Quantcast

Bout Ta’ Bubble: 13 Skyforce Alumni Look to Make Waves in Orlando

By Matt Dykstra | July 28, 2020

There has never been a Skyforce player who has gone on to win an NBA Championship. Former NBA champions have come to Sioux Falls as veterans, clinging to a playing career they’re not yet ready to let go of, but no player has ever spent time developing with the Skyforce early in his career before moving on and achieving one of the sports’ highest honors.

Several Skyforce alumni have the chance to do that this year.

In total, 13 former Sioux Falls players have earned roster spots on seven different teams that will be entering “the bubble” down in Orlando when NBA play resumes. Some more cemented in their roles than others, but all have a chance to make a splash in what will most assuredly be an “anything could happen” scenario. The Miami HEAT carry a total of six players who have previously spent time with the Force, the most of any team for obvious reasons. The HEAT are joined by the Brooklyn Nets (2), Los Angeles Clippers (1), Denver Nuggets (1), Philadelphia 76ers (1), Orlando Magic (1) and Portland Trail Blazers (1) in carrying at least one Sioux Falls alumni on its roster.

Highlights from each of these players, along with information on where and when to watch them in action when the NBA resumes play is broken down below.

* * * * *

Rodney McGruder: Los Angeles Clippers

Overview: Rodney McGruder played his way onto the Miami HEAT’s roster during training camp in 2016 and made himself an indispensable part of the team’s rotation throughout the remainder of the season. However, his role gradually declined following injuries and roster movement over the next two years. After being waived by the HEAT on April 7, 2019, the Los Angeles Clippers quickly snatched him off the waiver wire and followed by signing him to a multi-year contract last offseason.

There is no question what McGruder brings to the table for an organization. His work ethic is second-to-none. While in Miami, he earned the nickname “The Scavenger” and the name speaks for itself. McGruder has scratched and clawed his way to success simply by working harder than those around him, and now finds himself in a rotation alongside the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and company as the Clippers have a real shot at stealing the title this season.

Skyforce History: Sioux Falls claimed McGruder from the Available Player Pool on March 27, 2015. Between then and the start of next season, McGruder worked his way into a starting role for the Skyforce and his talents were put on full display under Head Coach Dan Craig during the 2015-16 season.

McGruder served as one of the most vital pieces to a team that set an NBA G League single-season record with 40 wins, and eventually delivered Sioux Falls its first championship since becoming members of the G League in 2007. The following offseason, McGruder earned an invitation to Miami for training camp, and proved too good to let go.

 

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2016-17 MIA 78 65 25.2 2.44 5.90 .413 0.94 2.82 .332 0.56 0.91 .620 1.21 2.08 3.28 1.59 0.59 0.23 1.79 0.72 6.37
2017-18 MIA 18 2 16.6 2.00 4.06 .493 0.83 1.94 .429 0.22 0.44 .500 0.61 1.17 1.78 0.94 0.44 0.17 1.17 0.22 5.06
2018-19 MIA 66 45 23.5 2.82 6.98 .403 1.20 3.41 .351 0.79 1.09 .722 0.91 2.70 3.61 1.70 0.55 0.18 1.74 0.97 7.62
2019-20 LAC 50 3 15.0 1.22 3.12 .391 0.44 1.58 .278 0.30 0.56 .536 0.52 2.04 2.56 0.60 0.46 0.16 1.34 0.42 3.18
CAREER   212 115 21.5 2.23 5.42 .411 0.89 2.64 .338 0.54 0.84 .642 0.90 2.18 3.08 1.33 0.53 0.19 1.62 0.68 5.90

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2014-15 * All Teams 29 7 23.1 3.83 8.14 .470 0.79 2.31 .343 0.90 1.52 .591 1.31 2.62 3.93 1.41 0.52 0.10 1.79 1.24 9.34
2014-15 * MNE 26 7 22.9 3.92 8.42 .466 0.77 2.31 .333 0.96 1.65 .581 1.31 2.65 3.96 1.35 0.54 0.12 1.77 1.23 9.58
2014-15 * SXF 3 0 24.8 3.00 5.67 .529 1.00 2.33 .429 0.33 0.33 1.000 1.33 2.33 3.67 2.00 0.33 0.00 2.00 1.33 7.33
2015-16 SXF 48 44 37.5 6.04 11.77 .513 1.94 5.04 .384 1.77 2.40 .739 2.17 3.15 5.31 2.33 1.38 0.27 2.15 1.33 15.79
2017-18 SXF 2 2 22.5 6.50 15.00 .433 0.50 5.50 .091 0.00 0.50 .000 1.50 3.50 5.00 1.00 0.50 0.00 0.50 0.00 13.50
CAREER   79 53 31.8 5.24 10.52 .498 1.48 4.05 .366 1.41 2.03 .694 1.84 2.96 4.80 1.96 1.04 0.20 1.97 1.27 13.37

 

 

* * * * *

Torrey Craig: Denver Nuggets

Overview: Torrey Craig was relatively unknown coming out of USC Upstate, and multiple years professionally in New Zealand and Australia before bursting onto the NBA scene during NBA Summer League in 2017. He was signed to a two-way contract by the Denver Nuggets and split time between Denver and the Sioux Falls Skyforce during his rookie campaign, but it quickly became evident that Craig belonged at the sports’ highest level.

