Hardy struggled to get separation all night, oftentimes forcing the issue and settling for highly contested shots.
Hardy looked better when he moved off the ball putting himself in position to receive the ball off movement and attack the rim with a head of steam with the defender on his back instead of his hip.
This wasn’t the debut that Hardy truthers like myself were hoping for, but before we hit the panic button, let’s remember that Jalen Green looked similarly lost in his debut before exploding the rest of the way.
Starting alongside Hardy in the backcourt was Aussie guard Dyson Daniels. Daniels numbers don’t pop off the screen, but early on he looked the most poised of all the young Ignite prospects. Daniels only attempted three shots, but his lone made field goal was a super impressive rainbow step back with a hand in his face that dropped in the net as light as a feather.
Daniels’ handle is a bit worrisome, it’s too loose and he dribbles too far out in front of his body on crossovers. NBA ballhawks like Patrick Beverly or Davion Mitchell won’t let him get the ball past half-court if he doesn’t tighten it up. However, the times that Daniels was able to use his blazing speed to get downhill, he showed off brilliant court vision and IQ, whipping advanced passes to weakside shooters.
I’m not quite sure if Daniels is a full time point guard just yet, but he showed intriguing flashes early on that make me interested in seeing more of whatever it is that he is.
The most impressive Ignite prospect on the floor vs the Wolves Friday night was Washington native MarJon Beauchamp. Long, bouncy, and fluid; Beauchamp is the type of two way wing prospect that every NBA team is looking for. When he had opportunities to attack in space, he showed off the type of NBA athleticism that will leave scouts drooling.
Beauchamp made the kind of defensive mistakes you’d expect from a young prospect playing in their first pro game, but he was active and has the kind of measurables that help make up for his imperfections. He had some real impressive moments closing out and bothering shooters with his length. It’s gonna be fun tracking his development on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Beauchamp isn’t on most pre-season draft boards at the moment and he’s gonna have to prove that he can shoot it a little to make his way into the top half of the draft, but after his debut performance, Beauchamp certainly has the potential to see his stock rise in a big way on the Draftdaq.