A combination of porous perimeter defense and carelessness with the ball saw the Go-Go go down by double digits early in their first game against the Birmingham Squadron. Two threes late in the first quarter by Joel Ayayi kept it semi-respectable, as they trailed by 14 at the end of the period.
Unfortunately, they were really never able to erase that early deficit. Every time they seemed poised to make a comeback, which has been a common occurrence for the Go-Go this season, they gave up a lightly contested three or a turnover that led to an easy fast-break basket. They cut the Squadron’s lead to 5 with just over 2 minutes to play but weren’t able to capitalize and, ultimately, lost 126-115 to Birmingham.
Jordan Schakel had 20 points on 4-9 from three. Jaime Echenique recorded another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Cassius Winston had 17 points but was 1-6 from 3 (barely grazing the rim on two attempts) and had 4 costly turnovers. Jordan Goodwin had 16 points on 7-14 shooting to go with 5 rebounds and 3 turnovers of his own. Isaiah Todd has 9 points in 4-12 from the field and 1-7 from three.
Despite the name change to G League, development is still the main draw of watching basketball at this level. Raw players like Todd are often mixed bags, which is why actual professional minutes are so valuable for them. Todd certainly made the most of his minutes in the second game. He recorded 25 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 turnovers. He made 8-18 from the field and 7-9 from three.
Most of those threes were catch-and-shoot opportunities, a few of which came from several feet behind the line with a hand in his face. Todd hit one particularly impressive step-back three in the first quarter that showed off exactly the type of potential that caught the Wizards’ eye during the predraft process. Not too many guys his size can make plays like that. The next step for him will be stringing good performances together consistently.
As good as Todd was, Schakel and Goodwin were equally important to the Go-Go’s 106-89 win over the Iowa Wolves. Schakel 18 points on 4-7 from three. After an extremely slow start shooting the ball, he has really turned it on as of late. Goodwin had 10 points (on 5-16 shooting), 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. That is only the second triple-double in Go-Go history.
Greg Monroe also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Winston and Echenique each only played 13 minutes as this game was essentially over by halftime. In the second quarter, the Go-Go held the Wolves to 6 points. No, that is not a typo. It was a combination of stifling defense from the Go-Go and anemic offense from the Wolves.
Basically, the G League Showcase showcased exactly what you get in the G League, some really good and some not so good. That sums up what I saw from the Go-Go between their two games. Like with the Wizards, when this team commits defensively and doesn’t get down big early, they seem more comfortable offensively and are tough to beat. The team is now 7-7 on the season. Their next game is on December 28th against the Delaware Blue Coats in Wilmington, DE.