Just as the Bucks’ tally of consecutive wins came to an end this week, so did the Wisconsin Herd’s undefeated foray into the young G League season. In two tight contests against the Windy City Bulls, the Herd won 124-116 on Monday night before narrowly dropping the second game 101-102 on Wednesday.
Rebound hero Jemerrio Jones found a rhythm off the bench with 13 boards and 7 assists in the Monday contest, making his presence felt with a game-high plus-minus of +18 after not playing in the first several games of the season.
Jones’ minutes came as Sandro Mamukelashvili and Jordan Nwora made a quick trip to Oshkosh on a G League assignment alongside an appearance from Georgios Kalaitzakis. As expected from players on assignment, Mamu and Nwora put up shots en masse. Nwora went 10-20 from the field, netting 22 points, though he struggled from deep, hitting only two three-pointers on seven attempts. Mamu recorded a more efficient night, tallying 28 points on 68.8% shooting that featured 5-7 shooting from long range and showcased some of the floor-stretching aspects of his game that made him an intriguing draft selection out of Seton Hall. Kalaitzakis’ potential did not shine as bright, however, as the latest Greek addition to the Bucks-Herd system went 0-3 from three in nearly 20 minutes of playing time.
Not to be overshadowed by the new faces in the line-up, Tremont Waters, Rayjon Tucker and Jalen Lecque seemed to be firing on all cylinders as each scored in double-digits on sharp-shooting performances. The three Herd staples all shot 50% or better from long-range, with Waters going 5-7 overall.
This Tuck putback dunk was just pic.twitter.com/kNuKmEp3QQ— Wisconsin Herd (@WisconsinHerd) November 30, 2021
Wednesday’s game saw a more familiar line-up sans Nwora, Mamu and Kalaitzakis. Terry Laurier came off the bench to score 24 in the losing effort as the frontcourt-backcourt combo of Tyler Cook and Devon Dotson powered the Windy City competition to just their second win of the season. Ultimately, a fondness for fouling served as the Herd’s downfall as 18 infractions afforded the Bulls 17 attempts at the line with 11 hitting the mark, helping the visitors erase a 10-point deficit and outscore the Herd 30-19 in the final quarter.
Similarly, fouling was an issue in Monday’s game as the Herd totaled 29 personal fouls with Mamu, Waters and Michael Gilmore each contributing four as Nwora and Wenyen Gabriel pushed the limit by committing five apiece.
The key difference between the two nights boiled down to efficiency and assignments from the NBA club. In particular, the disruption of line-up continuity signified by Mamu and Nwora—and, to a lesser extent, Kalaitzakis—could be pointed at as impeding the rhythm first-year head coach Chaisson Allen had established during the first five games of the season.
Overall, though, the Herd are still 6-1 with a long schedule ahead of them and early returns being promising. The team currently holds a slim lead in points per game, notching 118.3 on average and just pushing the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (118.1) into second place. That proclivity for points has often come hand-in-hand with efficiency for the Herd, too, as they rank no. 2 in field goal percentage (48.3) and no. 4 in three-point percentage (37.0) on the year. This is largely thanks to a team-first approach as no single Herd player ranks in the league’s top 10 in points per game, and only Mamu slots in as a top-five player in any individual statistical category, holding the top spot in three-point percentage by having achieved a 53.8% average in his limited appearances with the team.
The Herd next play Friday night, Dec. 3, as they visit Michigan for a back-to-back with the Grand Rapids Gold. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT in the DeltaPlex Arena.