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Five Takeaways from Opening Weekend

By Matt Dykstra | November 9, 2017

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 1. Torrey Craig’s defense is no joke.

Through two games this season, Torrey Craig has provided a major spark off the bench for the Skyforce. He’s averaging 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game on the offensive end of the court, but that hasn’t even been the most impressive part of his game. Through two games this season, Craig is averaging a league-leading 4.5 blocks and 3.0 steals per game. This number will find its way back to earth as the season goes on, but he’s already shown that his length and athleticism can be extremely disruptive on the defensive end of the court.

2. Erik McCree gets buckets.

The Skyforce averaged the fourth-most points per game last season in the NBA G League, and have arguably more offensive fire power this season than they did a year ago. On a team with a number of go-to scoring options, Erik McCree has shown the ability to fill up the scoring column as well as anyone in the league. It’s early. We get it, but McCree’s 22.5 points per game average appears to be sustainable, as many of his buckets come either at the rim, on open three-point jumpers, and at the free throw line. His size and length, combined with his ball handling ability have created problems for other teams on the defensive end of the floor. His 29-point performance against Memphis in Sioux Falls’ season opener was the tied for the fourth-highest opening night scoring output from a player in the franchise’s 29-season history.

3. The Skyforce are somehow playing even faster this season.

After playing at the NBA G League’s fastest pace last season, averaging 107.5 possessions per game, the Skyforce have found a way to speed up their game through the first two games of the 2017-18 season. With more offensive firepower, and quicker personnel across the board, Sioux Falls is averaging 111.9 possessions this season. In fact, eight teams so far this season have played at a faster pace than the Skyforce averaged last year. The league average will slow down as the season goes on, but Sioux Falls looks to be placing an emphasis on playing even faster than they have in the past. With players like Derrick Walton Jr. and Larry Drew II running the point, and Erik McCree and Torrey Craig running the wings, playing fast has become an important part of the Skyforce identity in year two under Head Coach Nevada Smith.

 

4. Ike Nwamu has taken a big step forward.

As mentioned first by Dan Peters with KSOO, Ike Nwamu is an early-season candidate for the NBA G League’s Most Improved Player Award. The second-year player out of UNLV appeared in 47 games (13 starts) for the Skyforce last season and averaged 9.1 points per game on 34 percent shooting from long range. This season, he’s averaged 16.0 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field and 70 percent from three-point range.

 

 

5. Larry Drew II is still among the NBA G League’s best at stuffing the stat sheet.

Larry Drew II, who has now been with Sioux Falls for parts of the last five seasons, still finds ways to impact the game without being a high-volume scorer. In the team’s first game against Memphis, he scored two points. However, he tallied 11 assists on the night, which accounted for the second-highest assist total in a season opener in the franchise’s 29-year history. Drew II promptly followed that up with a nine-rebound, eight-assist, and seven-point performance in the loss to the Lakeland Magic on Monday, November 6. His 9.5 assists per game through two games is good enough for third in the league to this point. Drew II needs just 354 assists to pass Skyforce Hall of Famer David Bailey for third on the all-time assist leader board in franchise history.

 

 

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