1. Jeremiah Martin gets buckets.
If the NBA G League had a Sixth Man of the Year award, Jeremiah Martin would certainly be in the running. He finished the month of November averaging 22.0 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent from the field. He’s been a spark plug off the bench for the Force in eight of the team’s 11 games so far this season, and has recorded multiple point-assist double-doubles.
Coming off of a 31-point performance in a blow-out win over the Northern Arizona Suns on Saturday, November 30, Martin has now scored 30-or-more points in a team-high three games this season. Martin leads the NBA G League with 242 points scored this season. In addition, he also ranks first in free throws made (39) and second in total field goals made (84). Martin’s ability to get to the line has given him a boost this season as the new G League free throw rule has put a higher emphasis on foul shots. Martin’s been to the line a league-high 52 times.
2. Kyle Alexander is thriving at the professional level.
In his four years at the University of Tennessee, Kyle Alexander’s best statistical season came as a senior when he posted 7.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.73 blocks per game. In his first year as a pro, Alexander is posting 12.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks through 11 games so far this season. Alexander has recorded double-digit rebounds on seven occasions so far this year, and Saturday’s game snapped a 10-game streak in which he recorded at least one block.
Known primarily for his leadership, work ethic and defensive ability while in college, Alexander has found a way to be impactful on both ends of the floor for the Skyforce. He’s benefited from the court spacing that professional basketball offers, and solid guard play from the Force has provided him with more opportunities to score around the rim.
Despite his teammates making plays for him, Alexander is responsible for much of the production himself. He ranks second in the NBA G League in total rebounds (120) and second in the G League in offensive rebounds (39). When he catches or rebounds the ball near the rim, it’s over. Alexander is shooting at a 72.4 percent clip this season. That ranks him fifth in the league among qualified players. For reference, Khem Birch (70.3 percent) holds the Sioux Falls franchise record for field goal percentage in a single season. Alexander has a lot of season left in front of him, but is in line to be one of the most efficient players the franchise has ever seen.
3. Daryl Macon is even BETTER than last season.
Daryl Macon has a strong professional debut as a two-way player for the Dallas Mavericks last season. This year, however, as a two-way player for the Miami HEAT, he’s been even better. He’s played in seven of the Force’s 11 games so far this season, leaving him out of qualified league leaders, but he’s averaged team-highs of 23.4 points and 7.0 assists to go along with 5.4 rebounds per game.
Though the sample size is somewhat limited to this point, Macon has increased his production across the board. His stat line is an uptick from the 19.0 points, 6.2 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game he averaged a season ago. Saturday’s game snapped a six-game streak of scoring 20-or-more points to start the season for Macon, but for good reason. Macon tallied 17 points and 10 assists in just 25 minutes as the Skyforce reserved played the entire fourth quarter. The double-double was his second in seven games this season, whereas he notched a double-double just five times in his 41 games a season ago.
4. Mychal Mulder might give Duncan Robinson a run for his money.
Former Miami HEAT two-way player Duncan Robinson came in and set a franchise record with 157 made three-pointers in just 33 games played last season. His success from the perimeter was unprecedented as he shot 48.3 percent from three-point range. Sioux Falls fans thought they’d never see anything like it again… then Mychal Mulder came to town.
In 11 games so far this season, Mulder has knocked down an NBA G League-high 50 three-pointers while shooting a team-best 45.0 percent from long distance. He’s made multiple three-pointers in all 11 contests, including eight performances with four-or-more made three-pointers. His 18.7 points per game rank him third on the team in scoring output behind Martin and Macon, but his contributions shouldn’t be overlooked.
Mulder has been the most consistent attack from the outside, opening up space on the inside for his fellow guards and bigs to attack and operate. Head Coach Eric Glass has found ways to get him open looks so far this season and he’s taken full advantage of his opportunities. With his current pace, Mulder could track down Robinson’s franchise record in just 35 games played this season, leaving space for him to create an insurmountable gap in the last 15 games of the season.
Like any player in the G League chasing down franchise or league records, it will depend on how many games Mulder can compile this season. An NBA call-up could derail his chances of catching Robinson for the franchise lead, but that’s what it’s all about anyway. Mulder should not be overlooked as someone that can fill it up at the next level as well.
5. Marcus Lee is who we thought he was.
A knee injury before his rookie season began last year threw a wrench into Marcus Lee’s early career. He was sidelined until late-January, but the Miami HEAT liked him enough to retain him as an affiliate player amidst his recovery. Lee returned for the final 19 games of the season last year, averaging 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in just under 21 minutes per game. This year, his production has increased despite playing even fewer minutes per game, splitting time with rookie Kyle Alexander.
Lee has become more effective as the season has progressed this year, and is starting to consistently show signs of what the HEAT saw in him when they brought him to training camp a year ago. In mid-November, he played a season-high 24 minutes and tallied a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double against the South Bay Lakers. He followed that with an 18-point (9-10 FG) performance in a home win over the Agua Caliente Clippers two nights later.
Lee is shooting a team-best 75.4 percent from the field and is providing some of the best in-game throw-downs of the season. He’s adjusted to what his new role is under Coach Glass and has paired well with Martin and newly-acquired Jarrett Jack in the second unit. He’s feasting in the pick-and-role style of offense that has helped Sioux Falls’ bench unit find its stride after some early-season woes.