Even as a two-way player, Craig became an important defensive role player for the Nuggets and has grown into that role substantially in the two years since. He has proven to be fearless, highlighted by his suffering of a broken nose and returning to play in the same game during last year’s NBA playoff run. He has become a more consistent shooter when called upon in recent years, but his impact on the game is often not accurately depicted by the “numbers” he puts up.

Skyforce History: Craig, joining Sioux Falls as an affiliate player during the 2017-18 season, was immediately recognized as the best player on a roster that was filled with talent. This was highlighted by a near-five-by-five game in his Skyforce debut against the Memphis Hustle. In 36 minutes off the bench, Craig posted 24 points, six rebounds, six assists, five steals and four blocks. Some referred to him as the “G League’s Lebron James” during his short 15-game stint in the league.

He was not only a dynamic scorer, but a lockdown defender and someone who could lead an offense. He was in a league of his own from the jump. It was only a matter of time before his future in the NBA was solidified.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2017-18 DEN 39 5 16.1 1.59 3.51 .453 0.44 1.49 .293 0.56 0.90 .629 1.03 2.23 3.26 0.64 0.31 0.38 1.62 0.51 4.18
2018-19 DEN 75 37 20.0 2.13 4.83 .442 0.81 2.51 .324 0.65 0.93 .700 1.19 2.32 3.51 0.96 0.49 0.61 2.33 0.59 5.73
2019-20 DEN 50 19 17.4 1.92 4.16 .462 0.72 2.18 .330 0.40 0.62 .645 0.96 2.16 3.12 0.68 0.36 0.64 2.24 0.44 4.96
CAREER   164 61 18.3 1.94 4.31 .450 0.70 2.16 .321 0.55 0.83 .669 1.08 2.25 3.33 0.80 0.41 0.57 2.13 0.52 5.13

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2017-18 SXF 15 12 35.0 8.20 17.20 .477 2.60 6.73 .386 3.93 5.00 .787 2.67 5.47 8.13 3.47 1.13 2.00 2.60 2.60 22.93
CAREER   15 12 35.0 8.20 17.20 .477 2.60 6.73 .386 3.93 5.00 .787 2.67 5.47 8.13 3.47 1.13 2.00 2.60 2.60 22.93

 

 

* * * * *

Duncan Robinson: Miami HEAT

Overview: To say that Duncan Robinson’s rise was “meteoric” might actually be an understatement. A two-way player for the Miami HEAT just a season ago, he’s now become one of the NBA’s most lethal three-point shooters in just his second season. Robinson’s 243 three-pointers made this season rank third in the NBA, trailing only James Harden (271) and Buddy Hield (244). However, Robinson’s shooting at a 44.8 percent clip from long distance this season, nearly a 10-percent increase on Harden’s 35.2 percent mark from three-point range this season.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not comparing Robinson to Harden…but the sharpshooter has proven to be dangerous from the perimeter at every level he’s played in his career, and that continues to translate in the NBA. As other facets of his overall game improve, Robinson looks to be one of the many promising young talents in the HEAT’s rotation for years to come.

Skyforce History: Robinson appeared in 33 games as a Miami HEAT two-way player for the Sioux Falls Skyforce last season and all he did was set multiple franchise records on his way out the door. His 157 made three-pointers (remember, in just 33 games) marked a Skyforce franchise single-season record while his 48.3 percent mark from three-point range is both a Skyforce franchise and NBA G League record for a single-season.

Robinson was simply “unreal” during his time with Sioux Falls. Shots just kept falling…and falling. He’s proceeded to do something very similar for the HEAT this season and he’s become a key member of Miami’s starting lineup.

Robinson and fellow alumni Derrick Jones Jr. gave the Skyforce franchise its first taste at NBA All-Star weekend when both participated in skills competitions. Robinson was selected to participate in the NBA All-Star Three-Point shootout and Derrick Jones Jr. was selected to participate in (and ultimately win) the NBA Slam Dunk contest.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2018-19 MIA 15 1 10.7 1.20 3.07 .391 0.67 2.33 .286 0.27 0.40 .667 0.13 1.13 1.27 0.33 0.33 0.00 0.73 0.27 3.33
2019-20 MIA 65 60 30.0 4.40 9.43 .467 3.74 8.35 .448 0.74 0.82 .906 0.14 3.12 3.26 1.40 0.54 0.23 2.75 0.92 13.28
CAREER   80 61 26.4 3.80 8.24 .461 3.16 7.22 .438 0.65 0.74 .881 0.14 2.75 2.89 1.20 0.50 0.19 2.38 0.80 11.41

