Skyforce Report: The Call-Ups during a successful season

The Skyforce season is over after losing to the Oklahoma City Blue in the Western Conference Semifinals of the G League playoffs. This concludes a fabulous campaign from the Skyforce overall. They started the G League regular season 9-0 and used that to power them to the number two seed in the Western Conference. Most notably, there were five players on the team to get NBA deals. This was a stacked roster to start the year and like any good G League team, they had a lot of change. The change was mostly due to players getting deals. Let’s take a look at some of the players and their accomplishments this year.

 

Alondes Williams

Alondes Williams started the year with a great Heat camp and many were hoping he would get the last Heat roster spot. Unfortunately, Williams did not get the last spot and started the year with a standard G League contract. He quickly let everyone know that his NBA deal was coming soon though.  

 

When a two-way spot opened up with the Miami Heat, Williams was among the favorites to receive the deal. Quickly the Heat signed Williams, and this was because of his fast improvement and his polish on the offensive end. He is a flat-out bucket-getter and can score points in a hurry, but that is not all he can do. Williams can also dish out assists, making him an all-around offensive player who has the potential to be a long-time NBA player. Williams finished the year winning the Most Improved Player for the G League, which is quite an award to win in a league focused on development.  Alondes Williams has put his name on the map for Miami Heat fans, now he is trying to make sure no one forgets his name.

 

Jamaree Bouyea, Drew Peterson, and Justin Champagnie. 

 

Bouyea, Peterson, and Champagnie all received two-way contracts with other NBA teams this year and they all did it in different ways. 

 

Peterson got his first with the Boston Celtics after being a do-it-all guy for the Skyforce. Anyone who has followed my content knows how much I love Peterson. He just plays basketball the right way. Even though he’s in the Celtics organization, I still love him just as much. He is the ultimate plug-and-play player. There is not a more versatile player in the G League than Peterson

 

Justin Champagnie signed a 10-day deal with the Washington Wizards and then parlayed that into a two-way contract. Champagnie is a guard/forward that can get points in a hurry. Once he is hot there is no stopping him, especially from three. He invites contact and excels at driving, and maybe the best thing he did with the Skyforce was his rebounding from the guard/forward position. He was an offensive catalyst that could win any game by himself on any given night. 

 

Jamaree Bouyea signed a two-way contract with the San Antonio Spurs, and he earned this contract by being an excellent point guard in all facets of the game. In my opinion, Bouyea was the most important player on the Skyforce this season. Bouyea stuffed the stat sheet on the offensive and defensive end. He also was making sure guys were lined up correctly, and that the offense was running smoothly. Bouyea also knew when the team needed him to score or when they needed him to facilitate and set up other scores. He was a perfect fit for the Skyforce. 

 

Malik Williams 

 

Malik Williams signed a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors right before the G League playoffs, which was a huge blow to the Skyforce. Williams was a dominant rebounder and was always reliable down low. He was also willing to space out and shoot the three. Williams has a smooth shooting motion that made him trustworthy. Outside of Orlando Robinson, Malik Williams was by far the best center the Skyforce had this year. Another cool note was that Williams played against the Miami Heat in the final two games of the regular season. We will continue to keep our fingers crossed that Williams gets a longer NBA deal soon. 

Skyforce report: Olin Carter making a name for himself

Do any players come to mind when you think of a microwave scorer? Is there one guy that comes to mind who never makes just one shot and always seems to make them in bunches? To me the first player I always think of is Max Strus, it never seems like he just made just one shot. Anytime he hit one three-pointer you knew another was coming shortly after. For the Skyforce, that would be Olin Carter, when Carter gets hot there is simply no stopping him, as a defense you just have to pray he misses from then on.

We saw that this past weekend.

Saturday, Carter had 23 points and 6 threes.  Sunday, Carter had a little bit more of a quiet game until he hit the biggest shot, draining the game-winning three in the final seconds to lead the Skyforce to a thrilling victory.

Carter has emerged to be one of the more important players on the Skyforce. He’s gone from being a secondary piece to being more of a focal point. They need his shooting and scoring mightily at times. Carter understands this and is always willing to get his shot off. Like any shooter he’s looking for his shot and hunting it, just waiting for one to go in to start a show. So, how has Carter risen through the ranks of the Skyforce in a short time? It’s simple, he always stays ready, he’s always prepared. That can be difficult in a league where there’s so much change from game to game and there’s so much focus on development.

Through the changes, Carter tries to keep a mindset that you can only control what you can control. Carter states, “I just try to stay ready for whatever situation I face through staying in the gym and making sure that I’m always locked in. The G League is a league where you can get DNPs at the end of the rotation one night, and then 3 days later you’re starting and playing 40 minutes. It’s a league where you have to always be ready for the opportunity and take advantage of it when it comes.” This mindset has been displayed on the court, by his important minutes. To earn a spot quickly one has to earn the trust of the coaches first. And that is by doing everything behind the scenes and having a good attitude about the situation. 

