The G League Fall Invitational is rapidly turning into one in every of my favourite occasions on the basketball calendar. Born out of intrigue for final yr’s Victor Wembanyama vs. Scoot Henderson matchup, the Fall Invitational indicators the start of a brand new draft cycle in addition to the upcoming NBA season with the FIBA World Cup concluding this previous weekend.
This yr, the G League Ignite, getting into its fourth season, hosted the Perth Wildcats of the Australian NBL for 2 video games on the Ignite’s house in Henderson, NV. The Ignite has arguably their most gifted group highlighted by Matas Buzelis, Ron Holland, and Izan Almansa whereas Perth’s prized prospect is former Time beyond regulation Elite large man Alexandre Sarr.
All 4 could make lottery instances, however Sarr was the one making the perfect case for #1 total. Listed here are my three takeaways from the 2 video games:
1. Alexandre Sarr was essentially the most full prospect on the ground
Sarr is one more prospect hailing from a basketball household; his Senegalese father, Massar, performed professionally, and his brother, Olivier, performs for the OKC Thunder and is a former Kentucky Wildcat.
Alex’s personal adorned profession begins in France the place he grew up earlier than signing to Actual Madrid’s youth program the place he spent two seasons. He then spent two seasons in the USA enjoying for Time beyond regulation Elite when it first began.
Now, Sarr finds himself in Australia enjoying for Perth, a transfer that NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger says “shall be of immense profit to Alexandre’s improvement, as he immerses himself in an expert surroundings with a improbable set of coaches and teammates.”
All this shifting round and time spent with prestigious applications has led to Henderson for these two video games, and he actually took the chance by the horns to point out what he’s able to.
Averaging 21.5 factors and 6 blocks, Sarr’s elite instincts and motion stood out. For standing so tall at 7’1, Sarr all the time knew the place to be and was all the time capable of get there. His restoration velocity and size (7’4+ wingspan) mix to make him a potent disruptor, however his really feel on that finish makes him a real nightmare.
In a single occasion, Sarr jumps a passing lane to deflect a ball he’s unable to totally get better, however he sprints again to change onto Ignite star Ron Holland. Sarr is aware of Holland likes to drive, so he overplays to chop off Holland’s lane not as soon as nor twice however thrice, lastly forcing a foul move out after Holland offers up on the play.
In a while when Perth had the second sport in hand, Sarr discovered himself guarding Holland once more, however this time Holland does discover a lane. Holland is wise to assault Sarr’s again, however Sarr is ready to get better and switch for the block.
listed below are simply a few my favourite defensive moments from alex sarr in final week’s g league fall invitational.
each towards potential 2024 high choose ron holland, sarr does such a superb job of utilizing his ft and fingers in tandem to clamp guys. pic.twitter.com/qJvnrfbqkx
— damon (@iamdamonallred) September 11, 2023
As for the opposite facet to offer Sarr the “most full prospect” title, I used to be blown away by how versatile his offensive sport is in addition to how simply it ought to translate to each the NBL and NBA video games. He thrived in each pick-and-roll in addition to pick-and-pop (3-for-5 from three-point vary over the 2 video games) units, but in addition displayed a willingness to do soiled work, whether or not it’s screening away from the ball to open up offense for teammates or taking the lunch pail to the glass, ending a number of second-chance alternatives.
If I needed to poke holes in his offensive sport, his self-shot creation outdoors the paint isn’t nice, nevertheless it’s higher than the place most 7’1 18-year-olds are at; he discovered himself a number of mid-range jumpers to diversified success. It’ll be the ability I observe most in his NBL season.
2. Ignite’s dynamic duo is already fixing their greatest flaws
Matas Buzelis, attending to Ignite by the use of Dawn Christian Academy (KS), is already within the dialog for 2024 top-five because of his mixture of measurement and ability.
He performed level guard for a lot of his prep ball regardless of measuring in at 6’11. Primarily based on how Ignite was utilizing him, they don’t see him as a degree guard, although he was nonetheless capable of finding two assists per sport. As an alternative, he shot 3-of-7 from three over each video games, and obtained to the rim effectively.
The primary concern NBA groups could have subsequent June is how his physique takes contact, particularly when attempting to attain inside. Fortunately, Buzelis has a number of issues working in his favor, like 43.1% 3P marks as a senior in highschool (throughout 25 video games tracked by Synergy) that ought to soften up defenses. Plus, he’s already been capable of make the most of the few months already within the Ignite program, including some seen muscle, ensuing within the first poster dunk of his professional profession:
Ron Holland, the extra aggressive counterpart, comes from Duncanville Excessive (TX). He additionally is available in with two gold medals on his resume, starring for Staff USA – 2021 U16 Americas and 2022 U17 World Cup.
Holland was hyper-efficient as all the time, taking pictures 18-of-32 (56.3 p.c) from the ground in addition to nabbing eight steals throughout each video games, exhibiting how he can influence the sport on each ends. However he even hit 4-of-9 threes, which has been the largest knock on him coming into the cycle.
Essentially the most encouraging factor about these pictures was how creatively Holland was capable of get to them. Generally it’s so simple as a one-dribble pull-up from the elbow, however different instances he’s stringing collectively a cross-over with a stepback for a tricky three.
3. Babacar Sané is proof of rising NBA International Academy
Sané was the prospect I knew the least about coming in, however I’m glad to get to know him as a result of he’s actually a enjoyable watch and is simply my sort of participant.
Sané, together with Thierry Darlan, represents the NBA Academy Africa on Ignite, and each have Basketball Africa League (BAL) expertise. Darlan didn’t play within the Fall Invitational, however Sane averaged 12 factors and 9 rebounds in two video games coming off the bench.
He does a fantastic job of hustling, filling within the gaps, and actually simply doing these ancillary issues that fourth or fifth choices in lineups want to supply. He’s able to attacking closeouts to place further stress on the protection. Admittedly, his 4 turnovers within the first sport regardless of not having a ton of on-ball reps had been slightly worrying, however he was way more cautious with the ball within the second sport, turning it over simply as soon as.
With a fame as a three-level scorer, Sané initiatives so as to add depth to a highly-talented Ignite squad, and he may push for first-round consideration if all goes effectively. Darlan, who might have much more upside, will even be enjoyable to trace this season because it pertains to the rising Africa roots the NBA is continuous to place down.
Hoping that Babacar Sané would not go below the radar this yr. I believe this Ignite workforce shall be extra transition-heavy, which does him effectively, however you possibly can really feel the sport slowing down too. Would’ve rushed performs like these final yr, however appears to be pacing himself a lot better now. pic.twitter.com/bmcfdXMqqf
— Wilko (@wilkomcv) September 7, 2023