6. Jarrett Jack can still hoop.
Jarrett Jack initially signed with the Skyforce in March of last season, hoping some run in the G League would help him grab a spot on an NBA roster toward the end of the season. Unfortunately, just three quarters into his Skyforce tenure, Jack suffered a season-ending knee injury that some thought would signify the end of the now-36-year-old’s career. However, after an offseason of recovery, Jack is back and still hoping some time spent in the G League will help him get back to the sport’s highest level.
Rightfully so, Jack has been eased back into action following his injury. While playing just 15.5 minutes per game, Jack has still managed to post averages of 9.7 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 52.9 percent from the field. In his season debut on Wednesday, November 27 against the Texas Legends, Jack scored 15 points and tallied five assists in a season-high 19 minutes, finishing plus-10 in the contest. The 13-year NBA veteran isn’t just here to be a positive presence in the locker room. He’s here to make an impact on the court. If and when his minutes start to increase as he works his way back into basketball condition, we’re going to see exactly what the veteran has left in the tank.
7. Davon Reed’s versatility has been vital.
NBA and G League veteran Davon Reed has been one of the most consistent pieces to the Skyforce puzzle now 11 games into the season. He has started every game, and now leads the Skyforce in minutes played (376) with an average of 34.2 per game. He has a knack for making game-winning plays, and though his scoring output has drifted back down to his career norm at 13.8 points per game on the season, he’s no stranger to clutch buckets.
The Miami HEAT brand of basketball, as of late, has put an emphasis on position-less players. There’s no better example of this than what Reed has been asked to do for the Skyforce this season. After Sioux Falls let Jordan Swopshire go, the team has rolled out a small-ball starting lineup with Reed occupying the four spot. Standing at just 6-5, Reed has been asked to guard players much bigger than he is while he attempts to take advantage of the mismatches on the offensive end of the court.
Sioux Falls is 2-1 since Reed has been asked to start at the four position, having outscored opponents by a combined 47 points in that span. Reed is also a combined plus-40 over the team’s last three games since the switch.
8. Homecourt advantage is REAL this year.
The Skyforce are 5-6 this season, but a few difficult road trips have contributed to the early-season struggles. Sioux Falls is just 1-5 on the road so far, opposed to its 4-1 record on its home floor at the Sanford Pentagon.
To help paint a better picture of just how much better the Force have been at home this year, we’ve turned to the numbers. The Skyforce are shooting and average of 51.9 percent from the field at home compared to just 46.8 percent from the field on the road. Similarly, the Force are shooting 43.1 percent from three-point range and 79.8 percent from the free throw line at the Sanford Pentagon compared to marks of just 32.8 percent from beyond the arc and 68.1 percent from the charity stripe on the road. In fact, beyond just shooting percentages, Sioux Falls is better in every statistical category except steals per game (7.2 at home, 8.5 on the road) when playing on its home floor.
Two wins in two nights. 🔥🔥
— Sioux Falls Skyforce (@SFSkyforce) December 1, 2019
In addition, the Skyforce are holding opponents to just 36.0 made field goals at home opposed to an average of 44.2 made field goals on the road. Opponents are shooting just 42.4 percent from the field at the Pentagon compared to a 48.8 percent mark on the opponent’s home floor. To round out the large discrepancies, opponents average just 37.2 rebounds and 23.2 assists when playing in Sioux Falls in contract to 44.7 rebounds and 30.2 assists per game when the Force are on the road.
The Skyforce has a perfect opportunity to flip the script on its road woes this weekend as the team travels to Austin on Friday, then on to Memphis to take on the hottest team in the league on Wednesday, December 11. Sioux Falls fans have brought the energy for their team so far this season, and the Force will have to look to carry some of that energy with them as they travel throughout the rest of the season.
9. Skyler Flatten is easing his way into the rotation.
The Clark, SD native and former South Dakota State Jackrabbit has rightfully built up some excitement in his professional debut. However, his season has gotten off to a bit of a slow start coming off of a minor hip/groin injury. Nevertheless, Flatten is slowly beginning to find his groove in the Skyforce rotation and is beginning to make some impact plays as part of Sioux Falls’ second unit.
👀 SKYLER FLATTEN SIGHTING!
— Sioux Falls Skyforce (@SFSkyforce) November 23, 2019
After going scoreless in his first two games back from injury, Flatten put together a nice three-game homestand last week for Sioux Falls. Over his last three games, Flatten has scored at least eight points and has made at least two three-pointers in each contest. The Skyforce will need Flatten to continue knocking down outside shots as he continues to play his way into the rotation. He’s been helped by the addition of Jarrett Jack and the hot play of Marcus Lee as of late. Jack and Lee’s production on the interior has opened some shooting space for Flatten on the perimeter, and those three combined have given the Force a major boost when the starters leave the floor.
10. Offensive efficiency has been key so far this season.
The Sioux Falls Skyforce is leading the NBA G League if field goal percentage with an average of 49.0 percent per game. This type of efficiency on the offensive end of the court has been key in helping the Force stay in the mix early on in the season. In addition to the league’s best field goal percentage, the Force rank in the top 10 in three-point percentage (36.6), free throws made per game (11.9), assists per game (24.9), and fewest turnovers per game (17.7).
Limiting mistakes, sharing the ball and shooting at a high level have made the Force competitive in even the toughest matchups so far this season, and they’ll need to capitalize on those strengths moving forward as they look to play catchup to the Memphis Hustle who leads the Midwest Division and the Western Conference as a whole.