 

One thing I love about Carter is he knows what he’s good at and typically does not try to do too much. He knows his biggest strength is shooting, so that’s what he looks for, but there has been a recent development in his ability to do more than just shoot. I asked Carter what he’s been working on to improve his game and what his biggest strength was to see if he had another opinion he said “I think my biggest strength is my ability to shoot the ball. I think what I’ve improved on most and am continuing to improve on is my versatility. I want to be a guy who can score at 3 levels, play high-level defense, and be able to run a team. My versatility is something I’m always working on.”

 

What I like about Carter is that he’s been putting in the work behind the scenes to expand his game and then putting it into practice during games. Anyone can do work when people are watching and will work on the things they already do well because that’s more fun and easier. The hard thing to do is to work on something that you’re not as good as to try to improve it. That’s more frustrating and some people avoid that frustration, Carter embraces it and then displays it in real games. This improvement in versatility makes him more valuable because even when he’s not hitting shots, he can still find other ways to contribute. He’s been more of a ball handler instead of a shot hunter. Now yes, while he and I have said his best thing is still shooting, he now has versatility that makes him harder to guard because you’re not looking out for just one thing.

He’s not as one-dimensional, which is required to be a consistent difference maker. This aligns with Carter’s main goal of the year and his personal goal, “My personal goal is to set myself up to play at the highest level I can next year. And my team goal is to win that G League championship.” To achieve both of these goals Carter has to continue to expand his game and become more versatile. His understanding of this is a large reason why he has grown as a basketball player. His work aligns with his goals. Everything he does helps lead to the completion of them. He is decisive in his approach and is not wasting energy on things that don’t matter. I love it when a player is obsessed with improving, that’s how people make it in this world of basketball. I love the constant self-reflection and constant grind when no one is watching. Olin Carter is doing just that he’s putting in the work behind the scenes when no one will know and it’s starting to show itself on the court. Carter wants readers to know that it isn’t just him though. His teammates and coaches are putting in the work as well, this is why there has been so much success. Though it’s a team effort, he wants to shout out one of his coaches, Carter says “I want to give a shoutout to my coach Nate Wilson. He’s been in the gym with me grinding every day and has helped me find my rhythm since I’ve been here.”

So, if you’re wondering how Olin Carter has risen up the ranks of the Skyforce in such a short time, it’s because while I’m writing this and while you’re reading this Carter is in the gym working on his game.

Caleb Daniels emerging for the Skyforce

Being a G League team means you have to always be ready to deal with change. At any moment, your best players can be poached, and you are left to find a way to fill the void. This is exactly what the Skyforce are going through right now. Justin Champagnie was signed by the Wizards and Alondes Williams received a 2-way so he will be with the Skyforce less. Then on top of these two players signing deals, Josh Christopher has been dealing with an ankle injury and has been missing time. This has left the Skyforce desperately needing players to step up and produce at a higher clip than they have before. 

Though several players have answered the call no one has answered it better than Caleb Daniels. Daniels has been playing his best basketball of the season. He has skyrocketed his production in recent games, becoming one of the Skyforce’s best players. Daniels has consistently been one of the leading scorers on the team recently and has been doing in it a variety of ways. He is a capable three-point shooter who always makes the open ones, then once he gets going can branch out into contested threes.

The thing I like most about his offensive game is his physicality. Daniels is never afraid of contact and will consistently drive to the rim. The willingness to drive has been a large reason for his success. He never feels the need to force shots, he simply just makes the right basketball play. For example, if someone closes out too hard, he will put the ball on the floor and penetrate the defense. If there is a lazy closeout he will not hesitate and let the three fly. His decisiveness and willingness to take either option has been a massive advantage. When asked about his recent improvement in play Daniels stated “I attribute it to just playing basketball the right way and trusting that the ball will come back to me…. All of the hard work with developing my craft, and IQ, and watching film to correct my mistakes from past games has been helping along the way as well.” Daniels plays the game the right way and trusts

that the process will lead to positive results. He puts in the work and watches film; this lets him be better prepared for his opportunities. This has been evident as he is consistently making the right plays and putting himself in good positions to succeed. 

With all of the changes, the Skyforce is not the same team that started the season. They have to grind out more games and try to find ways to win, rather than just relying on talent to beat teams. The Skyforce have been battling as of late, and even in the losses they have done a respectable job of fighting undermanned to keep the game close. No one is in for moral victories, but it does show the fight and desire this team has to do something special. Daniels is quick to mention the mentality of his team stating “We have a team full of guys that have a “don’t quit” mentality. We are a very resilient team as we have shown all year……

What stands out the most is how hard we play from top to bottom. Our expectation as a team is to play hard for each other and have each other’s back.” No matter the circumstance you can always count on the Skyforce to give their maximum effort down to the end. They take a sense of pride in their mentality. There are no excuses on the Skyforce, players show up and work, not only for themselves but for each other.

Daniels alludes to this, “I think it is all of us holding each other accountable behind the scenes. We all want to see each other at our best, which ultimately helps the team. So, we push each other and hold each other to that standard every time we are out there together.” This accountability has certainly helped Daniels and the Skyforce as a whole. The improvement of individuals on the roster cannot go unnoticed. As for the team and getting back to the results they desire, they still have work to do to figure out how to fill the void left by players leaving and injuries. As far as getting back to the standard, Daniels is not worried, “As long as we continue to push each other individually and as a team, we will be able to be the best team that we can be by the end of the year.” 

