Tag Archive for: skyforce

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.