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2018-19 SXF 33 33 36.9 7.39 14.39 .514 4.76 9.85 .483 1.85 2.30 .803 0.45 3.88 4.33 3.00 0.97 0.18 2.70 1.67 21.39
CAREER   33 33 36.9 7.39 14.39 .514 4.76 9.85 .483 1.85 2.30 .803 0.45 3.88 4.33 3.00 0.97 0.18 2.70 1.67 21.39

 

 

* * * * *

Josh Richardson: Philadelphia 76ers

Overview: Josh Richardson was drafted by the Miami HEAT in the 2nd round of the 2015 NBA Draft and spent the first four years of his career with the HEAT organization. His role increased with each season, resulting in Richardson starting his last 152 games over the course of his final two seasons in Miami. Last season, Richardson put up career-best numbers averaging 16.6 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game and became one of the league’s hottest young commodities.

Over the summer, Richardson was ultimately sent to Philadelphia in the blockbuster sign-and-trade that brought Jimmy Butler to Miami. Though Philly’s lineup hasn’t quite achieved its full potential yet, Richardson picked up right where he left off last season and is averaging 13.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest with his new club.

Skyforce History: As a rookie during the 2015-16 season, Richardson was assigned to the Sioux Falls Skyforce and appeared in four games under then-Head Coach Dan Craig. Though his stint with the Skyforce was short, it accomplished its goal in allowing the HEAT to see what he could do in extended minutes. Two of Richardson’s four games with the Force came during the 2015-16 NBA G League Showcase, where he helped lead Sioux Falls to a 2-0 record and a Showcase victory.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2015-16 MIA 52 2 21.3 2.37 5.23 .452 1.02 2.21 .461 0.81 1.21 .667 0.40 1.65 2.06 1.40 0.69 0.48 2.06 0.67 6.56
2016-17 MIA 53 34 30.5 3.81 9.68 .394 1.42 4.28 .330 1.13 1.45 .779 0.66 2.51 3.17 2.64 1.13 0.74 2.49 1.23 10.17
2017-18 MIA 81 81 33.2 4.93 10.93 .451 1.57 4.15 .378 1.48 1.75 .845 0.85 2.67 3.52 2.85 1.49 0.93 2.46 1.73 12.90
2018-19 MIA 73 73 34.8 5.79 14.05 .412 2.25 6.30 .357 2.73 3.16 .861 0.74 2.86 3.60 4.08 1.08 0.47 2.74 1.55 16.56
2019-20 PHL 48 46 30.7 5.12 11.96 .429 1.46 4.46 .327 2.10 2.67 .789 0.77 2.60 3.38 3.08 0.94 0.71 2.50 1.90 13.81
CAREER   307 236 30.7 4.54 10.65 .426 1.59 4.40 .362 1.70 2.09 .814 0.70 2.50 3.21 2.90 1.11 0.67 2.47 1.45 12.37

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2015-16 SXF 4 4 38.2 8.75 18.50 .473 2.75 7.00 .393 3.00 4.25 .706 1.50 3.00 4.50 3.75 2.50 1.25 2.75 2.00 23.25
CAREER   4 4 38.2 8.75 18.50 .473 2.75 7.00 .393 3.00 4.25 .706 1.50 3.00 4.50 3.75 2.50 1.25 2.75 2.00 23.25

 

 

* * * * *

Derrick Jones Jr.: Miami HEAT

Overview: Derrick Jones Jr. went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft, but before the 2016-17 season began, he signed a multi-year contract with the Phoenix Suns. He floated between the NBA and NBA G League throughout his rookie season, appearing in 32 NBA games and 19 G League games over the course of the year.

Jones Jr. saw even less NBA time in his second season with the Suns, and eventually Phoenix waived him on December 7, 2017. Not long after, the Miami HEAT swooped in and signed Jones Jr. to a two-way contract for the remainder of the season, and after signing a multi-year contract with the club the following offseason has been working his way into a more consistent role ever since.

This season has been his best to-date, appearing in 51 games (15 starts) and averaging career-highs of 8.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 24.5 minutes per contest. Jones Jr. has a flare for the dramatic, making eight points feel more like twenty with his high-flying acrobatics. This season has been highlighted by his winning of the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He had participated in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on one other occasion in 2017.