NBA and the Growth of Esports: A Thriving Partnership in the Sports World

The NBA has been actively participating in the growth of the esports industry, leveraging the love for gaming to expand its audience and tap into new revenue streams. With the increasing popularity of esports, the industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with projected revenues reaching $905 million in 2018 and expected to exceed $1 billion within the next two years. In response to this shift, the NBA has been investing significant resources into the world of competitive gaming.

One notable example of the NBA’s involvement in esports is the creation of the NBA 2K League. This professional gaming league, focused on the popular NBA 2K video game series and organized by the NBA itself, demonstrates the league’s commitment to integrating esports into its business strategy. The NBA 2K League has attracted not only a diverse range of players but also a substantial viewership.

In addition to using esports platforms as a marketing tool, the NBA is also learning from the esports industry how to better engage and interact with fans. Nowadays there are also several sites with some of the best insights and information where it is possible to learn more and also to get the latest esports news and pro-gaming tournament coverage. This synergy between the NBA and esports has created numerous opportunities for growth and collaboration, benefiting both the traditional sports world and the nascent esports sector. The continued expansion of esports presents a unique opportunity for the NBA to reach a wider audience while simultaneously establishing its presence in an industry that is gaining rapid global traction.

Evolution and Integration of NBA in Esports

Rise of the NBA 2K League

The NBA has taken significant steps to capitalize on the rapid growth of the esports industry. In 2017, the league partnered with Take-Two Interactive, the publisher behind the popular basketball simulation video game NBA 2K, to create the NBA 2K League. The NBA 2K League is a professional esports league that hosts competitions using the NBA 2K video game series. This move allowed the NBA to merge the world of traditional sports with the constantly expanding esports market.

Impact of NBA Owners and Athletes on Esports

NBA team owners and athletes have also recognized the potential of the esports industry and have actively invested in various esports organizations. Many NBA teams, such as the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, own their own NBA 2K League franchises. This involvement of NBA owners and athletes not only brings credibility to the esports scene but also provides the necessary resources for growth and development. The integration of traditional sports figures into the esports realm can help increase brand awareness and attract new audiences.

Partnerships and Audience Growth

The NBA’s foray into esports and the NBA 2K League has allowed the organization to tap into new markets and demographics, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. As of 2019, 57% of the world’s esports viewers come from this region. This helps the NBA expand its reach beyond the United States and engage with new fans, including young consumers who may be more likely to consume esports content than traditional sports events.

Moreover, the NBA has effectively used marketing and branding strategies to grow its audience and revenue in the esports industry. The follow-up of new and upcoming players and the media coverage given to its major stars is also indispensable. Partnerships with major brands and investors have played an essential role in the financial growth of the esports sector. In 2018, the esports industry was projected to generate $905 million in revenue, with a large part contributed by China and North America, and it is expected to exceed $1 billion in the coming years.

Global Esports Market and Competitive Scene

Leading Esports Titles and Their Influence

The global esports market has experienced substantial growth over the recent years, primarily driven by the popularity of leading titles such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, and the Overwatch League. These games have created an ecosystem that attracts worldwide attention and an increasing number of viewers. Initiatives like Twitch have revolutionized the way fans consume esports content, further fueling the industry’s expansion.

Key aspects of successful esports titles include:

  • Engaging gameplay that keeps viewers entertained
  • Regular updates and support from developers
  • A competitive scene with organized tournaments and events

These elements combined have contributed to the emergence of a thriving esports landscape, allowing for a tight-knit relationship between game developers, esports organizations, brands, and viewers.

Comparing Esports Revenue Streams to Traditional Sports

Esports has established itself as a lucrative industry, but how does it compare to traditional sports revenue streams? Traditionally, sports make use of sources like ticket sales, broadcasting rights, sponsorship deals, and merchandise sales.

The following table demonstrates the comparison of revenue streams of esports and traditional sports:

Revenue Stream Traditional Sports Esports
Ticket sales In-person event attendance In-person event attendance
Broadcasting rights TV, Cable networks Online streaming platforms
Sponsorship deals Brands, Corporations Brands, Corporations
Merchandise sales Apparel, memorabilia Apparel, in-game items

While there are similarities, esports has unique revenue streams such as in-game item sales and digital advertising. Moreover, esports relies heavily on online streaming platforms, providing a diverse audience reach compared to traditional sports’ reliance on television and cable networks.

Geographic Expansion of the Esports Industry

The esports market has seen significant geographic expansion, particularly in regions like Asia, Europe, and North America. Asia, especially China, has been a prominent hub for esports, housing several successful teams and competitions. In Europe and North America, the esports scene continues to evolve, thanks to the support of game developers, media coverage, and investments from well-established traditional sports organizations.

However, with rapid growth come challenges for the esports industry. One concern is maintaining a healthy ecosystem while coping with the demands of expansion. This requires coordination among all stakeholders – from developers to competition organizers – to ensure the industry remains profitable and sustainable in the long run.

