21 - 24
September 2023
Meet the team: Ignite arrive with potential top two NBA Draft picks
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Meet the team: Ignite arrive with two potential top NBA Draft picks

SINGAPORE (Singapore) - The NBA G League will be represented at FIBA Intercontinental Cup Singapore 2023 by one of the most exciting young teams in the entire world - the NBA G League Ignite.

Who are they?

The NBA G League Ignite are a development team, created in 2020 to provide the high school, college and international prospects an avenue towards the NBA Draft. The idea was a success, with current NBA players such as Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga and Scoot Henderson coming through the Ignite program.

The initial plan was for the team to play in exhibition games, but Ignite has  been a part of the NBA G League for three seasons now, including a run all the way to the Quarter-Finals  of the playoffs in 2020-21.

Through the years, Ignite has settled on a format which works best for this kind of team. The front office surrounded the younger players with experienced NBA veterans and internationals, such as John Jenkins, Jeremy Pargo and David Stockton, who are happy to mentor teenagers destined for big careers.

How did they get here?

The NBA G League Ignite will arrive in Singapore as the representative of the NBA G League. The FIBA Intercontinental Cup has seen a club from the G League during each of  the last four years, with the Lakeland Magic and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers achieving the best results - third place finishes in February 2022 and February 2023, respectively.

Last season, NBA G League Ignite finished 11th in the Western Conference.

Why should we watch them?

A lot of NBA Mock Drafts for 2024 have two players on this roster in the Top 5 picks, but with the way they could develop over the course of the season don't be surprised if three or even four names end up in the top ten NBA Draft picks next summer.

That's because a potential #1 pick, Ron Holland, is on this team. The forward is a one-of-a-kind athlete, able to finish with both hands around the rim and guard almost every position on the defensive end.

The only thing that's concerning the scouts is his outside shooting, but his 9-of-13 shooting for 23 points against the Perth Wildcats in an exhibition game on September 6 in Las Vegas is a stat line that suggests he'll be just fine.

The reason why there's a question mark next to Holland's name at number one? His teammate Matas Buzelis. A taller and slimmer forward with good ball handle, Buzelis comes from a Lithuanian-American family full of athletes on all branches of the family tree, and he spent his younger days as a guard, giving you a clue why he's so good with the ball in his hands.

He can create, he can score, and he can defend.. No wonder then the scouts and GMs are falling in love with him even before his first official game at this level.

And then, there's the case of Izan Almansa. The Spaniard is the most successful player in the history of FIBA Youth Events, and has made winning MVP awards something of a habit. He will most definitely develop throughout the season to potentially jump into the Top 10 of the NBA draft.

If he makes it back from his injury in time, keep an eye on Thierry Darlan, the Central African guard who was the MVP of the Basketball Without Borders event in Cairo in 2022 after coming through the NBA Academy Africa.

Who will they play in Singapore?

The NBA G League Ignite will be in Group A at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 Singapore. They start their campaign on September 21, facing the Basketball Africa League winners, Al Ahly, at 19:00 local time, After a day off, they will face Basketball Champions League Americas winners Sesi Franca on September 23 (15:00 local time).

The winner of that three-team group will move to the Final, the second-placed team will fight for the third step of the podium against the runner-up from Group B, while the bottom placed team plays one more game, battling for fifth spot in the tournament against the bottom placed team from Group B.