Skyforce History: Jones Jr. appeared in 13 games (11 starts) for the Sioux Falls Skyforce after being signed to a two-way contract by the Miami HEAT. While with Sioux Falls, Jones Jr. put his versatility on full display, seeing a bump in production across the board. In total, he averaged career-best marks of 19.9 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2016-17 PHX 32 8 17.0 2.12 3.78 .562 0.09 0.34 .273 0.91 1.28 .707 1.22 1.25 2.47 0.38 0.44 0.41 1.97 0.41 5.25
2017-18 * All Teams 20 8 12.3 1.05 2.65 .396 0.15 0.90 .167 0.80 1.20 .667 1.05 0.85 1.90 0.45 0.20 0.65 1.20 0.35 3.05
2017-18 * MIA 14 8 15.2 1.36 3.50 .388 0.21 1.14 .188 0.79 1.29 .611 1.36 1.07 2.43 0.43 0.21 0.64 1.57 0.43 3.71
2017-18 * PHX 6 0 5.5 0.33 0.67 .500 0.00 0.33 .000 0.83 1.00 .833 0.33 0.33 0.67 0.50 0.17 0.67 0.33 0.17 1.50
2018-19 MIA 60 14 19.2 2.67 5.40 .494 0.47 1.52 .308 1.23 2.03 .607 1.60 2.40 4.00 0.62 0.77 0.70 2.05 0.72 7.03
2019-20 MIA 51 15 24.5 3.25 6.33 .514 0.67 2.47 .270 1.73 2.22 .779 1.12 3.06 4.18 1.12 1.06 0.71 2.24 0.53 8.90
CAREER   163 45 19.6 2.55 5.04 .505 0.42 1.51 .276 1.27 1.84 .690 1.31 2.19 3.50 0.71 0.72 0.64 1.99 0.55 6.78

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2016-17 NAS 19 17 32.0 5.37 10.74 .500 0.63 2.47 .255 3.05 5.00 .611 2.05 3.53 5.58 1.00 1.21 1.42 3.53 1.47 14.42
2017-18 * All Teams 29 22 29.0 6.34 12.76 .497 1.59 4.69 .338 3.17 4.62 .687 1.59 5.86 7.45 1.86 1.28 1.76 2.59 1.59 17.45
2017-18 * NAS 16 11 29.0 6.00 12.38 .485 1.25 3.94 .317 2.19 3.69 .593 1.88 5.31 7.19 1.81 1.12 1.81 3.00 1.81 15.44
2017-18 * SXF 13 11 29.1 6.77 13.23 .512 2.00 5.62 .356 4.38 5.77 .760 1.23 6.54 7.77 1.92 1.46 1.69 2.08 1.31 19.92
CAREER   48 39 30.2 5.96 11.96 .498 1.21 3.81 .317 3.12 4.77 .655 1.77 4.94 6.71 1.52 1.25 1.62 2.96 1.54 16.25

 

 

* * * * *

Hassan Whiteside: Portland Trail Blazers

Overview: Hassan Whiteside has had a rollercoaster of an NBA career. It began when he was selected in the 2nd round of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings and was later signed to a multi-year contract before his rookie season began.

He spent most of his first two seasons playing in the NBA G League on assignment for the Reno Bighorns before the Kings ultimately waived him on July 14, 2012. Whiteside then jumped around the G League during the 2012-13 season before falling out of basketball completely.

Thus began one of the best comebacks the NBA has ever seen. Whiteside reshaped his body during his time away from the game, and the Memphis Grizzlies noticed. The Grizz swept him up, and Whiteside appeared in just three games for Memphis’ then-affiliate the Iowa Energy before the Miami HEAT acted. The HEAT signed Whiteside to a multi-year deal on November 24, 2014 and he’s taken full advantage of his second chance.

In July of 2016 Whiteside became the first player in NBA history to transition from making the league’s minimum salary to signing a max offer. The HEAT signed Whiteside to a four-year, $98M deal during the 2016 free agency frenzy, a deal he is now in his final season of after being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers last summer.

Skyforce History: Whiteside’s Skyforce connection is two separate tales. His initial stint with the Skyforce came after he had fallen out of the NBA during the 2012-13 season, where he appeared in seven games (three starts) for Sioux Falls before being quickly traded to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

He later returned to the Skyforce for a one-game assignment shortly after being acquired by the HEAT in 2014. He posted 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks on 10-11 FG before being recalled the next day, and he has stuck in the NBA ever since.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2010-11 SAC 1 0 1.8 0.00 0.00 .000 0.00 0.00 .000 0.00 0.00 .000 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.00 0.00 0.00
2011-12 SAC 18 0 6.0 0.67 1.50 .444 0.00 0.00 .000 0.28 0.67 .417 0.89 1.28 2.17 0.00 0.17 0.83 0.67 0.28 1.61
2014-15 MIA 48 32 23.8 5.06 8.06 .628 0.00 0.00 .000 1.62 3.25 .500 3.02 7.02 10.04 0.12 0.56 2.56 2.69 1.21 11.75
2015-16 MIA 73 43 29.1 5.66 9.34 .606 0.00 0.00 .000 2.93 4.51 .650 3.26 8.59 11.85 0.41 0.60 3.68 2.75 1.88 14.25
2016-17 MIA 77 77 32.6 7.04 12.64 .557 0.00 0.00 .000 2.92 4.65 .628 3.81 10.32 14.13 0.74 0.73 2.09 2.94 2.00 17.00
2017-18 MIA 54 54 25.3 5.78 10.70 .540 0.04 0.04 1.000 2.37 3.37 .703 3.22 8.22 11.44 1.00 0.70 1.74 2.43 1.70 13.96
2018-19 MIA 72 53 23.3 5.39 9.44 .571 0.03 0.22 .125 1.51 3.38 .449 3.57 7.78 11.35 0.78 0.64 1.89 2.67 1.35 12.32
2019-20 POR 61 61 31.3 6.85 11.08 .618 0.07 0.11 .571 2.51 3.69 .680 4.00 10.25 14.25 1.21 0.39 3.07 2.93 1.92 16.28
CAREER   404 320 26.8 5.76 9.91 .582 0.02 0.06 .320 2.26 3.73 .606 3.38 8.44 11.83 0.69 0.59 2.44 2.65 1.63 13.80

