Series: Six Degrees of #FORCENATION
Miami HEAT Edition (1)
The Miami HEAT are the NBA affiliate of the Skyforce, and five players on their current roster have donned a Skyforce uniform at one point in their career, including Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White.
Okaro White started the 2016-17 season on the Skyforce roster before being called up and signed to a multi-year contract in January, and Rodney McGruder, known to HEAT fans as “the scavenger”, was a member of the 2016 NBA D-League Championship team a year ago.
All five players have played in Sioux Falls as recently as the 2013-14 season, serving as a testament to the development players receive during their time with the Skyforce.
In addition, former head coach Dan Craig, along with former assistants Octavio De La Grana and Chris Quinn, have all moved into assistant coaching roles for the HEAT. Coach Dan Craig owns the D-League regular season record with 40 wins and just 10 losses.
McGruder attributes an easier transition to the NBA to his two former Skyforce coaches now working with him on a daily basis in Miami. “It helped me out a lot,” said McGruder. “I see those guys around every day. [Dan Craig] still says a lot, so it’s still like I’m playing for him, you know? He runs some of our pre-practice things so it still feels like I’m playing for him. It goes hand in hand because they’re two great coaches.”
Though the distance between Miami and Sioux Falls is one of the farthest between an NBA team and their affiliate, the connection between the HEAT and the Skyforce is arguably one of the strongest in the league.
In total, the HEAT have called up 10 players on 12 different occasions, and they have assigned 11 players to Sioux Falls on 23 different occasions.