WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Over the past two weeks, scouts and executives have traveled to the Bay Area to get a first-hand look at the G League Ignite and its six NBA draft prospects in the program's second year of existence.
This time last year, in-person practice visits weren't possible. For weeks workouts were limited, with only one player and coach allowed per basket.
Because of strict COVID-19 protocols, NBA teams were restricted to film evaluations, familiarizing themselves with Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Isaiah Todd and Nix by way of two taped scrimmages against a mishmash of G Leaguers and overseas vets. No NBA personnel were able to enter the Ignite's facilities all season.
Executives ultimately got an in-depth look at the Ignite prospects in the Orlando-based G League Bubble, with most raving about the setup and ability to evaluate the players live amid a global pandemic. But with just a 16-game sample in the Ignite's inaugural season and no true road games, it wasn't easy to gauge how successful the program would be, and if it prepared its prospects for the NBA any better or worse than the traditional collegiate route. Fast forward to this season, and the Ignite have an entirely new coaching staff, six prospects ages 17 to 20 from three different countries, a few new veterans in the fold, and a potential new location for home games.
Will the Ignite, who open the preseason Friday at the Iowa Wolves, produce two top-10 picks again? How do NBA scouts view the program as a whole? We spent two days in Walnut Creek to find out.