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2010-11 RNO 14 3 10.5 1.93 3.79 .509 0.00 0.00 .000 0.50 1.21 .412 1.07 1.64 2.71 0.07 0.21 2.14 1.57 0.93 4.36
2011-12 RNO 11 5 18.9 3.36 6.45 .521 0.00 0.00 .000 1.09 3.18 .343 2.82 3.64 6.45 0.36 0.55 2.91 2.64 1.45 7.82
2012-13 * All Teams 36 3 11.8 2.56 4.50 .568 0.00 0.03 .000 1.44 2.17 .667 1.86 3.44 5.31 0.19 0.39 1.92 1.36 0.94 6.56
2012-13 * RGV 29 0 10.6 2.21 4.14 .533 0.00 0.03 .000 1.24 1.83 .679 1.69 3.03 4.72 0.17 0.31 2.03 1.24 0.83 5.66
2012-13 * SXF 7 3 16.4 4.00 6.00 .667 0.00 0.00 .000 2.29 3.57 .640 2.57 5.14 7.71 0.29 0.71 1.43 1.86 1.43 10.29
2014-15 * All Teams 4 4 28.0 10.00 11.50 .870 0.00 0.00 .000 1.75 2.75 .636 3.75 11.00 14.75 0.75 0.50 5.00 3.25 2.75 21.75
2014-15 * IWA 3 3 28.7 10.00 11.67 .857 0.00 0.00 .000 2.00 3.00 .667 4.33 11.33 15.67 0.33 0.67 5.33 4.33 2.33 22.00
2014-15 * SXF 1 1 26.0 10.00 11.00 .909 0.00 0.00 .000 1.00 2.00 .500 2.00 10.00 12.00 2.00 0.00 4.00 0.00 4.00 21.00
CAREER   65 15 13.7 3.02 5.11 .590 0.00 0.02 .000 1.20 2.17 .553 1.97 3.55 5.52 0.23 0.38 2.32 1.74 1.14 7.23

 

 

* * * * *

Khem Birch: Orlando Magic

Background: Birch was picked up by the Miami HEAT after going undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft. After joining the HEAT for training camp, he was allocated to the Sioux Falls Skyforce as an affiliate player, where he would spend his rookie campaign.

Birch decided to cut ties with the G League the following season and test the market overseas. From 2015 to 2017 Birch played for both Usak Sportlif in the Turkish Basketball League and Olympiacos in the HEBA 1A and Euroleague.

An opportunity to join the Orlando Magic for training camp in 2017 brought Birch back to the United States, where he played his way on to the Magic’s opening day roster. In his first season with Orlando, he split time playing on assignment for the Lakeland Magic where he was named to the All-NBA G League Midseason Eastern Conference Team. For each of the past two seasons, he’s played exclusively for the NBA club, carving out an important reserve role for himself.

Skyforce History: Birch had a stellar rookie campaign during the 2014-15 season while playing for the Skyforce. He appeared in all but one regular season game (49) and averaged 11.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in just 26.4 minutes per contest.

His performance earned him NBA G League All-Rookie First Team and All-Defensive First Team honors, and his 70.3 percent field goal percentage that season stood as a single-season franchise record until he was surpassed by Marcus Lee (73.8 percent) during the 2019-20 season.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2017-18 ORL 42 0 13.8 1.62 3.00 .540 0.00 0.00 .000 1.00 1.45 .689 1.67 2.62 4.29 0.81 0.36 0.50 1.33 0.50 4.24
2018-19 ORL 50 1 12.9 1.82 3.02 .603 0.00 0.02 .000 1.16 1.66 .699 1.58 2.22 3.80 0.76 0.36 0.58 1.44 0.40 4.80
2019-20 ORL 40 24 19.4 1.40 2.88 .487 0.00 0.03 .000 1.02 1.68 .612 1.75 2.75 4.50 0.88 0.40 0.53 1.82 0.57 3.83
CAREER   132 25 15.1 1.63 2.97 .548 0.00 0.02 .000 1.07 1.60 .668 1.66 2.51 4.17 0.81 0.37 0.54 1.52 0.48 4.33

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2014-15 SXF 49 33 26.4 4.45 6.35 .701 0.00 0.02 .000 2.33 3.47 .671 3.45 6.10 9.55 1.24 0.63 1.76 2.22 1.24 11.22
2017-18 LAK 21 20 31.9 5.57 9.24 .603 0.00 0.00 .000 2.81 3.57 .787 3.38 6.29 9.67 2.48 1.19 2.57 2.76 2.19 13.95
CAREER   70 53 28.0 4.79 7.21 .663 0.00 0.01 .000 2.47 3.50 .706 3.43 6.16 9.59 1.61 0.80 2.00 2.39 1.53 12.04

 

 

* * * * *

Tyler Johnson: Brooklyn Nets

Overview: Tyler Johnson went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft and began his professional career as an affiliate player with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. While with the Skyforce, he appeared in 15 games (15 starts) and averaged 18.5 points per game before earning two separate NBA Call-Ups to the Miami HEAT. Following his second 10-day contract with the club, the HEAT signed Johnson to a multi-year deal.