Skyforce need to solve their defensive issues

The Skyforce still has the best record in the G League, currently sitting at 12-4. When having the best record in the league it can be hard to be disappointed, but that is the feeling when I think about the Skyforce’s recent play. Since starting the regular season 9-0, they are now 3-4 in their last 7 games and have been showing more weakness. Yes, they have been trying to integrate fresh players and figure out a new rotation, but that does not excuse some of the issues we see on the court.

I previously mentioned that to get back on track the Skyforce needs to tighten up their defense, this simply has not been the case. They have gotten worse. The Skyforce have let up 125.2 points per game in their last 5 games. That is simply unacceptable and there have been a couple of reasons for this. The biggest thing that stands out is the lack of personal passion in playing defense. Too many times guys are not putting in the extra effort needed to get stops. It is not uncommon to see players disengaged on the defensive end and looking like they don’t care.

There have been several instances of lazy defense being played. There have been many halfhearted “steal” attempts and throwing out their hands for “help” defense. The only way to fix this is to have personal pride in your match-up. It should hurt when someone scores on you, it should make you upset. Now I understand that defense isn’t sexy and doesn’t get fans as excited, but it is necessary to consistently win basketball games. If the Skyforce wants to get back to their dominant play, it has to start on the defensive end.

They can’t expect to just “out-talent” other teams. They have to earn each win, and recently they haven’t done the necessary things to get the wins. I asked Jamaree Bouyea about what he feels the team can do to turn this around and he stated, “I think we have a great group of talent and if we just take it day by day and game by game, we will get back to being ourselves as a team.” They need to take it game by game like Bouyea said, each game is important. They cannot get caught up in their record. This team truly has a chance to do something special, if they want to get back to championship form, they need to turn it up on the defensive end. 

Jamaree Bouyea

The Skyforce has been more fluid on offense recently. I feel a large reason for this is players sacrificing aspects of their game for the betterment of the team. The person who sticks out the most in this regard is Jamaree Bouyea. I previously wrote about how his role has changed to be more of a facilitator and how he is not having the number of shots he is used to, and this is still true. I was able to ask him about his thoughts on it and he said, “My role is a bit different than last year for sure, but I still think I have to find ways to contribute as much as possible. Overall, finding ways to score, make plays for others, and defending is what I take pride in and try to do on a nightly basis.” I love this answer because it shows that he understands that his game has to continue to adapt to best fit the team. The Skyforce have an abundance of scoring talent, but what they lack, at times, is a guy to set up easy baskets. Bouyea has taken on that role and has flourished. As for an NBA call-up, like I’ve been saying he deserves, Bouyea has the perfect attitude “All I can say is that I’ll continue to play the right way and play to win. Opportunities will come when they are supposed to.” 

RJ Hampton

RJ Hampton looks to have found his footing with the Skyforce. The past two games have been Hampton’s best games of the year. He’s finished with stat lines of 27/6/8 and 18/7/6 respectively. He has been attacking the basket more and having more energy when he plays. He looks much more comfortable and seems to understand his role better. His efficiency has spiked because of this. Hampton needs to continue to play to his strengths and rely on them more. Overall, a promising stretch for Hampton, the Skyforce have to be thrilled with his recent play. 

Malik Williams 

I have been impressed by Malik Williams in recent games. He has been a good stretch 5 and a weapon for the Skyforce. Through 16 regular season games, Williams is averaging 10.7 points and 7.2 rebounds on 49.6% from the field and 45% from three. He has made the most of every opportunity he has received and has become an important part of the team. There is not a game that goes by, that Williams’s impact is not felt. He has improved as the season has progressed and is playing his best basketball as of late. If he continues at this level of play, then he could receive NBA interest. 

 

Skyforce finally start to stumble some

After starting the G League regular season 9-0, the Sioux Falls Skyforce have now dropped 2 of their last three. The Skyforce still leads the Western Conference with 10 wins but has dropped to 2nd in win percentage. Let’s dive into some takeaways and player notes. 

The Skyforce recently played two close games against the Maine Celtics splitting the series 1-1. These were 2 of the toughest games the Skyforce have played all year and were a good learning experience. I asked Coach Powell about what the Celtics do specifically that makes them a tough team to play, and he said, “They are a very talented team and have a good mixture of young guys and vets. They are well-coached and play hard. They have all the elements to make a good team at any level.” This was clear as the Celtics were not lacking any firepower to keep up with a talented Skyforce team. Typically, you see the Skyforce pull away quickly from teams due to the sheer talent on the roster, but the Celtics were able to go blow for blow and even carried a 4-point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter in both matchups. One of the players who gave them trouble was Drew Peterson, who was on the Skyforce during the Showcase Cup part of the season. In the 2nd matchup, Peterson was simply on fire and finished with a career-high of 30 points.

I asked Coach Powell about what makes Peterson special, and he said “He is a versatile player. He can shoot from outside, has length, and can shoot from midrange. He is a confident player and got it going. The rim probably looked huge to him, it was not surprising what he did today, we know he can do it.” Peterson was showing his versatility, especially in his scoring. He was hitting threes as well as getting open looks in the midrange and at the rim. He consistently makes the right plays. Coach Powell also added a laugh and said, “I wish he didn’t have to do it to us.” That we can all agree on. 

