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.
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 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.
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.