Johnson spent nearly the first five years of his career with the HEAT, including earning a four-year, $50M contract after the HEAT matched Brooklyn’s offer sheet during the summer of 2016. Johnson later was traded to the Phoenix Suns along with teammate Wayne Ellington in exchange for Ryan Anderson in a salary swap.

Johnson stayed with the Suns until being waived on February 10, 2020. Most recently, Johnson signed with the Brooklyn Nets on June 24, 2020, in advance of play resuming in Orlando. Johnson may have a chance to play meaningful minutes for a Nets team that finds itself extremely short-handed heading to Orlando.

Skyforce History: Johnson was stellar in his 15 games with the Skyforce. He stuffed the stat sheet with 18.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists before earning multiple 10-day contracts and eventually a multi-year deal with the Miami HEAT. A true NBA G League alumni, Johnson, along with Hassan Whiteside, signed one of the most lucrative contracts of any former Skyforce players.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2014-15 MIA 32 2 18.8 2.19 5.22 .419 0.56 1.50 .375 1.00 1.47 .681 0.44 2.09 2.53 1.31 1.03 0.28 1.31 0.94 5.94
2015-16 MIA 36 5 24.0 3.28 6.72 .488 0.75 1.97 .380 1.42 1.78 .797 0.78 2.25 3.03 2.19 0.67 0.39 1.83 1.31 8.72
2016-17 MIA 73 0 29.8 4.89 11.29 .433 1.27 3.42 .372 2.67 3.48 .768 0.68 3.33 4.01 3.19 1.15 0.60 2.41 1.23 13.73
2017-18 MIA 72 39 28.5 4.29 9.88 .435 1.65 4.50 .367 1.47 1.79 .822 0.47 2.97 3.44 2.29 0.83 0.47 2.06 1.12 11.71
2018-19 * All Teams 57 22 26.8 3.81 9.23 .413 1.58 4.56 .346 1.67 2.23 .748 0.60 2.44 3.04 2.91 0.95 0.47 1.70 1.35 10.86
2018-19 * MIA 44 10 25.5 3.89 9.11 .426 1.64 4.64 .353 1.39 2.00 .693 0.43 2.32 2.75 2.55 0.91 0.48 1.64 1.43 10.80
2018-19 * PHX 13 12 31.2 3.54 9.62 .368 1.38 4.31 .321 2.62 3.00 .872 1.15 2.85 4.00 4.15 1.08 0.46 1.92 1.08 11.08
2019-20 PHX 31 3 16.6 2.10 5.52 .380 0.77 2.68 .289 0.77 1.03 .750 0.32 1.35 1.68 1.61 0.39 0.26 1.39 0.77 5.74
CAREER   301 71 25.7 3.77 8.77 .430 1.23 3.44 .358 1.67 2.17 .770 0.56 2.61 3.18 2.44 0.89 0.45 1.90 1.16 10.45

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2014-15 SXF 15 15 34.5 6.60 13.47 .490 1.33 3.13 .426 3.93 4.87 .808 1.33 3.00 4.33 4.27 0.93 0.40 2.47 1.73 18.47
CAREER   15 15 34.5 6.60 13.47 .490 1.33 3.13 .426 3.93 4.87 .808 1.33 3.00 4.33 4.27 0.93 0.40 2.47 1.73 18.47

 

 

* * * * *

Chris Silva: Miami HEAT

Overview: Chris Silva plays going 100 mph at all times. Hustle plays, loose balls, chase-down blocks, you name it…Chris Silva does it. The rookie out of South Carolina originally signed a two-way contract with the Miami HEAT on July 11, 2019 but proved to be a valuable piece of the HEAT’s early-season rotation. The HEAT never sent him to Sioux Falls, but rather used up all his NBA days as part of his two-way deal before converting Silva to a standard NBA contract.

He’s appeared in 41 games for the HEAT this season, and though he’s averaged just 7.5 minutes per game, Silva usually does something exciting in the minutes he’s been given. His role is to bring energy off the bench, and if nothing else, he does that extremely well. Chris Silva IS energy.

Silva has an incredible story. After leaving his home country of at the age of 15 to pursue his dream of playing basketball in America, Silva has rarely gotten the chance to see his family. During the holiday season this year, the Miami HEAT and NBA partnered to reunite Silva with his mom for the first time in three years.