For the Skyforce to get back on track I believe they need to tighten up the defense and find more chemistry. In their two losses, they gave up 129 and 131 points, respectively. There has been a lack of resistance to drivers and there have been too many ill-advised steal attempts. They need better discipline to know when it is okay to gamble. There were several instances of a failed steal attempt leaving the defense vulnerable. This was something they had balanced perfectly during their hot start, but now they are slipping into unhealthy habits.

On the offensive end, they need to continue to find ways to mesh. This team has an abundance of talent, numerous guys could be on an NBA roster right now. So much talent on one team can make it difficult to figure out who is the go-to guy and how to distribute shots. Though, I bet they will figure it out and get back on another long winning streak. Their next game is on January 30th against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who are currently 1st in the Western Conference. 

 

Josh Christopher 

The Skyforce added to a stacked roster and picked up Josh Christopher. He is a former 1st round pick in the NBA Draft and played 2 years in the NBA. Skyforce fans might remember Christopher because on January 7th he lit up the Skyforce for 34 points. Having so much talent on one team can sometimes be challenging but Christopher is not worried about the chemistry saying that they “just need time” and he is “willing to sacrifice and adapt. To help the team.” For him personally, he is coming from the Salt Lake City Stars where he primarily had the ball in his hands, now he is taking on a completely different role. He is playing more off-ball and is not getting the same usage as he was on the Stars. I asked him how this adjustment would be, and he said “Playing in the flow of the game is something I have done all my life. With the Stars, I had the opportunity to be a PG and have the ball in my hands more. With the Skyforce I will go back to playing in the flow like I have done all my life.” This is clear as he is shooting 52% from the field in his three games with the Skyforce and it looks like he has been with the team all year. As for what the fans can look forward to the most about Christopher joining the team, “Fans can look forward to me being a workhorse. I can be an electric player and I will bring a hard-nosed mentality to the team.” 

 

Jamaree Bouyea

Bouyea is a Skyforce fan favorite and for good reason. Last year in his rookie year he was All-NBA G League 2nd team and NBA G League All-Rookie team. Bouyea has backed this up with another good season and is currently averaging 14.7/5.5/6.6 on 47% shooting and 39% from three. He is also doing work on the defensive end averaging 2.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Bouyea is the definition of an all-around player. There is not a thing on the Basketball court that he can’t do. Though he can do it all Bouyea excels at getting to the basket with his quickness. This not only gives him easy opportunities at the rim but also helps set up his teammates for easy buckets. His ability to blow by defenders makes the defense play back opening up good looks from three as well. With the addition of Christopher, Bouyea’s role has changed a little bit. He has had to sacrifice some of his shots and become more of a facilitator. He has excelled in this role and has been dominating games by controlling the flow of the offense. Bouyea has consistently broken down his defender and then dumped the ball off to a cutting teammate or has kicked the ball out for a wide-open three. Sometimes looking at the state sheet doesn’t tell the whole story about Bouyea, you need to watch the games to see all that he does. I’ll continue to say it, Jamaree Bouyea deserves to be on an NBA roster. It’s criminal he isn’t on one already.  

Miami Heat takeaways as first half of season closes

The Miami Heat have settled into the second tier of the Eastern Conference. They currently stand at 5th in the standings. This team is still hard to judge and predict as it has continued to be riddled with injuries all year. Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Jimmy Butler have played less than 10 games together. With that being said let us talk about some things standing out for the Heat. 

 

Jovic flashing

Nikola Jovic has carved out a role for himself. Jovic originally got an opportunity due to injuries for other players, but he took advantage of the opportunity. Jovic has averaged 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in his last 7 games. This has been the most promising stretch of his career. It needs to be mentioned that Jovic has looked much more comfortable since coming back from his G-League assignment. Getting playing time grew his confidence and has made him a more complete player. He has shown that he is the best transition player the Heat have. He is the only player that I trust in transition. He consistently makes the right reads and is converting his transition opportunities.

He does not have any doubt in his decision-making, and his decisiveness leads to results. Jovic is not afraid to get a rebound and then take the ball up the court. He looks seamless. This helps increase the Heat’s pace and does not let the defense set themselves, leading to easy baskets. One thing that has surprised me about Jovic is his defense. Jovic is not known as a defender by any means, but his improvement over the season cannot be understated. He is learning how to use his frame to his advantage and is no longer fouling every defensive possession. It is important to remember Jovic is still young and has time to develop. There will be ups and downs, as progress is not linear. We are starting to see the potential that Jovic has on a more consistent basis though. Jovic deserves a spot in the rotation moving forward, there is no doubt about it. 

 

Herro rebounding

The Heat needed Tyler Herro to come out of a slump, and he delivered. Herro has become a constant talking point for any Heat fan. This is the life of a young fringe All-Star who is the center of trade talks. This was escalated during Herro’s recent struggles. Herro plays a vital role on this team, which is simply, to be a go-to scorer. In January, he’s mostly struggled, and the Heat has been worse for it. This was until Herro changed the game against the Brooklyn Nets on January 15th. The Heat were coming off a 31-point first half (not a typo, I know shocking) and had not hit a three all night.

