Chaisson Allen’s debut season as a head coach in the NBA G-League is off to a perfect start as the Wisconsin Herd have racked up wins in the first two games of the 2021-22 season, besting the Cleveland Charge 126-124 on Monday before downing the Motor City Cruise 121-116 on Thursday.
While scoring may be down in the NBA, the Herd’s showdown with the Cruise, in particular, proved that G League offenses are thriving. In a game that featured 18 lead changes, with both teams building double-digit leads at times, the Herd made a late push to clinch a win as four Wisconsin players tallied 20 or more points. Tremont Waters poured in 24—including an off-the-bounce buzzer-beater heading into halftime—while Rayjon Tucker, Terry Larrier and Sam Cunliffe scored 20 apiece. Jalen Lecque added 15 points as Wenyen Gabriel chipped in 11 of his own. Tucker and Lecque led the club in plus-minus finishing with +16 and +15, respectively.
Another tough Tremont trey to beat the buzzer pic.twitter.com/YS7ulpjVed— Wisconsin Herd (@WisconsinHerd) November 12, 2021
Against Cleveland, the Herd saw a 16-point lead evaporate as they were outscored 41-31 in the final quarter, narrowly escaping an 0-1 start to the season. Lindell Wigginton paced the team in scoring out of the backcourt, notching 22 points with Javin DeLaurier contributing 20 of his own while going 8-for-9 from the field in just under 18 minutes of playing time.
Through both nail-biters, a starting five has taken shape with Waters, Wigginton, Tucker, Terry Larrier and Gabriel taking to the court for opening minutes. Of that line-up, Gabriel is the only player to not yet record a 20-point game, though coming close in the opener as he scored 18 against the then-Tacko Fall-less Charge to go along with 12 rebounds. In a shot-happy league, Gabriel is proving to be more than equipped to clean up misses, as six of those boards came off the offensive glass.
The trio of guards featured in both nights’ starting line-ups are still finding their balance and learning how to best play off one another. Waters’ 12 assists against Cleveland and the identical 66.7% three-point shooting he and Tucker put up against the Cruise are both promising signs to see early, even if the numbers will likely regress at least somewhat over the course of a full season. Wigginton, for his part, has been touch-and-go, showing out against the Charge and having a quiet 27 minutes against the Motor City squad.
Off the bench, Lecque has been as explosive as expected, and made 3-of-7 from long range in a 13-point effort on opening night.
Most surprising thus far is the lack of minutes for Jemerrio Jones, expected to be a major contributor to the Herd this season with his endless motor and nose for rebounds. After being marked as a DNP – Coach’s Decision for the Cleveland match, Jones was active against the Cruise but did not log a single minute. While he is sure to get playing time soon, there is a chance that the coaching staff is sizing up some of the newer additions to the roster in what otherwise would have been Jones’ playing time, as he enters the season already familiar with the club.
The Herd faces the Cruise again Friday night, Nov. 12, in the second game of a back-to-back. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT in Detroit’s Wayne State Arena.