Skyforce History: Though he never appeared in a game for Sioux Falls while under his two-way contract, Silva was assigned to the Skyforce for a two-game homestand shortly after he was converted to a standard deal. Silva likely would have appeared in at least a few more games with Sioux Falls had the NBA G League season not been cut short, simply to get more minutes and stay fresh.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 MIA 41 0 7.5 1.05 1.68 .623 0.00 0.05 .000 0.83 1.20 .694 1.32 1.34 2.66 0.51 0.22 0.44 1.95 0.76 2.93
CAREER   41 0 7.5 1.05 1.68 .623 0.00 0.05 .000 0.83 1.20 .694 1.32 1.34 2.66 0.51 0.22 0.44 1.95 0.76 2.93

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 SXF 2 0 17.9 5.00 6.00 .833 0.00 0.00 .000 1.00 2.00 .500 1.00 4.00 5.00 2.00 0.50 2.50 5.50 3.00 11.50
CAREER   2 0 17.9 5.00 6.00 .833 0.00 0.00 .000 1.00 2.00 .500 1.00 4.00 5.00 2.00 0.50 2.50 5.50 3.00 11.50

 

 

* * * * *

Gabe Vincent: Miami HEAT

Overview: After going undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, Gabe Vincent got a shot with the Sacramento Kings NBA G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings. Fresh out of UC Santa Barbara and originally from Stockton, the hometown kid was getting a shot at professional basketball. However, it quickly became more than that.

Vincent never stopped working, and burst onto the scene as one of the G League’s best scorers in his second year as a professional this season. The Miami HEAT, among other teams, took notice. The HEAT were able to steal Vincent and signed him as a two-way player on January 8, 2020. He has lived up to the hype ever since.

“His game is going to go to another level,” said Adam Simon, HEAT Vice President of Basketball Operations. “How it’ll translate and how he’ll be able to make it on the HEAT, that’s to be determined. But I think everything that we had hoped for, when we two-wayed him during the season, I think we’re very pleased.”

Skyforce History: Vincent appeared in 11 games for Sioux Falls while under two-way contract this season, and the Skyforce went 9-2 over that span. His consistency and his ability to impact winning helped Sioux Falls and Head Coach Eric Glass turn a much-needed corner before the G League season was ultimately shut down.

“It’s incredibly difficult to make the jump that Gabe made this season, but it’s even more remarkable that he did it for two different teams,” said Skyforce Head Coach Eric Glass. “He joined us mid-season and fit in seamlessly with our group. He was able to impact winning immediately and his strong character and leadership helped to elevate our locker room. As an organization, we are extremely proud of Gabe and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to coach him.”

Vincent’s efforts not only earned him the first NBA Call-Up of his career, but resulted in him being named as the NBA G League’s Most Improved Player for the 2019-20 season.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 MIA 6 0 6.9 0.67 3.17 .211 0.67 2.67 .250 0.00 0.00 .000 0.00 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.17 0.00 0.33 0.00 2.00
CAREER   6 0 6.9 0.67 3.17 .211 0.67 2.67 .250 0.00 0.00 .000 0.00 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.17 0.00 0.33 0.00 2.00

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2018-19 STO 24 3 18.6 3.29 8.71 .378 1.25 4.29 .291 0.92 1.29 .710 0.54 1.75 2.29 2.58 0.83 0.42 2.29 1.17 8.75
2019-20 * All Teams 31 3 29.3 7.26 16.13 .450 4.16 10.26 .406 1.55 1.68 .923 0.71 2.42 3.13 2.10 1.16 0.23 3.16 1.55 21.06
2019-20 * STO 20 3 31.8 8.35 17.60 .474 4.40 10.40 .423 1.80 2.00 .900 0.70 3.20 3.90 2.20 1.25 0.25 3.50 1.85 23.65
2019-20 * SXF 11 0 24.8 5.27 13.45 .392 3.73 10.00 .373 1.09 1.09 1.000 0.73 1.00 1.73 1.91 1.00 0.18 2.55 1.00 16.36
CAREER   55 6 24.6 5.53 12.89 .429 2.89 7.65 .378 1.27 1.51 .843 0.64 2.13 2.76 2.31 1.02 0.31 2.78 1.38 15.69

 

 

* * * * *

KZ Okpala: Miami HEAT

Overview: The Project. The Kid. Baby Giannis. Miami HEAT rookie KZ Okpala has been called many things since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2019 NBA Draft. The wiry forward has a lot of raw talent, but the HEAT drafted him knowing it may take him a season or two to build a little strength onto his slim frame and to develop some of his skills.

Okpala is nothing if not versatile. At 6-8, he handles the ball like a guard and thrives at getting to the basket. He’s come a long way in just his first season as a professional and HEAT fans have been excited about his development in the G League.

