On Thursday afternoon, the NBA G League unveiled the five veterans that will be joining Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and other elite high school prospects on the G League Ignite squad. That group includes: veteran 6’4 guard Cody Demps, sharp-shooting wing Reggie Hearn, 14-year NBA veteran Amir Johnson, versatile 6’9 forward Brandon Ashley, and guard Bobby Brown, who has experience in about any league that you can imagine.
Although this announcement is a little more than an hour old as I’m writing this piece, I’m already confident in saying that the league hit it out of the park with the selection of these players. About one month ago on my personal Twitter account, I made a list of the three player prototypes the league should go after to place around the high school talent: bigs that can roll to the rim, pass-first guard, and sharp-shooting wings and forwards.
In terms of that first prototype, i feel like Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Rod Stickland couldn’t find a better player that isn’t on an NBA deal than Amir Johnson. Entering the Association in 2005 as an 18-year-old prospect, the 6’9 forward was able to have a phenomenal 14-year career, where he started 485 games, through being a great rim-runner, lob threat, and being able to crash the offensive boards.
In terms of on-court fit, that would allow him to work alongside point guard Daishen Nix in pick-and-rolls while being there to run in transition with Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga. From an off-court perspective, he could be a tremendous mentor to the young prospects through having first-hand experience with going from high school to the NBA and being able to stick in the NBA for more than a decade.
Sticking with the front-court, Ashley is a lesser-known prospect that could be one of the the hidden treasure on this team. That statement comes through him being an incredibly versatile 6’9, 230 pound forward that can hit perimeter jumpers, dive to the rim, crash the glass, and defend both the perimeter and rim. Those qualities will allow him to be an integral part of the team as being a player that can play many roles for the young team while giving some much needed forward depth.
Moving to wing, Reggie Hearn is actually one of the names that was brought up in an article from April that was entitled “Five Veterans That Would Be A Good Fit On The G League Select Team”. As I mentioned in that piece, he’s spent seven years in the league establishing himself a a premier catch-and-shoot threat that has shot 40% on 1513 career three-point attempts. That perimeter efficiency combined with the reputation that he’s built as a solid locker room presence and veteran leader makes him a great addition to this squad.
Sticking with backcourt presences that spent years playing with the Reno Bighorns/Stockton Kings, Cody Demps has been able to make an impact at the G League level through being a high energy player that works hard on defense that can also be part of an offense without having the ball in his hands.
What I mean by that is that Demps is able to work off-ball to get open, whether that’s finding holes to cut through, moving the ball to the open man, or working around screens and hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers. Those combined factors has allowed him to be an ideal teammate, and even get a 10-day deal with Sacramento back in April, 2019, which is something that you don’t see from a player that went to school at Sacramento State. A year-and-a-half later, those traits should allow the 6’4 guard to be an integral part of the G League Ignite.
To finish this piece, we go to Bobby Brown, a 36-year-old guard that will be making his G League debut after spending thirteen years as a pro. Although he hasn’t spent a second in the G League, the veteran has still had an amazing career that any athlete should be proud off. During his thirteen year career, he’s established himself as a premier scorer no matter if he’s playing in the Euroleague, NBA, Bundesliga, Greece, Italy, China, the Drew League or TBT. With that type of resume, Bobby Brown is the baller that ballers throughout the world have respect for.
Along with the insight that he can give as someone that has spent more than a decade playing professional basketball, Brown gives the team a 6’2 guard that can create his own shot and work the ball around as a facilitator. That second skill is going to be necessary as the team doesn’t have a guy you can depend on to run the offense outside of Daishen Nix.