Then magic happened and Herro nailed back-to-back threes and was cooking the rest of the night. Herro made 5 one legged floaters and was flat-out unstoppable. Herro also nailed several important shots down the stretch and displayed his clutch gene once again, nailing a floater in the final seconds to give the Heat a lead in the final seconds of regulation. The Nets would then go on to tie the game and force overtime. In overtime, the Nets got out to a 5-point lead and the game looked over until Herro once again clawed the Heat back with 2 more threes. Herro had 17 points in the 2nd half and 6 of the Heat’s 8 points in OT.  Herro changed the game, and they would not have won without him. He finished with a final stat line of 29/11/22 on 50% shooting. This was his best game since the start of the new year. I think this game could be a jolt back to the All-Star level we were seeing earlier in the year. 

 

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Back in the muck

The mud is a blessing. It is no secret that the Heat are not a dazzling offensive team or even a fast one. They play slow and force their opponents to play slow. At times this can be very frustrating, but it is where they seem to be the most comfortable, as they have played this style for years. I have joked for years now that Heat fans just need to suffer through the regular season to enjoy the playoffs, which is true to a degree. 82 games of grind-it-out basketball can be draining and hard to watch at times. You have to be a true sicko to enjoy it (me, I’m the sicko).

There is beauty in the struggle, it’s competition, and it doesn’t have to be pretty. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the team that plays the ugliest games in the regular season consistently “overperforms” in the playoffs when games are naturally more of a struggle? I would argue no. For the whole Jimmy Era, the Heat have thrived in the playoffs. In the playoffs nothing but a W matters. The games are not always pretty and have plenty of adversity. I argue that the regular season struggle and constant fight prepare them for adversity and give them comfort in it. They know they can bring any game into the “mud” and more times than not they will succeed. They are battle-tested in ugly basketball. Most teams panic and struggle to find ways to win when their game isn’t going how they planned. For the Heat, it is just another basketball game. I implore you to look at Spo for guidance on how to feel. He LOVES the struggle and fight.

He wants his team to find ways to win even when they aren’t playing their best. The times Spo smiles the biggest are after games that he classifies as “mud.” So next time the Heat are in the ugliest basketball game known to man, just think how sweet those playoff Ws will feel, that no one else saw coming. 

Takeaways from Skyforce’s Strong Start to the Season

The Skyforce have started the regular season 7-0 for the first time in the G-League era. That is very impressive considering the amount of roster movement that takes place in this league. I asked Head Coach Kasib Powell about how he can keep everyone on the same page, “communication is key, and trying to get in front of everything as much as we can, but being able to speak with our guys on a daily basis helps a lot.” The Skyforce has a chance to do something special if they continue to stay on the same page. They are a very deep team and have very few holes because of it. Let’s take a look at what is contributing to such a great start. 

 

The Skyforce can put up a lot of points. The Skyforce rank 5th in points per game, 6th in FG%, 5th in True Shooting, and 10th in offensive rating. Simply put the Skyforce are a top 5 offense in many categories. What is interesting is how they get their points. They are middle of the road in FGA, 3PA, 3P%, FTA, and FT%. So how do all of these numbers lead to a top 5 offense? They make their 2 point shots at a good clip. Whether it is Alondes Willaims breaking down his defender and finishing smoothly inside the arc or it is Orlando Robinson when on assignment from the Heat, dominating the post and getting easy baskets, it is evident they have players that know how to create quality looks. They do a good job of not settling for shots and getting to their spots. As I mentioned earlier this team also has great depth, they have numerous guys that can go off any given night. They have 4 players averaging over 20 points, and 7 players averaging over 10 points.

 

When there are so many formidable scorers on the same team it is impossible to guard. Jamaree Bouyea is a dynamic playmaker for them and puts a lot of strain on the defense. His quickness is unguardable and it allows him to break down a defense to create quality shots. Justin Chmpagnie can get as hot as anyone and put up points FAST in a multitude of ways. Bryson Warren has a smooth stroke from deep and is always ready to let it fly. They also have arguably the two best scorers in the G-League. I mean Alondes Williams just dropped 55 (franchise record) and in the same game, Cole Swider put in a cool 37. Pick your poison, you’ll die either way. 

As good as the offense has been their defense has been better. I honestly did not think I would be commenting on how good their defense is considering how the games leading up to the regular season played out, but here we are. The Skyforce are the #6 defense, according to defensive rating. They also are one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the league, coming in at #3 on defensive rebounding percentage.  So they do a good job of limiting possessions to 1 shot. In the games leading up to the regular season, the Skyforce had a bad habit of gambling for too many steals and at times getting burnt for easy points. I noticed this and Asked Manny Camper if going for steals was something that Coach Powell stressed. Camper stated, “He wants us to be solid and straight up for the most part but if we do feel like we have an opportunity to be disruptive or feel like we have a break on the ball he wants us to be aggressive.” Since the regular season has started the players have had better discipline on when to gamble. They have improved their defense tremendously with this discipline. Coach Powell should be very proud of how they have locked in. 

