Sarr, Holland shine as Perth and Ignite split intense two-game series
For the second consecutive year in the G-League Fall Invitational, a French seven-footer dominated the proceedings against the young, hungry talent of the G-League Ignite.
Victor Wembanyama was already a household name when he showed out last year, but Alexandre Sarr (pictured) made himself one with his pair of performances against the Ignite this week.
The 7’1 18-year-old averaged 21.5 points in the two contests, but the box scores don’t do justice to Sarr’s impact on the two games. It was his freak athleticism, sensational touch around the rim and clutch plays that made Sarr stand out as much as he did on a floor loaded with future NBA talent.
As many as 10 players could eventually end up playing on an NBA roster, but it was Sarr, and his opponent Ron Holland, who outshined the rest on Wednesday and Friday night.
Ron Holland, who stands at 6’7, was the most consistent scorer. He was unstoppable attacking the basket with his high level speed and ferocity in the lane as he averaged 28 points to lead the Ignite against the Perth Wildcats. On Friday’s broadcast, G-League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim lauded Holland’s defensive instincts as well, which was on full display for the Dallas native who forced eight steals and often converted with a highlight play in transition to cap it off.
Both Sarr (17th overall) and Holland (6th overall) should expect to see their mock draft projection rise after their standout performances this week.
But it wasn’t all perfection from them.
Sarr averaged five turnovers per game, with most of these coming from the shuffling of his feet before he put the ball on the deck. It’s a minor adjustment, but was costly nonetheless against the Ignite. To maximize his potential, the Toulouse native will need to tighten his handles and slow himself down to avoid the travelling violations that ended many possessions.
As for Holland, his aggressive defensive style got the best of him at times, placing him in foul trouble early and often. If he can become more fundamentally sound on this end, and become more disciplined with his hands, he can be an elite defender in the NBA. Despite the deficiencies, he’s looking more and more like a top 5 pick in a weak draft class.
For as talented as Sarr and Holland are, neither came into the week ranked as the top prospect from the matchup. That honor belonged to Matas Buzelis, who was projected as the fourth pick before Wednesday’s game.
The 6’11 Sunrise Christian Academy product got off to a slow start in Game 1, but flashed some highlight plays that epitomized his unique skillset. The most impressive was a drive to his right before he switched hands on a behind-the-back dribble and finished through contact at the rim for an and-one.
In Game 2, he showed off his size versatility and leaping ability after he cut from the corner and delivered a monster slam over Perth guard Tai Webster.
Outside of these highlight reel plays, there were some concerns with Buzelis’ finishing around the rim. On multiple occasions, and specifically on back-to-back plays at the beginning of Game 2, Buzelis failed to finish around the rim even with his dominant right hand. This is a trend worth following as the season rolls along for the 18-year-old.
Other standouts for the G-League Ignite included Izan Almansa, Tyler Smith and Babacar Sane.
Almansa, who became the first player to win the U19 and U17 World Cup MVP awards, looked terrific in both contests and certainly supported his draft projection heading into the event at 13th in our mock draft.
At the end of the first quarter in Game 1, Almansa dominated Sarr for a minute stretch, bodying him under the basket before a double team came, jumping the passing lane and finishing at the other end and beating Sarr down the floor in transition to register another easy bucket.
The Spaniard’s intelligence and quick movement out of screens opened the floor for himself to finish and for his teammates. Very simply, Almansa contributes winning plays whenever he is out there, much like Jaylin Williams does with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Smith is a fluid 6’10 forward who could get caught between positions at the next level but possesses a smooth jumper that extends beyond the arc to help spread the floor. The 19-year-old is not currently projected in our mock draft, but could see a rise after his effort against the Wildcats.
Sane can only be described as a sensational athlete with a motor that no other player could match this week. He can speed himself up and play out of control at times, but his energy makes him impossible to miss out on the floor. Look for him to be an athletic spark-plug this season as he develops fundamentally for the Ignite.
London Johnson is one player that hasn’t shown great development in his time in the GLeague. He still lacks consistency shooting, doesn;t always look to get teammates involved and is just an average athlete by NBA standards.
Australia’s Ben Henshall is a 6’5 wing with respectable shooting ability but lacks great speed.
Jordan Usher and Bryce Cotton were the stars of the show for the Perth Wildcats and should at least earn a tryout or two with NBA teams looking to fill out their roster. Cotton buried eight of his 10 3-pointers in Game 2 while Usher averaged 23 points over the two games.