Finding new talent is the lifeblood of any successful basketball team.
Los Angeles Lakers are a sad example of living in the past, hoping talent will seek them out instead of actively scouting potential future stars. Aiming to strike gold with another Hassan Whiteside or Tyler Johnson, the Heat's D-League affiliate announced its opening day roster, according to a press release from the team, ahead of their season opener on Saturday, November 14 at home against the Iowa Energy at 7:00 p.m.
Below is the list of players on the opening day roster: (* = rookie, # = inactive)
- Keith Benson - Affiliate
- Russell Byrd *# - Draft (D-League)
- Corey Hawkins * - Affiliate
- Tre Kelley - Returning
- DeAndre Liggins - Returning
- Rodney McGruder - Returning
- Byron Mullens - Returning
- Bubu Palo - Returning
- Nigel Spikes - Tryout
- Jabril Trawick * - Draft
- Briante Weber *# - Affiliate
- Greg Whittington * - Affiliate
The Skyforce waived guards, Deonta Stocks, Deshaunt Walker, forward Jereal Scott from their training camp squad, while placing guard/forward Russell Byrd and guard Briante Weber on their inactive list.
Most players are familiar names from Summer League or previous years, but some of them are newcomers.
Byron Mullins is a fascinating case of a classic underachiever. He is a former NBA player who was on the Skyforce last season, but lacks the motivation to utilize his skills at the highest level. Mullins can score at will and did this to Lamarcus Aldridge:
Nigel Spikes is a 26 year-old center from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. who attended Whiteside's alma mater, Marshall University. He played professionally in Canada and Israel. His video clip shows him as a less talented version of Whiteside. Interesting to see how he matches up versus Keith Benson and Byron Mullens.
Jabril Trawick is a 6'5" guard from Georgetown University who played alongside Josh Smith and Greg Whittington in college, and for the Orlando Magic in Summer League. He tried out for Pacers and is very athletic with a flare for dunking, as seen in this clip.
Bubu Palo was on the Skyforce roster last season and some of his highlights are shown below
The Heat already have a deep roster and prospects from Sioux Falls may have to wait until January, when 10-day contracts become available for potential call-ups. Newly installed head coach Dan Craig may uncover a super-motivated player on his team that will draw the attention of the coaching staff, as Tyler Johnson did.
As a cautionary note, any of the players on the Skyforce can be signed by another NBA team if they show real promise to become contributors at the next level. Even though they lack the finesse of NBA veterans, the young second-unit players have shown how hustle and energy can be disruptive forces against even experienced professionals.