 

*****

 

Player highlights

Alondes Williams

The only way to start is by mentioning the new owner of the scoring record. I mean come on, Williams was in the ZONE and nothing was stopping him on his way to 55 points against the Stars on January 7th. Williams was unguardable finishing 21-30 from the field and 4-6 from three. He excels at taking his defender one one-on-one and getting a good look inside the arc. He typically is not a three-point shooter, but when his three is falling there is nothing the defense can do. I love watching Williams, his game is so smooth and looks natural. Not many people ever score 55 points in a game, much less a professional basketball game. To Alondes Williams it was just another day in the office telling me after the game  “I just try to take everything day by day and let it flow. I just played the game and if they fall in, cool, if not I am going to try to find a way to help the team win.” Maybe that explains why he didn’t even smile for his celebratory photo, to Alondes it was just another day of basketball. 

Manny Camper

Mr. Grit and Grind, Manny Camper is one of my personal favorites. It isn’t because of sexy numbers or eye-popping plays it is because of all the little things he does. Camper is just a winner, that is all he cares about and it is evident when you watch him. He will do anything required to win. His defense is spectacular and, in my opinion, a large reason why the defense has turned around for the Skyforce. Camper deserves his flowers, and I’m going to make sure he gets them. 

Cole Swider

Cole Swider is one of the best shooters on the planet and it is only a matter of time before people realize it. Swider is shooting a ridiculous 55.3% from three in the regular season on 9.5 attempts. There is not a three-point shot that he can’t hit. He reminds me so much of Duncan Robinson. When asked about the comparison to Robinson, Swider stated “I love the comparison to Duncan, he’s been in the same situation as me and has been very successful in the NBA. He has a great work ethic and has been a great role model for me to model my game after.” 

Sports Betting Trends To Follow

Imagine having an edge over the competition in your sports betting endeavors. That’s what understanding the latest sports betting trends can provide, turning the odds in your favor. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into various sports betting trends, factors influencing these trends, and how to maximize your betting potential using sportsbooks and bonus bets.

Understanding Sports Betting Trends

Sports betting trends are analyses of sports teams’ performances over some time, emphasizing spread betting. Examining team and player performance metrics about the spread gives bettors unique insights.

For example, the team performs against public perception, reflected in their tendency to cover the spread, known as their against the spread (ATS) performance.

NFL Betting Trends: A Closer Look

NFL betting trends are appreciated by sports bettors for their predictive insights on team performances against the spread or straight up in nfl games. In recent seasons, underdogs like San Francisco and Kansas City have performed well against the spread, showcasing a shift in NFL betting trends.

Betting trends also offer insights into head-to-head matchups, bye-week analysis, and player-based stats, which can be helpful when betting on teams like Las Vegas.

College Basketball Betting Insights

Factors such as how a sports team performs and coaching tendencies significantly influence bettors’ decisions in college basketball betting trends. Home and away games also impact these trends, as some teams may perform better at home due to crowd support and familiarity with the arena.

The ranking of a te­am affects how people be­t. If the team ranks high, people­ see them as toughe­r. This alters the betting odds and changes the stakes.

 

Betting Using Sportsbooks and Gift Be­ts

Sites like Bovada sportsbook give you chance­s to use sportsbooks and gift bets. These can improve your betting game and might boost your wins. Be­nefit include:

  • Loads of bonuses and de­als
  • More chances to bet and win cash
  • Incre­ased odds of getting a win
  • A bette­r betting experie­nce

Sportsbooks provide lots of promos and deals. It wants to bring in and ke­ep players, offering more­ chances to bet and make gains.

Use­ these offers wise­ly. Learn how to make the most of gift be­ts. This gives you an edge in the­ betting game.

Choosing Trustworthy Sportsbooks

Look for these­ things when selecting a sportsbook:

  • Good re­putation
  • High security
  • Licensed and re­gulated
  • Flexible payme­nt options
  • Helpful customer service­
  • Bonuses and promos
  • User-friendly e­xperience

Lice­nsing and regulation determine­s if a sportsbook is reliable. These­ show the sportsbook follows rules. This ensure­s your money is safe and the sportsbook ope­rates in a clear, fair way.

Maximizing Bonus Bets

To maximize your bonus bets, consider the following strategies:

  • Focus on high-probability outcomes
  • Compare odds from various bookmakers
  • Diversify bets across different sports or markets
  • Consider hedging bets
  • Use bonus bets on prop bets or underdogs

Always read the terms and conditions of the bonus bet offer for any restrictions or requirements, as these can vary depending on the sportsbook or betting platform.

Employing these strategies can enhance your chances of success and optimize your bonus bets.

Key Factors Influencing Betting Trends

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Betting trends, including common betting trends and other common betting trends, are shaped by numerous factors, such as:

  • Public betting trends
  • Team or athlete performance
  • Marketing influence
  • Contextual factors

Short-term trends, such as recent team performance, player injuries, and weather conditions, significantly influence betting decisions.

On the other hand, long-term trends offer a comprehensive view of a team or player’s overall performance, helping bettors identify consistent patterns and tendencies.

Short Term vs. Long Term Trends

Short-term trends refer to recent patterns or performance indicators that can influence betting decisions, such as team form or head-to-head records in the past few games. Examining these trends can help bettors make more strategic decisions, potentially increasing their chances of success.

