Amid draft hype, Brian Shaw keeping Green, Kuminga grounded

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2021 01:38 PM

Jonathan Kuminga (0) high-fives Jalen Green (4) of Team Ignite during the game on February 13, 2021 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida. Juan Ocampo, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

As NBA scouts get their first official look at Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, their coach in Team Ignite is doing what he can to keep the young stars focused on the moment.

Brian Shaw, a five-time NBA champion, is calling the shots for Team Ignite in the NBA G League. He is responsible for guiding not just Green and Kuminga, but other young prospects who are looking to make the jump to the NBA in a year's time. 

But Green and Kuminga are the clear stars of the group, as both are projected to be top five picks in the 2021 NBA Rookie Draft. So far, both are living up to the hype: Green, a high-leaping guard with Filipino roots, is averaging 17.7 points on 56% shooting from the field while playing just 26.7 minutes per game.

Kuminga, meanwhile, is the top scorer among the prospects. He averages 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game for Ignite; the team is currently 3-0 in the G League.

After both players reached the 20-point plateau in Ignite's 113-105 win over the Raptors 905 on Saturday, Shaw acknowledged that they cannot control the hype that will inevitably surround their players.

"I think that the executives that are watching them play understand that they are young. Last year, they were playing in high school," he noted. "This is a completely different stage, a completely different level of physicality and speed to the game, playing against guys who have been playing professionally, who have a lot more experience."

"So they're figuring out, they're showing that they belong, they're showing they're worthy of the hype that surrounds them," he added.

At the same time, Shaw is teaching the Ignite players, particularly Green and Kuminga, not to pay attention to the hype -- especially if it is about their prospects in the draft.

Rather, he wants them to focus on the work that they have to do daily to keep improving and to prepare for a life in the NBA.

"I'm constantly on them about just kind of tuning that out," said Shaw.

"If they work as hard as they have been and continue to do that, learn from the mistakes that they make and get better at them and just play hard every day… We trust in the work that we put in every day, we believe in the work that we put in," he stressed.

"All the draft stuff will take care of itself."

The coach is the first to point out that his players have plenty to improve on, although he is also quite pleased with their progress so far in the season.

The G League is holding its entire season at the Walt Disney World Complex in Orlando, similar to the "bubble" that was done by the NBA. Ignite is one of 16 teams invited to participate.

"They gained a lot of experience in this one game," Shaw said after their victory over the Raptors. "We held them to 34% shooting from the field, and under 16% from three on the 44 attempts that they took."

"So on a night where we turned the ball over a great deal, we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, our defense still gave us a chance to win the game, and that's why we were able to win," he added.

Team Ignite returns to action Monday against Iowa (Tuesday in Manila).

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