Skyforce History: Okpala played a total of 20 games on assignment in Sioux Falls this season, and was making strides as the G League was ultimately shut down for the year. In total, he averaged 11.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

However, during the month of February Okpala was averaging 13.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and had an offensive rating of 105.3 opposed to a defensive rating of 92.3 for a net rating of 13.0. As Okpala got more comfortable finishing around the rim, the rest of his game slowly fell into place for him this season and the Skyforce benefited greatly from it.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 MIA 5 0 5.2 0.60 1.00 .600 0.00 0.20 .000 0.20 0.40 .500 0.20 0.80 1.00 0.20 0.40 0.20 0.40 0.20 1.40
CAREER   5 0 5.2 0.60 1.00 .600 0.00 0.20 .000 0.20 0.40 .500 0.20 0.80 1.00 0.20 0.40 0.20 0.40 0.20 1.40

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 SXF 20 20 28.6 3.75 10.20 .368 0.55 1.95 .282 2.00 3.15 .635 1.85 5.30 7.15 2.05 1.30 1.10 3.50 2.50 11.65
CAREER   20 20 28.6 3.75 10.20 .368 0.55 1.95 .282 2.00 3.15 .635 1.85 5.30 7.15 2.05 1.30 1.10 3.50 2.50 11.65

 

 

* * * * *

Jeremiah Martin: Brooklyn Nets

Overview: Jeremiah Martin began this season as an affiliate player with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and quickly became a lethal scoring option off the bench early in the season. It didn’t take long for teams to notice, and the Brooklyn Nets were ultimately the team that plucked him from the G League ranks. Martin signed a two-way contract with the Nets on January 15, 2020 and has since split time between the Nets and their G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

He’s appeared in just three games for Brooklyn, but was posting solid numbers for Long Island before the G League was shut down for the remainder of the season. In 16 games (nine starts) with Long Island, Martin posted 16.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest.

With a depleted Brooklyn roster heading into the Orlando bubble, Martin may have a chance at getting some more NBA time as someone who has been in the system for a good portion of the season.

Skyforce History: As mentioned, Martin joined the Sioux Falls Skyforce as an affiliate player after having spent Summer League and training camp with the Miami HEAT. Martin quickly carved out an important bench role for Sioux Falls, averaging 18.5 points and 5.0 assists in just under 30 minutes per contest.

NBA Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 BRK 3 0 5.3 0.33 1.67 .200 0.00 0.33 .000 0.00 0.00 .000 0.00 0.67 0.67 0.67 0.33 0.33 0.00 0.00 0.67
CAREER   3 0 5.3 0.33 1.67 .200 0.00 0.33 .000 0.00 0.00 .000 0.00 0.67 0.67 0.67 0.33 0.33 0.00 0.00 0.67

 

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 * All Teams 37 12 30.4 6.41 13.68 .468 1.08 3.59 .301 2.43 3.49 .698 0.70 2.70 3.41 4.54 1.84 0.57 2.41 2.41 17.73
2019-20 * SXF 21 3 29.4 6.76 13.86 .488 1.05 3.71 .282 2.38 3.43 .694 0.71 2.24 2.95 4.95 1.57 0.38 2.43 2.57 18.48
2019-20 * LIN 16 9 31.6 5.94 13.44 .442 1.12 3.44 .327 2.50 3.56 .702 0.69 3.31 4.00 4.00 2.19 0.81 2.38 2.19 16.75
CAREER   37 12 30.4 6.41 13.68 .468 1.08 3.59 .301 2.43 3.49 .698 0.70 2.70 3.41 4.54 1.84 0.57 2.41 2.41 17.73

 

 

* * * * *

Kyle Alexander: Miami HEAT

Overview: What Kyle Alexander can bring to the table for the Miami HEAT is largely left unproven to this point in the season. After showing flashes as an affiliate player for the Sioux Falls Skyforce early in the season, Alexander signed a two-way contract with the HEAT on January 15, 2020. However, he has since been sidelined with a knee injury and has yet to appear in an NBA game. What we do know is that the HEAT think Alexander is a worthy investment, and fans are eager for his return to play.

Skyforce History: Alexander joined the Skyforce as an affiliate player this season after having gone through training camp with the Miami HEAT. He had earned the nickname “The Anchor” while at Tennessee for his defensive prowess and leadership, and that name held true during his time in Sioux Falls.

He turned heads in his first glimpse at NBA G League action, nearing a triple-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks against the Iowa Wolves. He turned in seven double-doubles in total while averaging 10.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game on the season. He also tallied multiple blocks in 14 contests this year.

NBA G League Stats Breakdown:

Season Team GP GS MIN FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OFF DEF TRB AST STL BLK PF TOV PTS
2019-20 SXF 23 21 25.1 4.39 6.35 .692 0.04 0.13 .333 1.09 1.52 .714 3.17 5.91 9.09 0.96 0.70 2.17 2.96 1.30 10.57
CAREER   23 21 25.1 4.39 6.35 .692 0.04 0.13 .333 1.09 1.52 .714 3.17 5.91 9.09 0.96 0.70 2.17 2.96 1.30 10.57