Top 16 Skyforce Moments of 2016

By Matt Dykstra | December 31, 2016

2016: A Year in Review

2016 marked a memorable year for the Skyforce, including a historic championship run to end the 2015-16 season to hosting the 27th Christmas Day game in franchise history.  Join us as we look back at the top moments of the past year.


January 7 & 9: The Sioux Falls Skyforce won the 2016 NBA D-League Showcase title, defeating both Raptors 905 and Santa Cruz, finishing with a net rating of +13.3 in their two games played. Miami HEAT assignees Josh Richardson and Jarnell Stokes led the Skyforce in both contests, marking the 23rd time in Skyforce history that more than one NBA player has been assigned at the same time.


February 13: The Skyforce coaching staff was voted to coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team in the 2016 NBA D-League All-Star game. Four Sioux Falls players made the roster, including Tre Kelley, Keith Benson, Jarnell Stokes, and DeAndre Liggins.

April 2: The Sioux Falls Skyforce defeated the Grand Rapids Drive to earn their 40th and final win of the 2015-16 regular season, setting a new NBA Development League record for most wins in a single season.


April 14: As a historic regular season came to an end, the Skyforce earned four individual awards as Jarnell Stokes was named NBA D-League MVP, DeAndre Liggins was named Defensive Player of the Year, Head Coach Dan Craig was named NBA D-League Coach of the Year, and General Manager Adam Simon was named NBA D-League Executive of the Year.


April 26: The Skyforce Hall of Fame was started  as a way to honor players, coaches, and staff members who have made a positive and lasting impression on the Skyforce organization.  Four individuals were inducted into the Skyforce Hall of Fame on April 26, 2016 during the NBA D-League Finals.


April 27: The Skyforce ran away from the Los Angeles D-Fenders in game 3 of the NBA D-League Finals, winning 91-63 and earning their first championship as a member of the D-League (third overall).

2016 NBA DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE CHAMPS! Sioux Falls defeats LA 91-63 in game 3! #FORCENATION

A photo posted by Sioux Falls Skyforce (@sfskyforce) on


July 8: 12 former Skyforce players were signed to NBA Summer League rosters for the 2016 NBA Summer Leagues in both Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada. Of the 12, there were nine players from the 2015-16 Skyforce roster who played in this year’s Summer League games. Skyforce players played for the Miami HEAT, NBA D-League Select, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, and the New Orleans Pelicans.


September 28: 14 former Skyforce players earned NBA Training Camp Roster spots in advance of the 2016-17 season, including seven players who had appeared in uniform for Sioux Falls during the 2015-16 season.


October 9: Kasib Powell joined the Skyforce coaching staff as an assistant to Head Coach Nevada Smith. Other than Jarnell Stokes’ most recent nomination, Kasib Powell is the only other player to have won the NBA D-League MVP award (2008) since the Skyforce became members of the D-League.


October 25: 10 former Skyforce players earned a spot on an NBA Opening Day roster, including Jarnell Stokes, Rodney McGruder, and DeAndre Liggins, who all played for the 2016 D-League Championship team earlier in the year. No other D-League team had more than one player from their 2015-16 roster make an NBA roster to start the new season.

November 12: Prior to their home opener, the Skyforce held a Championship Ceremony to honor the 2016 D-League Champions, including four players who had returned on this year’s roster: Bubu Palo, Keith Benson, Jabril Trawick, and Briante Weber. During the ceremony, last year’s players were presented their championship rings, and a new banner was added to the rafters at the Sanford Pentagon.

November 17: The Miami HEAT held a ceremony honoring members of last season’s championship Skyforce team. Coach Craig, Coach De La Grana, and Rodney McGruder were presented with their rings.

December 9: The Miami HEAT visited the Cleveland Cavaliers on a night that saw Rodney McGruder and DeAndre Liggins both start for their respective teams, and matchup with one another at the shooting guard position. Prior to the game, McGruder, along with Miami HEAT assistant coaches Dan Craig and Octavio De La Grana, had the privilege of presenting Liggins with his 2016 NBA D-League Championship ring.

December 12: Keith Benson was named NBA D-League Performer of the Week for games played Monday, Dec. 5, through Sunday, Dec. 11. Benson (6-11, Oakland) led Sioux Falls to a 3-1 week, averaging 18.5 points on 57.4 percent shooting to go with 13.3 rebounds (third in the league) and a league-best 4.3 blocks. He registered a point-rebound double-double in each of his four games.


December 25: The Skyforce hosted a Christmas Day game for the 27th time in 28 seasons as a franchise. The only year they failed to host one was in 2009, when the game was postponed due to over 10 inches of snowfall in Sioux Falls. The Skyforce defeated the Northern Arizona Suns 96-94 in double overtime to earn their 13th win of the 2016-17 season. Briante Weber scored 24 points to go along with a career-high 16 rebounds and 10 assists to earn his fourth triple-double since becoming a member of the Skyforce.


December 25: The Skyforce’s victory on Christmas Day over the Northern Arizona Suns marked the 18th consecutive home victory during the regular season, the longest active home-winning streak in the D-League. The Skyforce finished with a regular season home record of 22-2 in the year 2016, and a record of 25-3 when including the playoffs.