As NBA teams scurried to put together patchwork rosters while well over 100 line-up mainstays across the league entered health and safety protocols related to COVID-19, the Wisconsin Herd found itself in a precarious position throughout the 2021 G League Showcase Cup despite clinching the Central Division’s top seed.
Held Dec. 19-22 in the throes of this roster attrition, the Herd was swiftly ousted from the single-elimination mid-season tournament, falling to the South Bay Lakers 119-112 on opening day in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Convention Center. A consolation game on Tuesday saw an early lead by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants balloon to a 155-103 final to leave the Herd winless for the trip.
After playing evenly for the first half against South Bay, the Lakers outscored the Herd 40-29 in what wound up being a make-or-break third quarter. With the Herd missing paint mainstay Wenyen Gabriel as he prepared to sign a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, South Bay forward Paris Bass made the low blocks his home, ringing up a double-double with 23 points on 10-15 shooting to go along with 18 rebounds. Herd alum Frank Mason—now famous for his poorly timed Bucks tenure—ran up 20 points and 8 assists against his former club, as well.
I guess I played for the bucks the wrong year lol— Frank Mason (@FrankMason0) November 10, 2021
Simply put, it was not the Herd’s night as their 31.1% three-point shooting lagged severely behind South Bay’s 48.6% clip from deep and the Lakers shot nearly 52% total from the field. To their credit, the Herd stuck with what has worked for them this season, relying on an equitable shot distribution as only three of their nine active players took fewer than 10 shots. Jalen Lecque notched 22 points off the bench while dishing three assists as Terry Larrier, Rayjon Tucker and Lindell Wigginton also added double-figure scoring efforts. Tremont Waters dished seven assists and notched 16 points prior to being temporarily added to the Toronto Raptors’ backcourt, while Jemerrio Jones recorded 14 points and snagged 8 rebounds en route to securing a 10-day contract with South Bay’s notable affiliate based on his reliable tenacity.
Before their 53-point defeat at the Mad Ants’ mandibles, 10 of the Herd’s previous 13 games had been decided by eight points or fewer. Fort Wayne came out of the gates firing, scoring 78 first-half points to the Herd’s 49 respectable-in-any-other-game points. Javin DeLaurier—now a member of the Bucks for at least 10 days—manned the boards with 13 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Lecque once again paced the Herd in scoring with 26 points, including two from a declarative transition dunk:
Wigginton showed up with 22 points and nine rebounds and Larrier put up 18 points as the Herd saw two new players integrated into their line-up as Trevor John and Devonte Patterson played their first games with the team.
In such a lopsided game, the stat that pops the most is the Herd players’ box plus-minus numbers, which ranged from a team-best -23 (John) to -49 (Lecque).
Prior to the Showcase Cup, the Herd went 2-1 over a five-day stretch, defeating the Cleveland Charge 110-107 on Dec. 12 and then splitting a pair of games against the Iowa Wolves: a 113-102 loss on Dec. 13 and a 131-117 win on Dec. 16.
The roster continuity that served as such a strength early in the season is now being ravaged as Herd players are being poached to play on bigger stages—a testament to the quality of players targeted in the Herd’s team-building efforts. As health and safety protocols in the NBA continue to evolve, the Oshkosh roster will likely continue to serve as a revolving door.
After a holiday break, the Herd’s next game is a showdown with the Long Island Nets, scheduled for 7 p.m. CT at Oshkosh Arena.