Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Skyforce seem to have found their stride at the right time. Now with just 20 games left in the regular season, the Force sit with a 15-15 record and in third place in the Midwest Division. However, Iowa and Oklahoma City are within striking distance with just a 2.0 game lead, and the recent additions of Briante Weber and Bubu Palo should help Sioux Falls close the gap. A flurry of transactions early in the week have left the Force up two, but down one key contributor as we enter the home stretch of the season. Let’s take a look at what has happened this week:
#0 Briante Weber
Monday, January 22: Signed as a returning player.
Briante Weber returned to the Skyforce on Monday, January 22 after spending the first few months of the season under two-way contract with the Houston Rockets. Weber returns having played 59 games (40 starts) in Sioux Falls over the course of his career. After missing the first two months of his rookie campaign during the 2015-16 season, Weber burst onto the scene while filling in for teammate Tre Kelley, who jumped over seas after the NBA G League Showcase.
Weber boasts career averages of 13.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists in a Skyforce uniform, and holds the franchise record for most career triple-doubles with six, including five in just 31 games during the 2016-17 season. He was named an NBA G League All-Star, and Second Team All-NBA G League a season ago before seeing his G League season cut short by consecutive call-ups from the Golden State Warriors and the Charlotte Hornets, where he finished out the NBA Season. Weber is a highlight reel waiting to happen, and it’s only a matter of time before he finds his place at the next level. After earning multiple 10-day contracts in each of his first two seasons with Sioux Falls, he may only be with us for a short period of time, but we’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
#3 Larry Drew II
Tuesday, January 23: Signed a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Larry Drew II is becoming one of the most recognizable names in Skyforce franchise history. Now in part of his fifth season with the Skyforce, he continues to inch his way up numerous franchise record boards, and is one of the best passers the city of Sioux Falls has ever seen.
Drew II was recently called up by the Philadelphia 76ers, marking the second NBA Call-Up of his career (both by Philadelphia). During his first stint with the Sixers amidst the 2014-15 season, Drew II appeared in 12 NBA games (one start) and averaged 3.8 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game. Drew II scored six points and added nine assists in just his second game with the Sixers that season, and added a career-high nine points and four assists in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 24, 2015.
Congrats to Larry Drew II on signing a 10-day contract with the @sixers!
— Sioux Falls Skyforce (@SFSkyforce) January 23, 2018
In total, Drew II has appeared in 122 games (97 starts) for the Skyforce, good enough for the eighth-most games played in Skyforce franchise history. He holds both the franchise and NBA G League record for most assists in a game, dishing out 23 assists on Christmas Day in 2014, and sits in fourth place all-time with 946 career assists.
Drew II becomes the second Sioux Falls player this season to earn an NBA contract, and the first to sign a 10-day contract after former Skyforce forward Erik McCree signed a two-way contract with the Utah Jazz earlier in the season. Drew II was well on his way to becoming the fourth player in franchise history to hit the 1,000-assist barrier, and will now look to make an impact on a Sixers team he’s quite familiar with.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 23, 2018
#8 Bubu Palo
Wednesday, January 24: Signed as a returning player.
Bubu Palo is the second addition from the 2015-16 NBA G League Championship team re-acquired by the Skyforce this week. He’s well-acquainted with newly reunited teammate Briante Weber, as the two have combined to make up a lethal backcourt duo over the last two seasons.
Palo has appeared in 101 games for the Skyforce over the last three seasons, starting in 59 of them. Palo averages 11.6 points, 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game while playing for Sioux Falls, and started all seven 2016 playoff games, helping the Force to their first league championship since joining the NBA G League and their third overall.
Palo has made a living getting to the free throw line over the course of his career, ranking eight in franchise history with 458 career free throws made. He’s a good facilitator, and makes game-changing plays on a regular basis, but can fill up the scoring column when called upon. Palo scored a career-high 34 points at home against the Canton Charge on March 19, 2016 for a team that also featured the likes of Jarnell Stokes, Rodney McGruder, DeAndre Liggins and Keith Benson. Palo will look to provide leadership and experience to an otherwise fairly young Skyforce team as they make a push for the playoffs down the stretch.