Sioux Falls Skyforce NBA Regular Season Recap
Now that the NBA regular season has concluded, a review of the Sioux Falls Skyforce footprint is in order. Twelve players get to focus on next season.
Starting with the team that’s been affiliated with the Skyforce the last four years and has five former players in their midst, the Heat fell just shy of the postseason. Losing a tie-breaker with the Chicago Bulls, Miami stormed through the second half of the season to become the first team to fall 19 games below .500 to finish with an even 41-41 record.
From the Skyforce perspective Hassan Whiteside made a massive impact with 58 double doubles. That number is a Heat franchise season record and ranked fourth in the league behind some other guys you know like James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Karl Anthony Towns.
Considering he was the last player to make the roster, Rodney McGruder comes in at number two among Heat players with Skyforce experience in supplying a jolt to the rotation. “The Scavenger” started 65 of the 78 games in which he played averaging 25 minutes, 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest plus many times drawing tough defensive assignments on the perimeter.
Tyler Johnson can be considered number 2a in his sixth man role, proving his value after signing a big free agent deal last summer. Tyler shot 37 percent from long distance putting up 13.7 points, 4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Injuries sidelined second-year man Josh Richardson for a portion of the campaign, but seemed to find more solid footing as the season drew to a close. Playing in one more game this year than last, Richardson easily eclipsed his numbers from last year in almost all categories.
No one can match the ride of 13-Okaro White for the beginning of a career. His impression during that winning streak cannot be underestimated by making winning plays when given a chance to play for a team beset with injuries.
Seven other Skyforce alums had their moments during the 2016-17 seasons with various other teams. Each with varying degrees of success.
Center Justin Hamilton returned to The Association with a Brooklyn Nets team that struggled with injuries, but never lost their desire to work despite the pile of losses. Hamilton posted career highs in all categories, though he struggled with his outside shot connecting on only 30 percent of his 3-pointers.
Had he played a full season with the Skyforce, it’s quite possible that Briante Weber would have made a case for NBADL MVP. Frankly, he’s a player that should be in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors had him for 20 days, then Charlotte scooped him up for the rest of the season appearing in 13 games for the Hornets down the stretch.
Before this year, Denver had never sent a player to Sioux Falls. Two of them wore a Skyforce jersey as both first round picks from the 2016 draft came out of the Rocky Mountains.
It was only for one game, but forward Juan Hernangomez posted a double-double for the ‘Force on January 6. The highlight for the season with the Nuggets came a few weeks sending Denver to a blowout win over the Warriors with 27 points and 10 boards.
Malik Beasley played three times as many minutes in the D-League with the ‘Force than in the NBA. While with Denver, the guard played in 23 games with one start.
Only 39 games played this season for reserve New Orleans center Alexis Ajinca who was assigned to Sioux Falls when he played as a rookie in Charlotte. From the end of December through mid-February, Ajinca only appeared in one game for the Pelicans.
For most of the season, DeAndre Liggins seemed poised to battle in the postseason with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. After 61 games with 19 starts, Liggins got his first real extended opportunity in the NBA. However, the Cavs decided to dump the two-time NBADL Defensive Player of the Year an April 9. Dallas saw something they liked and immediately picked up Liggins to finish the season.
New Orleans also utilized the services of guard Reggie Williams for six games as an injury fill-in on two separate occasions. Williams is still at it with the Oklahoma City Blue as part of their NBADL playoff run.
The final player to mention is Jarnell Stokes who worked hard to gain the final spot on the Denver Nuggets opening day roster. A resulting stress fracture in his foot ended his NBA season about three weeks after it started.