Ignas Brazdeikis showed his true potential with the Westchester Knicks this season, so were the New York Knicks too late to call him up?
With essentially every current season and event experiencing a shutdown, we can only hope for this COVID-19 situation to improve. But as we wait for the NBA season to continue (if it even does), it’s never too late to discuss ways to fix the New York Knicks.
During the last few matchups prior to the suspension, the team gained chemistry and singular players truly stepped up their game. RJ Barrett improved his scoring ability, Mitchell Robinson became a defensive anchor, and another individual that no one seemed to notice really grew as a player in the G League.
That individual is none other than Lithuanian-born forward Ignas Brazdeikis.
Despite the limited number of minutes he played with New York, Brazdeikis’ game certainly improved by playing at the developmental level.
Simply speaking, Ignas has been balling out ever since the Knicks drafted him back in June. He goes out and impresses whenever he earns minutes, and the Knicks indeed may have been too late in calling him up to the NBA.
The second-round draft pick (No. 47 overall) out of the University of Michigan spent most of his time this season portraying his talents for the Westchester Knicks. He appeared in 24 out of the 41 games Westchester played this year with 24 starts.
During that span, he put up averages of 20.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Ignas improved in each of the aforementioned categories from his lone season played at Michigan. The one thing that stood out about his overall game though was his scoring confidence.
Brazdeikis was able to set a season-high with Westchester on Nov. 18 when he recorded 36 points in a loss to the Grand Rapid Drive.
Being the physical player that he is, Ignas remained consistent with driving to the basket, averaging 5.25 buckets in the paint per game. He also seemed more confident with his shot behind the arc, having converted on 34.4% of his attempts from three-point land.
His confidence is what kept him going all season. Brazdeikis put together 15 games with at least 20 points and five games with at least 30 points. But with the season suspended, we may never know if that consistency would continue.
Another aspect of his game that saw a major change was his rebounding ability. Back at the University of Michigan, Iggy averaged a total of 5.4 rebounds per game. But while surrounded by more experienced players in the G League, he improved that stat line by averaging 7.2 rebounds per game.
On Jan. 11, Ignas snatched a career-high 14 rebounds in a win over the Lakeland Magic.
After that matchup, Ignas experienced two separate games in which he grabbed 13 boards. Most of his rebounds came from the defensive end, as he recorded 132 in his time with Westchester.
Another difference in Iggy’s game was his ball-handling capabilities, especially his comfort level in those regards. Ignas used to struggle a lot in the pick-and-roll area but has progressed ever since.
His work ethic skyrocketed during his time in Westchester and was something the Knicks never noticed. If the season picks up again, Brazdeikis should be someone who’s on New York’s target lift for the future.