The G-League Season Begins with Santa Cruz Warriors’ Victory
The G-League season kicked off on November 10 with a win for the Santa Cruz Warriors, led by Nicholas Kerr, son of Steve Kerr, as the head coach of the Californian franchise’s affiliate team in the NBA’s second tier. One player who is expected to have a significant role in the team is Spanish power forward Usman Garuba, thanks to the unique contract he signed in September. Garuba’s contract, known as a “two-way” agreement, allows him to play for both the main team and the subsidiary of the Warriors, but with a limit of 45 days of service in the NBA. Until his contract conditions change, Garuba will primarily focus on the developmental league group.
Garuba’s Challenging Debut
In his first game with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Garuba faced difficulties. The player’s speed led to him committing six fouls in just 13 minutes of play, resulting in his elimination from the game. Despite this setback, Garuba contributed 4 points, with a 66.7% shooting success rate, and grabbed 6 rebounds.
Warriors Triumph over Stockton Kings
The Santa Cruz Warriors secured their first victory of the season with a 125-114 win against the Stockton Kings, the Sacramento Kings’ affiliate team. The game took place at the Kaiser Permanente Arena. Brazilian player Gui Santos made his debut for the Warriors, adding an interesting dynamic to the matchup, as he had previously faced Garuba in the World Cup during the first group phase. Jeremy Lamb was the top scorer for the Stockton Kings with 22 points.
Competition for Playing Time
Garuba faces competition for playing time from two young players who are part of the Golden State Warriors’ rotation. Both Brandin Podziemski, who scored 24 points, and Trayce Jackson-Davis, the team’s leading scorer with 28 points, have an advantage over Garuba in terms of playing time. Unlike Garuba, neither of them has a dual contract. Quiñones and Robinson are the other two players on the roster.
Other Spanish Players in the G-League
Izan Almansa, another Spanish player in the G-League, had a more successful performance. Despite his team’s defeat, Almansa contributed 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in 29 minutes as a starter. Almansa plays for Ignite, an experimental team of young players aspiring to be drafted. They lost to the Clippers’ affiliate team by a close score of 102-109. Tyler Smith, a potential first-round pick in 2024, and former ACB player John Jenkins both scored 22 points. Ron Holland, a potential number one pick, scored 21 points.
Other Standout Performances
Several players had notable performances in the G-League:
- Luka Garza (Iowa Wolves): 37 points, 13 rebounds
- Duop Reath (Rip City Remix): 37 points, 10 rebounds
- Terquavion Smith (Delaware Blue Coats): 37 points
- Justin Jackson (Texas Legends): 25 points
- Juan Toscano-Anderson (Mexico City Captains): 24 points
- Max Heidegger (Windy City Bulls): 24 points
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