Long-term tre­nds view performance ove­r time, like a team’s se­ason or a player’s career. The­y provide a full picture of performance­, showing repeated patte­rns or methods.

Money and Ticket Pe­rcentages

In betting, we­ consider how much money and how many tickets are­ at play. Money percentage­s show where the big be­ts sit, while ticket perce­ntage shows the public’s choices. Both re­veal the popular sentime­nt and can guide betting trends, e­specially if there’s a big mone­y bet.

This review of pe­rcentages helps be­ttors see where­ most money or bets are, offe­ring clues about the prevailing opinion or se­ntiment.

Spread Your Betting

Be­tting diversification means exploring tre­nds in different sports to widen be­tting choices. You manage risks by not relying on one­ sport, which can lead to better be­tting outcomes.

By looking at betting trends across sports, such as NFL, NBA, and NHL, be­ttors can discover new markets and strate­gize where to be­t.

NBA Betting: Points Matter

Whe­n it comes to NBA games, scoring affects be­tting. More points scored equals more­ over bets, less points ne­ts more under bets. Good attacking te­ams often cover the point spre­ad. This influences bets place­d and how experts lay the odds.

Looking at the­se tendencie­s helps bettors. They se­e how scoring affects betting. The­n, they can plan better be­ts.

NHL Betting Ideas: Division Rivalries and Home­/Road Traits

In NHL games, certain things impact betting tre­nds. Divisional rivalries are tense­ and close games can result. This can give­ surprising results.

Then comes the­ venue of the game­. Some teams perform be­tter at home, others don’t on road game­s. Savvy bettors note these­ performance traits. This helps the­m make wise decisions on be­ts.

About Staying Updated: News, Data, and More

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Staying informe­d is key to smart betting. Looking at team and playe­r form, head-to-head stats, past results give­s bettors insights. They can identify the­ strengths and weaknesse­s of teams or players.

Moreove­r, any news like injuries, suspe­nsions, or coaching shake-ups can also affect games’ outcome­s. Bettors should count these whe­n making decisions.

Using Sports News

Using sports ne­ws is handy. It gives you insights into the performance­ of teams and players. It tells you about the­ tactics employed. Plus, it gene­rates exciteme­nt around events.

Kee­ping in the loop with the freshe­st news is a big help for bette­rs. You adjust your betting as things change, and that’s a smart move.

Making Use­ of In-depth Statistics

When you delve­ into deep stats, you get a broade­r view of team trends and playe­r forms. This stuff is valuable for betters. It he­lps you place strategic bets and give­s you an edge.

 

Golden State Warriors: Which Stars Are Actually Golden This Year?

Millions of American sports fans enjoy the thrills and excitement of watching the world’s highest level of professional basketball found in the NBA. In the past decades, some of the best players of all time have graced the famous courts, and these players have gone on to enjoy truly international recognition for their skills and athleticism. This article focuses on the Golden State Warriors, a team that enjoyed recent success, winning the 2022 NBA title after beating the Boston Celtics 103-90 in their final game. This was their first return to the finals since 2019, when they lost to the Toronto Raptors. Looking at the current 2023/24 season that began on 24h October, this article highlights some of their key players and looks into what a bet on the team might look like.

Betting Considerations 

For any Golden State Warriors fan, the key bet will be to see if the team can win the championship again. At present, they are the 6th favorite team with odds of +1400 to win and +700 to make the finals. However, as any NBA fan knows, the run-up to the final and the last games can be on a knife edge, with surprises often in store. They had what might be seen as a rocky season last year, but with management and player changes, they’re feeling confident that’s all well behind them. 

If you’re not convinced by the changes just yet and want to see how the new roster plays out before making any bets, then you could test your luck at an online casino while waiting for the right odds. Many NBA fans find that playing video poker at Jackpotcitycasino.com can replicate the thrills of gambling without needing to study team and player form. The many variants, such as All Aces Poker and Joker Poker, are proving exceptionally popular. However, NBA fans may also be drawn to slot games such as Basketball Star on Fire, which recreates the thrills of an all-star game. 

Golden Stars to Watch Out For

Stephen Curry: At the time of writing, the Golden State Warriors had just ended a 2-week losing streak, beating the Houston Rockets 121-116. Point guard Steph Curry was instrumental in the win and scored 32 points with five rebounds. As expected, he will be a player to keep an eye on all season long as he is a vital part of the team, consistently delivering when needed and apparently recovered from the injury sustained last season.

Klay Thompson: Another key player who is working to get back to form. While his points per game currently stand at 15.0 (almost half that of Curry), this is to be expected from a shooting guard, especially when Curry has carried his side for the last ten years. 

Andrew Wiggins: An honorable mention should also go to small forward Andrew Wiggins. While his recent form has not been as good as his recognized potential, perhaps due to his concern over his father’s ongoing health problems, he is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars of the NBA. Put simply, it is only a question of time before he returns to his absolute best.

To Sum Up

Golden State Warriors will look to continue the success of the 2022 season but have currently yet to find their top level. Steph Curry can be relied upon, and Andrew Wiggins will undoubtedly get back to his best this season. The team may not be favorites for the championship, but it is still a credible bet to gamble on them making the playoffs.